Many of the Kwakiutl are seen sitting on the ground, wrapped in HBC blankets, a primary object of trade.

Several wear naval caps and other items of western clothing.

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According to the influential British Association for the Advancement of Science, British Columbia was the best place in North America to conduct research in ethnography and anthropology: "[here] the tribes have suffered less displacement and change from foreign influences than those of any other region.

They still for the most part occupy their original seats and they retain to a large extent their primitive customs and beliefs" 1889 Report.'wakw arriving for a ceremonial in canoes from the sea is the subject of a painting (left) by ethnologist Bill Holm.

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More information about this distinguished looking couple is not available, although it is one of the earliest studio portraits of First Nations people on the Northwest Coast, taken in Victoria by Hannah Maynard. Government of BC (text added) Most of the Places of Origin for the Kwakiutl tribes including the Komkiutis are located on Vancouver Island (left) between Port Hardy and Robson Bight.

Following the building of the fort, the Kwakiutl population was decimated. By 1906 the total population was reduced to 104 people.

It was a term then applied to all the Kwakw'wakw - that is, all of the people who speak the language Kwakwala" (Kwakiutl Indian Band).

The Kwakiutl(pronounced Kwa-gyu-thl) were also known as the "Fort Rupert Indians." A photo from about 1868 (left) is inscribed: "Capt Jack, Chief of the Rupert Indians and his wife." Both individuals are well dressed in western clothes, he in a Royal Navy suit and cap.

The display of such unique and striking objects in European museums and books communicates not only their aesthetic qualities and ethnological signficance but also the power and authority of colonial elites over the indigenous peoples.

In this light, the masks can be seen playing the reprehensible role as trophies of victory, mastery, ownership, control and domination.

Ironically, these illustrations and texts today form a rare and valuable aid in the survival of First Nations culture.