Nootkas, Or Ahts, a family of tribes on Vancouver island and the mainland near it, embracing the Ahts proper (of whom the Moouchaht are the tribe called Nootkas by Capt. Cook and others since), on the W. side of the island, numbering 3,500; the Quackewlth, embracing 16 or 17 tribes on the W. and E. sides of the island and on the mainland, also estimated at 3,500; and the Cowichans on the E. side of the island, numbering 7,000. The Ahts proper revere Quawteaht as their deity and progenitor, worship the sun and moon, and believe in a mighty supernatural bird, Totooch. They are divided into clans, and a man cannot marry in his own, or invite men of his own clan to a feast; children belong to the mother's clan. They build houses 40 by loo ft., having a row of posts in the middle and at each side with string pieces on them. These are permanent, but the cedar slabs and mats covering the sides and roof are carried as they move from one fishing station to another, laid across two canoes. Their canoes are long dugouts, and they are expert fishers, taking salmon, herring, halibut, and whales; they also hunt, and gather for food shell fish, seaweed, and camash roots.
They make blankets of cypress bark, rain capes of white pine bark, curious hats of cedar and pine bark, and wooden dishes, dippers, and boxes; they carve the posts of their houses, and wooden masks used in war and in their dances. They hang up their dead chiefs and children in boxes or canoes in trees, or sometimes lay them on the ground and heap sticks and stones over them. Burial is more rare. The Ahts are cruel and treacherous, and have frequently destroyed vessels, besides constantly killing traders, thus provoking repeated chastisements from the whites. The Cowichans, though allied to the Ahts, are semi-civilized, readily adopt the ways of the whites, and both men and women prove useful to the settlers as servants and laborers; and they have made some progress in agriculture. Among these tribes Protestant and Catholic missionaries have found encouragement. The most extended Aht vocabulary is in Sproat's "Scenes and Studies of Savage Life"(London, 1868).