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The Huu-ay-aht First Nations village of Anacla is on the Pachena River at the head of Pachena Bay, about 186 miles (300 km) northwest of Victoria, British Columbia. Their lands include Barkley Sound, the entrance to Alberni Inlet, and the southwest coast of Vancouver Island. The lands and waters making up their traditional territories are called ḥahuułi (pronounced “ha-houlthee”).
Diseases brought by colonizers during the late 1700s and early 1800s killed nearly 90 percent of the Huu-ay-aht, and at one point they numbered less than 250 people. Today, the Huu-ay-aht number close to 750 and mostly reside around the village of Anacla, the Nation’s principal community close to Bamfield, as well as in Port Alberni, the closest major population center.
Aboriginal oral history tells of a devastating earthquake that convulsed the land. This is a story similar to those from First Nations along the West Coast of North America from Vancouver Island to northern California. Legends and artwork depict a life-and-death struggle between a thunderbird and a whale that caused the earth to shake violently and the seas to wash away people and homes. A massive earthquake is known to have occurred in 1700 along the Cascadia subduction zone with an estimated magnitude of 8.7–9.2. The megathrust earthquake involved the Juan de Fuca Plate from mid-Vancouver Island, south along the Pacific Northwest coast as far as northern California. The length of the fault rupture was about 620 miles (1,000 km), with an average slip of 66 feet (20 m). Read more here and here. Download the CoastView app and explore more of Pachena Bay here: