1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Kwakiutl

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KWAKIUTL, a tribe of North-American Indians of Wakashan stock. They number about 2000. Formerly the term was used of the one tribe in the north-east of Vancouver, but now it is the collective name for a group of Wakashan peoples. The Kwakiutl Indians are remarkable for their conservatism in all matters and specially their adherence to the custom of Potlatch, which it is sometimes suggested originated with them. Tribal government is in the hands of secret societies. There are three social ranks, hereditary chiefs, middle and third estates, most of the latter being slaves or their descendants. Entry to the societies is forbidden the latter, and can only be obtained by the former after torture and fasting. The hamatsa or cannibal society is only open to those who have been members of a lower society for eight years.