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Kwakiutl Language (Kwak'wala, Kwakwaka'wakw)

Language: Kwak'wala or Kwakiutl is a Wakashan language of the Northwest Coast, spoken by around 250 native people in British Columbia. The language has been in decline, but some young Kwakwakawakw people are working to keep their ancestral language alive.



Names: The people's own name for their language is Kwak'wala (also spelled Kwak̕wala or Kwakwala), and their general name for themselves is Kwakwaka'wakw (also spelled Kwakwakawakw or Kwawkwakawakw,) which means "Kwak'wala speakers." The name "Kwakiutl" was originally the name of one of the major Kwakwaka'wakw subdivisions, also spelled Kwagu'ł, Kwaguł, Kwagulth, Kwagu'tl, and many other ways. Although many people do refer to themselves as Kwakiutl today, Kwakwaka'wakw is more inclusive and is preferred by some, particularly fluent speakers of Kwak'wala. Dialects of the Kwak'wala language include Liq'wala (or Liqwala,) Nak'wala (or Nakwala), Guc'ala (or Gucala), and Tłat'łasik'wala (or Tlatlasikwala.)


Kwakiutl Language
Kwakiutl language samples and resources.

Kwakiutl Nation Culture and History
Information and links about the Kwakiutl tribe past and present.

Kwakiutl Indians Fact Sheet
Our answers to common questions about the Kwakiutls.

Kwakiutl Legends
Introduction to Kwakiutl mythology.



Kwakiutl Language Resources

Our Kwakiutl Language Materials

Kwakiutl Vocabulary
     Our list of vocabulary words in the Kwakiutl language, with comparison to words in other Wakashan languages.
Kwakiutl Animal Words:
     Illustrated glossary of animal words in the Kwak'wala language.

Kwakiutl Dictionaries, Audio Tapes and Language Resources

The Kwakiutl Indian Language
     Old linguistics text on the Kwak'wala language.
Native Dictionaries:
    Kwakwala and other Native American dictionaries and language materials for sale.

Kwakiutl Language Lessons and Linguistic Descriptions

Kwakwala Language
     Kwak'wala alphabet, pronunciation guide, sample words, and audio clips.
First Voices: Kwak'wala
     Database of wordlists, stories and songs from the U'mista Cultural Centre.
Kwak'wala Language
     Kwakiutl language sample, pronunciation information, and bibliography (special font required.)
Kwakiutl Language, Alphabet and Pronunciation:
    Phonological inventory of Kwakiutl, with a sample text.
Kwak'wala Place Names
     Map labeled with traditional Kwakiutl names and their meanings.
Sketch of the Kwakiutl Language:
    Scanned-in Kwak'wala language materials from the Rosetta Project.
Reversing Language Shift: Can Kwak'wala Be Revived?
     Article on language revival efforts among the Kwakiutl Indians
British Columbia Placenames:
     Canadian place names in Kwakiutl, Haida, and Nass-Gitksan.
Canadian Human Rights Tribute: Kwakwala:
    Plaque written in the Kwakiutl Indian language.
Ethnologue: Kwakiutl:
    Demographic information about the Kwakiutl language.
Kwakiutl Language Tree:
    Theories about Kwakwala's language relationships compiled by Linguist List.
Kwakw'ala Language Structures:
    Kwakiutl linguistic profile and academic bibliography.

Links, References, and Additional Information

Kwakiutl Language:
Encyclopedia articles on the Kwakiutl Indian language.
Lengua Kwakiutl:
Information about the Kwakiutl language in Spanish.
Kwakiutls * Kwakiutl Native Americans:
Kwakiutl links.
Kwakiutl Tribe:
Kwakiutl Indian books.



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