The Heiltsuk language is part of what is called the Wakashan language family. Related to other languages in the group as French is to Spanish, the Heiltsuk language is similar to Wuikyala (the language of the Rivers Inlet people). Heiltsuk, Wuikyala, Haisla and Kwak’wala languages form the Northern Wakashan language group. Heiltsuk and Wuikyala are both tonal languages, which Kwak’wala is not, and both are considered dialects of the Heiltsuk-Oowekyala language.
“Heiltsuk, a rich and complex language with both conversational and ceremonial forms, is spoken at Bella Bella (Waglisla) and Klemtu. Like Oowekyala (a closely related language spoken by the Oweekeno of Rivers Inlet), Haisla (the language of the people of Kitiamaat), and Kwakwala (spoken by the Kwakwaka’wakw to the south), it is a North Wakashan language.”
The Heiltsuk were also users of the Chinook Jargon, particularly during the fur trade period. Not a full language the jargon allowed communications across the many linguistic barriers, both among First Nations and explorers. The Heiltsuk terms for Americans during this time was Boston or ‘Boston-man’ – derived from Chinook and pronounced booston. Most American fur trade vessels originated in New England – hence the term Boston. A Brit was a King-George-Man.
Through a Memorandum of Understanding signed in 2016, the Heiltsuk Cultural Education Centre, the Bella Bella Community School and the University of British Columbia’s First Nations and Endangered Languages Program are partnering in an effort to collaboratively create new opportunities for speaking, writing and reading the Híɫzaqv (Heiltsuk) language by expanding and deepening existing community language revitalization and cultural documentation in a digital environment.
Source From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia