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FOCUS  Central Coast -- Wet Forest

An Important Heiltsuk Site
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This is a black and white photograph of the village of Bella Bella in 1879.
Bella Bella, McLoughlin Bay, probably 1879. RBCM PN 1686.
An Introduction to Heiltsuk and Bella Bella

Once occupying over 50 major village sites throughout the central coast, the Heiltsuk maintain a strong sense of history and continued ties to land and marine resources and other cultural sites. Heiltsuk ancestral territory stretches from the southern tip of Calvert Island to Klekane Inlet across from Butedale in Graham Reach, and from the Goose Island Banks and outer islands, inland to Kimsquit and the head of Dean Channel.

Fort McLoughlin was established by the Hudson's Bay Company on Campbell Island in Heiltsuk territory in 1833. The Heiltsuk community of Bella Bella grew up around the fort at McLoughlin Bay and controlled the trade in the area.

The Heiltsuk were greatly affected, as were other First Nations, by epidemics that started with the sea-based and northern fur trade long before the well-known smallpox epidemic of 1862. Although maintaining ancestral ties and seasonal use at ancient village sites, survivors successively amalgamated and relocated to a number of communities including Bella Bella, which became the primary Heiltsuk settlement by the late 1890s.

After 1880 Bella Bella became a centre of missionary activity and the site of a Methodist hospital.
Chief Núnukvas and his wife in their canoe at Bella Bella, McLoughlin Bay, 1889.BC Archives I-75645.
This is a black and white photograph of Chief Núnukvas and his wife in their canoe at Bella Bella.
In the later nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the Heiltsuk relocated and rebuilt a new village at New Bella Bella or Waglisla, just north of McLoughlin Bay.
Bella Bella (Waglisla), 1913. RBCM PN 12397.
This is a black and white photograph of three girls and one man at Bella Bella.
An Important Heiltsuk Site -