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Nootka (nŏtˈkə) [key], Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Wakashan branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). The Nootka proper are a small group on the west coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, but the name is also used to refer to the Aht Confederacy, which formerly included more than 20 tribes. Traditional Nootka culture was fundamentally that of the Northwest Coast area (see under Natives, North American); they fished for salmon, lived in long wooden houses, and created elaborate totem poles. In 1991 there were some 4,000 Nootka in 15 bands in Canada. The so-called Nootka hats of woven fiber were common among other tribes of this area. With the exception of the Makah and a few of their neighbors, they were the only Native Americans on the Pacific coast who hunted whales.

See P. Drucker, The Northern and Central Nootkan Tribes (repr. 1988).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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