The Gitga’at originally spoke Sguuks or Sguumxs (Southern Tsimshian), but adopted the more widely spoken Sm’algyax (Coast Tsimshian) during their stay with missionary William Duncan in Metlakatla. Sm’algyax literally means ‘the Real Language’ or ‘Real Talk’. The Sm’algyax name for Hartley Bay is Txalgiu.

Sm’algyax was historically an oral language. Christian missionaries were the first to write the language when they completed translations of the Bible.

English is presently the predominant language of the Gitga’at community in Hartley Bay, although many elders remain fluent in Sm’algyax and the village school continues traditional language programs.


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