ETHNONYM: Coast Salish
Comox is the language spoken by the Comox, Homalco, Klahoose, and Sliammon American Indians of British Columbia. The Comox were located on the east coast of Vancouver Island; the one hundred or so remaining Comox Currently reside on or near the Comox Indian Reserve in Comox Harbor. The Homalco, Klahoose, and Sliammon were located on both coasts of the northern Strait of Georgia in British Columbia. Today, these three groups, numbering about eight hundred, reside primarily on the Sliammon Indian Reserve. Comox is a Coast Salish language. The Comox spoke the island dialect; the other three groups speak the mainland dialect. These three groups refer to themselves by their respective group names rather than "Comox." The Comox on Vancouver Island were largely absorbed by the Lekwiltok, a Kwakiutl tribe, and are now essentially extinct as a culture. Culturally, the Comox were a transitional group between the other Coast Salish groups to the south and the Kwakiutl to the north.
First European contact was with Spanish explorers in the mid-seventeenth century, though sustained contact did not begin until 1843, leading to depopulation and relocations. The traditional and, to a large extent, the modern economy is based on the sea. Salmon fishing was the most important activity, supplemented by shellfish gathering, deer hunting, birding, plant gathering, and other activities. The Comox Culture displayed many features typical of Northwest Coast groups—permanent coastal villages, plank houses, large wooden canoes, totem poles, potlatching, trade with interior groups, and social classes. The extended patrilineal family was the primary kinship group. Traditional religious beliefs centered on the acquisition and help of individual guardian spirits and curing powers of the shaman. Today most Comox are Roman Catholics.
Barnett, Homer G. (1944). The Coast Salish Indians of British Columbia. Eugene: University of Oregon Press.
Kennedy, Dorothy, and Randy Bouchard (1983). Sliammon Life, Sliammon Lands. Vancouver: Talonbooks.