The Bella Coola tribe (also known as the Nuxalk people) is a Northwest Indian Tribe located in the area of Bella Coola, British Columbia.
They are a First Nation that speaks the Nuxalk language.
Similar to the Bella Bella tribe, the Bella Coola tribe has existed for many years and is still active today.
European Contact and Modern History
The Bella Coola tribe had a large population prior to their first contact with European settlers. It has been estimated that their population was approximately 35,000.
They, like all Native Americans, endured terrible epidemics of disease. The most notable of these was the 1862 Pacific Northwest smallpox epidemic that ran through many Native American tribes of the day and wiped out a significant portion of their population.
After the dust had settled, the epidemic left only 300 survivors of the Bella Coola tribe. With their population decimated, they became a target for expansion.
They were forcibly removed to form a settlement that became known as Bella Coola Valley. Some went to this area, and others scattered throughout the territory.
Despite this, the Bella Coola tribe has maintained a strong bond through the years. They have extensive knowledge of their family history and still embrace their traditional beliefs, which include the worship of their goddess Qamayts.
The Bella Coola, as a people and via their government, maintain rights and title to their entire traditional territory and continue to strive to maintain their traditional systems of governance, basing it on their long and rich cultural history and continued use and occupation.
The Bella Coola tribe (Also known as the Nuxalk Nation) has long asserted its rights and obligations and has never ceded, sold, surrendered, nor lost traditional lands through acts of war or by treaty. The Bella Coola remains strongly against entering any treaty process.
Their population has since rebounded from the epidemics of the mid-19th century, and they are estimated to be close to 3,000 people that have ancestry tied to the Bella Coola tribe.