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
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