The artistic and cultural traditions of the Nuu-chah-nulth (NCN or Nootka) people on the western side of Vancouver Island aren't as well known as that of the Haida and Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakuitl) but they are equally worthy of study. Art historian Martha Black looked beyond the Maquinna hat and the Nootka canoe for her book HuupuK(w)anum-Tupaat: Out of the Mist, a literary offshoot of a 1999 exhibit at the Royal BC Museum that featured 241 artifacts and 75 images. Two years in the gathering, the exhibit included a 10-metre-long curtain obtained through repatriation from the Andy Warhol collection, a chief's ceremonial bowl used to invite guests to potlatches and a giant serpent headdress from Clayoquot. More than 20 museums loaned items for this first-ever exhibit. The book provides anecdotal and descriptive reflections of the 19 nations that have only recently decided upon the collective name Nuu-chah-nulth instead of Nootka, a term coined by Captain James Cook in 1778. Black explains the word potlatch is a Chinook term derived from a Nuu-chah-nulth word, patch'itl, meaning gift or 'to give'. HuupuK(w)anum is a word in the languauge of northern Nuu-chah-nulth nations that designates everything a chief owns, including hereditary names, dances, lands, objects and rights. Tupaat is an equivalent term from the southern Nuu-chah-nulth nations

Martha Black also wrote Bella Bella, a Season of Heiltsuk Art (D&M 1997). The R.W. Large Collection in the Royal Ontario Museum is Canada's primary collection of Heiltsuk art, a people who inhabit the center of the Northwest Coast. Their art was greatly influential, including Heiltsuk ceremonialists and canoe makers alongside their artists and this book explores the museum's collection and the mystery behind the culture and art of the Heiltsuk people.

Review of the author's work by BC Studies:
Out of the Mist: Treasures of the Nuu-chah-nulth Chiefs


Bella Bella, a Season of Heiltsuk Art. Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum/Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1997. 202 p. ill. $45.95.

Out of the Mist: Treasures of the Nuu-chah-nulth Chiefs (Royal B.C. Museum, 1999)

HuupuK(w)anum-Tupaat: Out of the Mist (Royal B.C. Museum/UBC 1999, $36.95)

Co-edited with Lorne Hammond and Gavin Hanke, with Nikki Sanchez: Spirits of the Coast: Orcas in Science, Art and History (RBCM 2020) $29.95 978-0-7726-7768-6

[BCBW 2020] "Anthropology" "First Nations" "Art"