The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations (formerly referred to as the Clayoquot), are a Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation in Canada. They live on ten reserves along the Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. Their primary economic activities are fishing and tourism.
Tla-o-qui-aht, whose Ancestral border is determined by the ‘height of land, the direction of the rivers flow and as far as the eye can see on the ocean, is a confederacy of aboriginal groups who historically were independent from one another. Tla-o-qui-aht First Nations is the ‘Indian Band’ mandated under the Federal Indian Act to deliver civil and human services to Tla-o-qui-aht. The hereditary governance systems and structures of Tla-o-qui-aht that exist today, and that have existed since time immemorial have a dynamic relationship with the Indian Band administration and with the general population of Tla-o-qui-aht. The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation resides on two separate reserves, one on Meares Island (Opitsaht) and the other at Esowista, surrounded by Pacific Rim National Park. A reserve expansion is planned for the Esowista site. The Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation (TFN) has been very active in economic development. They own and operate TinWis Resort, and have launched a tourism-booking center owned by their Economic Development Corporation. The Nation boasts several successful tourism, artist/carver and small business entrepreneurs. They are actively involved in expanding their community housing with a significant reserve expansion situated adjacent to Pacific Rim Provincial Park and they are working towards the establishment of a tribal park in the Kennedy Lake watershed that will “marry” economic development and environmental protection in this part of their territory. In 2008 the Nation also signed a protocol with the District of Tofino to work collaboratively towards planned development on the north end of the peninsula where several large parcels of crown land are under discussion. Like several other Nations, some TFN members are still involved in the fishing industry including spawn-on-kelp, and commercial salmon and halibut fishing.
Tla-o-qui-aht is the confederation of historic native groups that once lived all around the lake system called Ha-ooke-min. Tla-o-qui-aht has been translated to mean “different people.” However, it means much more than that. To begin with, aht means ‘from or of’, and tla-o-qui is a place in Clayoquot Sound presently known as Clayoqua. In this way Tla-o-qui-aht can be understood to mean the “people from Clayoqua.”
Tla-o-qui-aht maintained their presence in this part of the Sound through to first contact with Europeans in the late 18th century. In summary, Tla-o-qui-aht, different people, are the people from Tla-o-qui; they are a confederation of many different smaller groups who once lived a very different lifestyle at Ha-ooke-min.