Nootkas, or Ahts

Nootkas, Or Ahts a family of tribes on Vancouver's Island and the mainland near it, embracing the Ahts proper (of whom the Moouchaht are the tribe called Nootkas by captain Cook, and others since), on the western side of the island, numbering 3500; the Quackewlth, embracing sixteen or seventeen tribes, on the western and eastern sides of the island, and on the mainland, also estimated at 3500; and the Cowichans, on the eastern side of the island, numbering 7000. The Ahts proper revere Quawteaht as their deity and progenitor, worship the sun and moon, and believe in a' mighty supernatural bird, Totooch. They are divided into clans, and a man cannot marry in his own, or invite men of his own clan to a feast; children belong to the mother's clan. They build houses forty by one hundred feet, having a row of posts in the middle and at each. side, with string-pieces on them. These. are permanent; but the cedar slabs and mats covering the sides and roof are carried as they move from one fishing station to another, laid across two canoes. Their canoes are long dug-outs; and they are expert fishers, taking salmon, herring, halibut, and whales; they also hunt, and gather for food shell-fish, sea-weed, aid camash roots. They make blankets of cypress bark, rain capes of white-pine bark, curious hats of cedar and pine bark, and wooden dishes, dippers, and boxes; they carve the posts of their houses, and wooden masks used in war and in their dances. They hang up their dead chiefs and children in boxes, or canoes, in trees, or sometimes lay them on the ground and heap sticks over them. Burial is more rare. The Ahts are cruel and treacherous, and have frequently destroyed vessels, besides constantly killing traders, thus provoking repeated chastisements from the whites. The Cowichans, although allied to the Ahts, are semi-civilized, readily adopting the ways of the whites; and both men and women prove useful to settlers as servants and laborers, and they have made some progress in agriculture. Among these tribes Protestant and Catholic missionaries have found encouragement. The most extended Aht vocabulary is in Sproat's Scenes and Studies of Savage Life (Lond. 1868).

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