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Kwakiutl Indians, Kwakiutl People, Kwakiutl First Nation (according to their own folk etymology the name signifies ‘smoke of the world’, but with more probability it means ‘beach at the north side of the river’). In its original and most restricted sense this term is applied to a group of closely related tribes or septs living in the neighborhood of Ft Rupert, British Columbia. These septs are the Guetela, Komkutis, Komoyue, and Walaskwakiutl, and their principal village Tsahis, surrounding Ft Rupert. Other former towns were Kalokwis, Kliksiwi, Noohtamuh, Tsaite, and Whulk, of which the last two were summer villages shared with the Nimkish during the salmon season. Those who encamped at Tsaite belonged to the Komoyue sept. In comparatively recent times a portion of the Kwakiutl separated from the rest and are known as Matilpe. These and the Komoyue are enumerated separately by the Canadian department of Indian Affairs, thus limiting the term Kwakiutl, to the Guetela alone. The population of the Kwakiutl proper in 1904 was 163.
In more extended senses the term Kwakiutl is applied to one of the two great division of the Wakashan linguistic stock (the other being the Nootka), and to a dialect and a subdialect under this. The following is a complete classification of the Kwakuitl divisions and subdivisions, based on the investigations of Boas:
- Haisla Dialect: Kitamat and Kitlope.
- Heiltsilk Dialect: Bellabella, China Hat, Nohuntsitk, Somehulitk and Wikeno.
- Kwakiutl Dialect:
- Koskimo subdialect: Klaskino, Koprino, Koskimo, and Quatsino.
- Nawiti subdialect: Nakomgilisala and Tlatlasikoala.
- Kwakiutl subdialect: Awaitlala, Goasila, Guauaenok, Hahuamis, Koeksotenok, Kwakiutl (including Matilpe), Lekwiltak, Mamalelekala, Nakoaktok, Nimkish, Tenaktak, Tlauitsis, and Tsawatenok.
The Hoyalas were an extinct Kwakiutl division the minor affinities of which are unknown.
The total population of the Kwakiutl branch of the Wakashan stock in 1904 was 2,173, and it appears to be steadily decreasing.