G̱ut̕sala / G̱uc̓ala / Quatsino Sound dialect (Bands of Quatsino Sound, today by the Gwa'sala people from Smiths Inlet and the 'Nakwaxda'xw people from Blunden Harbour)
Kwak̕wala / Kwaḵ̓wala dialect (Bands of Gilford Island, Knight Inlet, Kwakiutl, Nimpkish, Alert Bay, Kincome Inlet)
'Nak̕wala / Northern Kwak̓wala dialect (spoken by the Northern Bands or 'Nak̕waxda'x̱w and Gwa'sa̱la peoples)
T̕łat̕łasik̕wala / Nahwitti dialect (Bands of today's T̕łat̕łasiḵ̕wala people on Hope Island)
Lekwala / Liq̓ʷala / Lekwiltok dialect (Bands of the Laich-kwil-tach (Lekwiltok), they were oft called Southern Kwakiutl but identify as a separate people from the Kwakwaka'wakw and their dialect is sometimes considered a separate language)
3. Heiltsuk dialect (also known as Bella Bella and Haihais, Haiɫzaqvla, with two subdialects, spoken by the Heiltsuk people, once incorrectly known as the Northern Kwakiutl)
Waglisla / Bella Bella subdialect of the Heiltsuk (Bella Bella)
Haihais / Klemtu subdialect of the Xai'xais (Haihais / Hihg-hais)
4. Oowekyala dialect (also known as Wuikyla or 'Uwik̓ala, spoken by the Wuikinuxv people, once incorrectly known as the Northern Kwakiutl)
II. Southern Wakashan (Nootkan) languages
5. Nuu-chah-nulth (also known as Nuučaan̓uł, Nootka, Nutka, Aht, West Coast, T'aat'aaqsapa, spoken by the Nuu-chah-nulth, 12 different dialects) – 510 speakers (2005)
6. Nitinaht (also known as Diidiitidq, Diitiidʔaatx̣, Nitinat, Ditidaht, Southern Nootkan, spoken by the Ditidaht or Southern Nootka, known to themselves as Diitiidʔaaʔtx̣ and Pacheedaht), located in southwestern Vancouver Island – 30 speakers (1991)
7. Makah (also known as Qʷi·qʷi·diččaq, Q'widishch'a:'tx, spoken by the Makah together with the known extinct Ozette people, who spoke 'Osi:l-'a:'tx) – extinct (Last speaker died in 2002)
Possible relations to external language families
In the 1960s, Swadesh suggested a connection with the Eskimo-Aleut languages. This was picked up and expanded by Holst (2005). Sergei Nikolaev has argued in two papers for a systematic relationship between the Nivkh language of Sakhalin island and the Amur river basin and the Algic languages, and a secondary relationship between these two together and the Wakashan languages,.
Name and contact
The name Wakesh or Waukash is Nuu-chah-nulth for "good." It was used by early explorers including Captain James Cook, who believed it to be the tribal appellation.
In 1843 the Hudson's Bay Company established a trading post at Victoria. European-Canadians had regular contact with the First Nations after that time. There were dramatic population losses in the early 20th century due to smallpox epidemics (because the First Nations had no acquired immunity to the new disease), social disruption, and alcoholism. In 1903 the Aboriginals numbered about 5200, of whom 2600 were in the West Coast Agency, 1300 in the Kwakewith Agency, 900 in the North West Coast Agency, and 410 at Neah Bay Company, Cape Flattery. In 1909 they numbered 4584, including 2070 Kwakiutl and 2494 Nootka. Roman Catholic missionaries were active in the region.
Liedtke, Stefan. Wakashan, Salishan, Penutian and Wider Connections Cognate Sets. Linguistic data on diskette series, no. 09. München: Lincom Europa, 1995. ISBN3-929075-24-5
William H. Jacobsen Jr. (1979): "Wakashan Comparative Studies" in The languages of native America: Historical and comparative assessment, Campbell, Lyle; & Mithun, Marianne (Eds.), Austin: University of Texas Press.