Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (Ucluelet) First Nation | The Canadian Encyclopedia


Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (Ucluelet) First Nation

Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ (formerly known as Ucluelet, Yuu-tluth-aht and Yu’lu’il’ath) are a Nuu-chah-nulth nation from west Barkley Sound, Vancouver Island. As of October 2021, there were 674 registered members, 446 of whom live off reserve. The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, along with several other Nuu-chah-nulth nations, have signed the Maa-nulth treaty, which has provided them with self-governance since April 2011.

Territory and Population

The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ formerly consisted of several independent groups that lived along the Ucluelet Inlet, Ucluth Peninsula and the outer coast northward to Green Point on Long Beach. These groups eventually amalgamated as a nation as a result of prolonged warfare and decimation from disease after European contact. In the early historic period, Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ groups gained additional territories through warfare. In the late 18 century, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ conquered the Namint7ath (Namintaht) for the rich salmon fishery on the Nahmint River. The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, aided by Tla-o-qui-aht (Clayoquot), also took Effingham Inlet from the A’utsaht and the Hachaaht, now both extinct.

Today, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ live in their traditional village of Hitacu (Ittatsoo), across from the town of Ucluelet. (See also Indigenous Territory.) As of October 2021, the federal government reported were 674 registered members, 446 of whom live off reserve.

Traditional Life

The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ likely lived in bands of small families. They hunted according to the season and to migration patterns of certain animals. Sea mammals and fish, such as salmon, were especially important to the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ diet.

Society and Culture

Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ society was once governed by hereditary chiefs (ha’with). Today, hereditary chiefs share in the governance system with elected representatives. A self-governing people since 2011, the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ have various law-making powers concerning their citizens and community.

Historically, the Nuu-chah-nulth have had a strong ceremonial culture, characterized by feasting and entertainment with song, dance, contests and theatricals. (See also Potlatch.)

The Nuu-chah-nulth have also been known for their stunning woodwork, including canoes, totem poles, multifamily houses and other products handcrafted out of fine cedar. (See also Northwest Coast Indigenous Art.)


The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ speak a dialect of Nuu-chah-nulth (Nuučaan̓uɫ). Their language is considered endangered; as of 2015, there were only nine recorded fluent speakers. However, there were also 75 speakers who somewhat understood the language and another 45 learning speakers. The nation is working towards reclaiming and preserving the language by developing linguistic guides and educational materials.(See also Nuu-chah-nulth: Language and Indigenous Languages in Canada.)

Religion and Spirituality

The Nuu-chah-nulth belief system centres on a Creator being as well as spirits whose powers can be used to bring peace and fortune. The Nuu-chah-nulth believe that all life forms have a spirit, and should therefore be respected and appreciated. Shamans ensured the spiritual health of the people by practising ancient medicines and healing rituals to cure illness, restore balance to the body and spirit, and even restore lost souls. (See also Indigenous Peoples: Religion and Spirituality.)

Colonial History

The Nuu-chah-nulth made contact with European fur traders in the 1770s. The traditional lifestyle of the Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ began to change with prolonged and increased European settlement on their traditional territories. The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ were displaced onto reserves and subjected to the Indian Act, residential schools and other federal programs and policies that sought to assimilate Indigenous peoples.

Contemporary Life

The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ, along with several other Nuu-chah-nulth nations, have signed the Maa-nulth treaty, which has provided them with self-governance since April 2011. As self-governing, the nations have certain powers over citizenship and law-making in their traditional territories. The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ also manage natural resource industries on their territory as well as development projects and businesses, including tourism operations.

The Yuułuʔiłʔatḥ are part of the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council, an association founded in 1958 that provides various services to approximately 10,000 registered members, including child welfare, education, employment training and other socio-economic programs that support health and development.

Indigenous Perspectives Education Guide

Indigenous Peoples Collection

Further Reading

External Links