/kwah'kee ooht"l/, n.1. a member of a North American Indian people of Vancouver Island and the adjacent British Columbian coast.2. the language of the Kwakiutl, a Wakashan language.
* * *Northwest Coast Indian people who live along the shores of Vancouver Island, B.C., Can., and the mainland opposite. They speak Kwakwala, a Wakashan language, and call themselves Kwakwaka'wakw, meaning "Those Who Speak Kwakwala." Traditionally, the Kwakiutl subsisted mainly by fishing. They had a technology based largely on woodworking. Their society was stratified by rank, determined primarily by inheritance. The potlatch was elaborately developed and was often combined with dances and songs dramatizing ancestral experiences with supernatural beings. They continue to be known for their highly stylized art, which includes totem poles and striking masks. The Kwakiutl numbered about 3,000 in the 2001 Canadian census.
* * *▪ peopleself-name Kwakwaka'wakwNorth American Indians who traditionally lived in what is now British Columbia, Can., along the shores of the waterways between Vancouver Island and the mainland; their name for themselves means “those who speak Kwakwala.” They speak a Wakashan language that included three major dialects: Haisla, spoken on the Gardner Canal and Douglas Channel; Heiltsuq, spoken from Gardner Canal to Rivers Inlet; and southern Kwakiutl, spoken from Rivers Inlet to Cape Mudge on the mainland and on the northern end of Vancouver Island. The Kwakiutl are culturally and linguistically related to the Nootka (Nuu-chah-nulth).The Kwakiutl contributed extensively to the early development of anthropology as the subjects of ethnographic studies by pioneering scholar Franz Boas (Boas, Franz). In more than 5,000 pages written over almost half a century, Boas described and analyzed nearly every aspect of Kwakiutl culture and its relationships to other Northwest Coast Indians (Northwest Coast Indian) with whom the tribe shared general features of technology, economy, art, myths, and religion.Traditionally, the Kwakiutl subsisted mainly by fishing and had a technology based on woodworking. Their society was stratified by rank, which was determined primarily by the inheritance of names and privileges; the latter could include the right to sing certain songs, use certain crests, and wear particular ceremonial masks.The potlatch, a ceremonial distribution of property and gifts unique to Northwest Coast peoples, was elaborately developed by the southern Kwakiutl. Their potlatches were often combined with performances by dancing societies, each society having a series of dances that dramatized ancestral interactions with supernatural beings. These beings were portrayed as giving gifts of ceremonial prerogatives such as songs, dances, and names, which became hereditary property.Early 21st-century population estimates indicated approximately 700 individuals of Kwakiutl descent.
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