Welcome to the Húy̓at web site – the results of a collaborative effort between the Heiltsuk Nation, researchers and project partners from Simon Fraser University, the University of Victoria, and Greencoast Media. We invite you to explore the beauty and depth of Húy̓at’s history, and in doing so, to explore the past, present, and future of the Heiltsuk people. Heiltsuk memories, language, and oral traditions come from community-initiated research, ethnographic sources, and archival documents assembled in the Heiltsuk Cultural Education Center (HCEC), as well as about 30 interviews conducted specifically for this project.
The Heiltsuk (also formerly known as the Bella Bella) are the descendants of Heiltsuk-speaking peoples of the Central Coast of British Columbia. Heiltsuk lives, learning, and history are intertwined with the lands and seas of their traditional territory. The first generation Heiltsuk were "set-down" by the Maker in the territory before the time of a great flood. In western ways of reckoning time, based on the archaeological record, this region has been lived in for at least 14,000 years.
Speaking Heiltsuk
Dúqva̓ísḷa William Housty on the meaning of the word ”Heiltsuk”.
The Húy̓at Cultural Landscape
Húy̓at is located in the heart of Heiltsuk territory, about a 30-minute boat ride from the main reserve of Bella Bella, where many Heiltsuk live today.
It is one of many important places on the Heiltsuk landscape that reflect our long-term connection to place. It is a place of learning, sharing, and being Heiltsuk. Embedded in the land and seas of Húy̓at are the imprints of Heiltsuk stories, memories, and lives lived – from the beginning of time till today. It is where the
Wolf Children
were born, where the Heiltsuk outer coast tribes (W̓úyalitx̌v;) amalgamated before moving to Old Bella Bella, and where many of today’s Elders spent a substantial amount of time as youth. Understanding these long-term connections between people and place at Húy̓at is directly relevant to Heiltsuk initiatives and concerns, including education of youth, assertions of rights and title, and connecting to heritage and identity.
Importance of the project
Why Húy̓at
There are several reasons why we chose to focus this website project on Húy̓at. First and foremost is the deep connection that many Heiltsuk today have with Húy̓at – either through their own experiences or through that of their family members. Also, because there has been relatively little disturbance in Húy̓at, its many landscape features, including the abundance of archaeological sites, are relatively intact. Finally, because of Húy̓at’s proximity to Bella Bella, there is enhanced potential for community input and the education of our youth. Its proximity also simplified the logistics of fieldwork, which can be quite challenging in this region. It is important to remember, however, Húy̓at’ is only one of many places on the Heiltsuk landscape that is important to our people.
"There's a lot of other places other than Húy̓at that our people were there and lived and they, it's important, kind of important to me, to go revisit. It's important to go revisit where, probably where your ancestors were at one time... It's important for any young people to go visit where their ancestors were at one time."
- Randy Carpenter
The content of this website comes from many different kinds of knowledge and data.
Heiltsuk memories, language, and oral traditions come from ethnographic sources and archival documents assembled in the Heiltsuk Culture and Education Center (HCEC), as well as about 30 interviews conducted specifically for this project. The ethnoecological and archaeological work was conducted over a six-year period from 2012-2017.
Oral History and Archaeology
These diverse sources provide information that
spans millennia
of connections to the land and seascape of Húy̓at. In general, our knowledge of deep time is based on archaeology, ethnography, and oral traditions; the early historic period is based on written documents and oral traditions; and more recent history is reflected in memories and experiences. This more recent history is known locally as
“Smokehouse Days”.
Whenever possible, our telling of Húy̓at history crosscuts temporal divisions and sources of data. The integrative approach we use here could be applied elsewhere in Heiltsuk territory or anywhere where the connections to landscape and identity are tightly interwoven.
The website is organized around several linked themes that emerged from our integration of the various sources of knowledge and data. Throughout, we sought to retain people’s original voices through audiovisuals and text. The
virtual tour
reflects our goal to convey the connections between Heiltsuk identity, history, and place.
The spellings used in this website are in the Revised Practical Alphabet (Revised Heiltsuk Practical Orthography) developed by the linguist John Rath and are based on his intensive research with fluent
Heiltsuk language
speakers and his review of archival sources. It is a “morpho-phonemic” alphabet, which means that the words are spelled partly according to how they sound and partly according to the meanings of the components of the word. It is a “practical” alphabet because it uses the English alphabet with special letters and diacritics added to indicate sounds that do not occur in English. In a few cases, we present multiple spellings of words in the website (e.g., C̓úṃqḷaqs (Tsumcalaqs), but in most cases we have attempted to be consistent throughout.
This website and touch screen project is founded on the knowledge and wisdom of many people and institutions. First and foremost, we acknowledge the Creator, for placing us here and allowing us to burn our fires in our territory.  We also acknowledge, with deep respect, the
community members
past and present, who have shared their knowledge about and experiences of Húy̓at and Heiltsuk culture and history more generally. All were motivated by a recognition that sharing information about the Heiltsuk’s past is fundamental to the Heiltsuk’s future.
For decades, Heiltsuk First Nation, and in particular the
Heiltsuk Cultural Education Center (HCEC),
has made it a priority to work with knowledge-holders to record place names, language, oral histories, and memories connected to Húy̓at and elsewhere. We recognize Heiltsuk Nation's and HCEC’s long-standing collaborations with archaeologists, whose knowledge is also incorporated into the research that informs this website and touchscreen presentation. All recent interviews were conducted under the guidance of Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department and the Heiltsuk Cultural Education Center. Interviews followed the ethical protocol instituted by the Heiltsuk, and include prior consent to making the content available for educational purposes and supporting Heiltsuk stewardship concerns. Permission to use archival interviews housed at HCEC was sought from the descendants of the interviewees.
We thank Heiltsuk artist Ian Reid who graciously donated the project logo from his larger illustration of the Wolf Children story.
Heiltsuk songs were performed by the Heiltsuk Singers at community events, as well as by Gíƛa Elroy White and Glditlh gvuiba Joshua Vickers. The cross sections of Húy̓at land use were created by Louise Williams. The photographs of Heiltsuk fishers are courtesy of the Icelandic Archives of B.C. (E.J. Fridleifson Collection). We thank the curator, R.J. Asgeirsson, for guiding us to the images of Heiltsuk community members.
We are grateful to the Tula Foundation and the Hakai Institute, and in particular, Eric Peterson and Christina Munck, for their financial and logistical support of the ethnoecological, ethnographic, and archaeological portions of this project. Many thanks to the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) and the National Geographic Society (Genographic Legacy Fund) for supporting much of the media work.
K̓áwáziɫ Marilyn Slett, Chief Councillor, Heiltsuk Nation
Kelly Brown, Director, Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department
Project Advisors
Jennifer Carpenter, Culture and Heritage Manager, Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department; Director, Heiltsuk Cultural Education Centre
Robyn Humchitt, Heiltsuk Cultural Education Centre Research Assistant and Digitizing Technician
Dúqva̓ísḷa William Housty, Chair, Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department Board
Ǧvu̓í / Q̓vúq̓vsṃí Rory Housty, Cultural Coordinator at Heiltsuk College
Hílístis Pauline Waterfall, Councillor, Heiltsuk Tribal Council
Gíƛa Elroy White, Central Coast Archaeology
ƛáquíɫ Connie Tallio, Bella Bella Community School
Yím̓ás Ǧviúst̓izas Joann Green, Director, Heiltsuk College
H̓áziɫba Saul Brown, Haíɫcístut Negotiator, Heiltsuk Nation
Heiltsuk Knowledge Holders
Interviewed by Dana Lepofsky and Mark Wunsch (2016-2017)
Kelly Brown
Pam Brown
Randy Carpenter
Gvágva̓u Steve Carpenter 
Yím̓ás Ǧviúst̓izas Joann Green
Joan Hall 
Yím̓ás Nác̓i Gary Housty Sr. 
Dúqva̓ísḷa William Housty
Yím̓ás Wígviɫba Wákas Harvey Humchitt
Yím̓ás Q̓vúmán̓akvla Wilfred Humchitt
Ron Martin Sr.
Yím̓ás Qvíɫtákv Earl Newman 
Emma Reid
Fred Reid 
Kevin Starr
Glditlh gvuiba Joshua Vickers
Hílístis Pauline Waterfall
Gíƛa Elroy White
Gálǧṃkas / Táltṃx Jim White
Yím̓ás Taltmx Mark White
April Windsor
Bernard Windsor
Mavis Windsor 
Interviewed by Jonaki Bhattacharyya (2014)
Randy Carpenter
Emma Reid
Fred Reid
Interviewed by Gíƛa Elroy White as part of the Heiltsuk Stone Fish Trap study (2004)
Peggy Housty
Edward Martin Sr.
Emma Reid
Don Vickers
Edward White Sr.
Bill Wilson
Evelyn Windsor
Interviewed by Jim Jones (1997)
Cyril Carpenter
Interviewed by Rory Housty and Terry Ivan Reid (Húy̓at Project, Smokehouse Days 2012)
George Edward Housty
Bella Bella Stories Project; BC Indian Advisory Committee and the Bella Bella Band (1968/69. Susanne Storie project lead. Transcription and editing by Susanne Storie and Jennifer Gould; Evelyn Winsor interpreter for interview with Hoffman Harris)
Beatrice Brown
Willie Gladstone
Hoffman Harris
Gertie White
Interviewed by Michael Harkin and Clarence Martin (1997; Bella Bella Ethnohistory Project)
Edward Martin
Interviewed by Dorothy Walkus (1977, Bella Bella Band Council Autobiography Taping Project. Transcribed and translated by Evelyn Windsor)
Maggie Windsor
Interviewed by Ronald L. Olson (1935, 1949; “Notes on the Bella Bella Kwakuitl”, Olson,1955)
Mrs. Sam Starr (Emma Starr)
Mrs. Charley Windsor (Lucy Windsor/ Máǧaǧa)
Interviewed by Franz Boas and George Hunt (1895, 1920; “Bella Bella Tales”, Boas,1932)
Udzistalis/BellaBella Tom (H̓úc̓istalis)
Interviewed by Saul Brown and Elizabeth Brown (Heiltsuk Marine Indigenous Law Project, 2015)
Cecil Reid
Other Knowledge Holders
Interviewed by Mark Wunsch, Dana Lepofsky, and Grant Callegari (2016 - 2017)
Marco Hatch (Northwest Indian College)
Kira Hoffman (University of Victoria)
Julia Jackley (Simon Fraser University)
Dana Lepofsky (Simon Fraser University)
Darcy Mathews (University of Victoria)
Nancy Turner (University of Victoria)
Heiltsuk Singers
Gíƛa Elroy White
Glditlh gvuiba Joshua Vickers
Nusi Ian Reid
Ethnoecological and Archaeological Fieldwork
Julia Jackley
Dana Lepofsky
Nancy Turner
Fiona Chambers
Andrea Walkus
Glditlh gvuiba Joshua Vickers
Jonaki Bhattacharyya
Darcy Mathews
Anna Antoniou
Ian Kretzler
Morgan Ritchie
Gíƛa Elroy White
Sue Formosa
Pano Skrivanos
Research Partners
Heiltsuk Nation
Heiltsuk Cultural Education Centre
Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department
Hakai Institute
Simon Fraser University
University of Victoria
Website and Touchscreen Concept and Design
Mark Wunsch (Greencoast Media)
Brianne Dahle (Greencoast Media)
Dana Lepofsky (Simon Fraser University)
Website Content
Dana Lepofsky
Mark Wunsch
Jennifer Carpenter
Gíƛa Elroy White
Robyn Humchitt
Nancy Turner
Julia Jackley
Darcy Mathews
Ǧvu̓í / Q̓vúq̓vsṃí Rory Housty
Principle Videography and Photography
Mark Wunsch
Additional Videography and Photography
Jonaki Bhattacharyya
Grant Callegari (Hakai Institute)
Johanna Gordon-Walker (Bella Bella Community School)
Icelandic Archives of BC (curated by R.J. Asgeirrsson)
Julia Jackley
Darcy Matthews
Will McInnes (Hakai Institute)
Terri E. Reid
Nancy Turner
Gíƛa Elroy White
The material featured on this site is for educational purposes only and protected by copyright law according to the Canadian Copyright Act. Content may not be copied and incorporated into any other publication, commercial or otherwise, with any other name attached to it, and without written permission by the Heiltsuk Nation.
We are happy that this site has drawn a lot of attention nationally and internationally. To date it has received the following awards:
Society of American Archaeology 2020 Award for Excellence in Public Education for the Húy̓at website
BC Heritage Award 2020. Education, Communication and Awareness for the Húy̓at website
BC Museum Association, Honourable Mention for Impact and Engagement for the Húy̓at website
Society for Visual Anthropology, Best Interactive Documentary Award for the Húy̓at website
Canadian Archaeological Association Social Media Award for the Húy̓at website
MUSE Award (American Alliance of Museums), Honorable Mention for On-line Experience, for the Húy̓at website
One of the main goals of the Húy̓at project is to educate about Heiltsuk culture and their connection to their lands and seas. The Húy̓at team developed a Teacher’s Guide to facilitate integrating the website into the classroom. The Teacher’s Guide focuses on BC Grade 9 Social Studies and Science curricula, but it can be easily be adapted to other classes, grades, and for teachers outside of British Columbia.
The material featured on this site is for educational purposes only and protected by copyright law according to the Canadian Copyright Act. Content may not be copied and incorporated into any other publication, commercial or otherwise, with any other name attached to it, and without written permission by the Heiltsuk Nation.
For more information please contact
William Housty (Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department Board Chair) at
Dana Lepofsky (Simon Fraser University) at