Kwakiutl (kwäˈkēōˌtəl) [key], group of closely related Native North Americans who inhabit N Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland of British Columbia, Canada. They, together with the Nootka, their southern neighbors, make up the Wakashan branch of the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock (see Native American languages). Kwakiutl culture was typical of the Northwest Coast area (including the custom of potlatch). The ethnographer Franz Boas produced a significant number of ethnographic studies on the Kwakiutl. Numbering c.15,000 before European contact, they are now reduced to around 4,000 and are mainly engaged in fishing and farming.
See F. Boas, Kwakiutl Ethnography, ed. by H. F. Codere (1966); R. P. Rohner and E. C. Rohner, The Kwakiutl (1970).