Kwakiutl - Settlements

Each of the twenty-nine Southern Kwakiutl local groups occupied a village in the winter months and moved, seasonally, to settlements situated at specific resource locales. At the winter village and such repeatedly used locations as the Eulachon and salmon fisheries stood the permanently erected, heavy timber house frames on which the villagers placed split plank cladding carried with them on their seasonal moves. Short-term camps, such as those used as bases for shellfish or seaweed gathering, typically were occupied by village segments. Shelters here were smaller and commonly formed of planks over a light pole framework. Winter village populations ranged from 100 to 750; aggregations at the eulachon fisheries could reach several thousands. Lesser resource locales might attract but one or two households. Dwellings were customarily ranged along the shores of a bay, protected Channel, or lower reaches of a river. Within the houses, which could be up to 29.5 feet square, mats, screens, and piled belongings formed compartments for the occupant households.

In the mid- to late-nineteenth century, the Hudson's Bay Company post, sawmills, and canneries drew people into three principal settlements. Since formai establishment as Reserve communities, these three have expanded, attractive for the amenities and social services offered. Only four of the original groups remain at their traditional winter locations. Reserve housing stock has improved greatly in recent years and can now generally be described as of good rural standard. Large communities have one or more modified old-style big houses as a focus for traditional ceremonies and often a reCreation center for more recently adopted activities. Separate band office structures and churches are found in all but the smallest reserve settlements. Two communities have attractive, well-equipped, and professionally staffed museums.

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