The Wuikinuxv, also rendered Oowekeeno /əˈwiːkənoʊ/, Wuikenukv, Wikeno, Owikeno, Oweekano, Awikenox, and also known as the Rivers Inlet people, are an Indigenous First Nations people of the Central Coast region of the Canadian province of British Columbia, located around Rivers Inlet and Owikeno Lake, to the north of Queen Charlotte Strait. The Wuikinuxv people and their neighbours the Heiltsuk and Haisla peoples were in the past sometimes known incorrectly as the “Northern Kwakiutl”.
The name used for the main village on Katit Indian Reserve No. 1, which is on an island in the Wannock River, that connects Owikeno Lake to Rivers Inlet, “Wannock”, means “poison” and refers to an 1848 raid by the Heiltsuk, as recounted by Capt. Walbran in his authoritative opus on coastal names in British Columbia:
The lake is about 35 miles long, and connected with the inlet by the Oweekayno river now known by the name, adopted by the Indians, of Wannuck (sic); the meaning of which is “poison”, as in olden times visitors to the tribe, evidently unwelcome, had the reputation of dying suddenly, these deaths being attributed to poison. About 1848 this tribe suffered dreadfully through a slave raid made by the powerful Bella Bellas, who after inviting the tribe to a potlatch….awaited their guests in ambush, and as they unsuspectingly arrived, one canoe after another, poured a deadly fire into them, killing all the men and capturing the women and children. The following morning the Bella Bellas advanced on Katil [one of their oldest and principal villages being on a small island…situated in the lake at the head of the river.] making a further surprise in which 3 men and 1 woman were killed and 32 woman and children captured.
A recently completed Bighouse, which is the first in many long years, is the focus on a rebuilding of Wuikinuxv society.
The culture was structured much the same as the other indigenous peoples of the coast. At the height of the coastal civilization, Wuikinuxv territory encompassed the mouth of Rivers Inlet to the head waters of Owikeno Lake.
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