Heiltsuk (Bella Bella)

The present-day Heiltsuk (formerly the Bella Bella) Band of Indians are the main descendents of Hailhzaqvla-speaking peoples who inhabited an area of approximately 6000 sq. miles in the central coastal region of what is today known as British Columbia. Heiltsuk traditional territory extends from the southern tip of Calvert Island, up Dean and Burke Channels as far as Kimsquit and the head of Dean Inlet to the northeast, and up the Mathieson and Finlayson Channels to the north. It includes Roscoe, Cousins and Spiller Inlets, and Ellerslie Lake, and the outer coast regions of Milbanke Sound, Queens Sound, and the Goose Island Group and Calvert.

“Heiltsuk”, according to grandmother, Hilistis Beatrice Brown (pers. communication) originally referred to all Aboriginal people or groups elsewhere. For example, the Gitsxan would have been referred to as “Heiltsuk”. Over time as Indian Bands and reserves were established, we were registered as the “Bella Bella Band” which then changed to become “Heiltsuk” as our formal title name.

There is also reference to “Heiltsuk” meaning “to speak and act in the right way”, which would reflect a traditional value that was a foundation of our principles and relations.