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Who are the Kwakiutl Indians?

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Quick Answer

The Kwakiutl Indians are indigenous people who originated in British Columbia, Canada and expanded through Vancouver Island, nearby mainlands and other islands. As of 2014, there are approximately 7,718 Kwakiutl people.

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The Kwakiutl are also known as the Kwakwka'wakw, which translates to "those who speak Kwak'wala." Originally, there were about 28 communities and five dialects. The Kwakiutl economy was traditionally based on woodworking, hunting and fishing. They celebrate the potlatch, a ceremony in which gifts, wealth, rights and properties are distributed. It is sometimes a naming ceremony or celebration of ranking, inheritance or marriage rights. The potlatch is accompanied by dances, which tell stories of the supernatural interacting with and giving gifts to society.

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