Nootka - Settlements

The primary Nootkan settlement was a social unit known as a local group (also called a band). Each local group had one or more clusters of cedar-plank houses (called longhouses), which were as large as forty by one hundred feet. Nootkans moved between winter and summer settlements, with each local group having at least one longhouse for use in the Summer at one site and another longhouse for winter use at another site. Up to thirty-five related people (a house-group) lived in a longhouse. Within the longhouse, each housegroup family had its own cooking hearth and living area. In the winter, several local groups formed a larger winter village. There, each local group had its own important ceremonial art. The focal point of each was a family of chiefs who owned the houses as well as the territorial rights to exploit local resources. The local group took its name from the place it was located, such as a fishing site; sometimes it was named after a chief. Villages were situated near sources of firewood and fresh water, as well as for shelter from surprise raids. Today there are numerous Nootka reserves dotting Vancouver Island's west coast. The physical isolation of most of these Reserves makes year-round living there impractical. Victoria, British Columbia, and Vancouver Island towns are now home for many Nootka. The Makah, who live on Washington State's Olympic Peninsula, live year-round at coastal Neah Bay, which is connected by road to the rest of the peninsula.


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