Heiltsuk culture has been and is known for its ceremonial, military and artistic skills. As the fur trade began they also became known as skilled traders. Highly skilled in canoe making and later ship building, a number of trading schooners were made in Bella Bella by the canoe makers who had learned to make western style vessels. For a time they acted as middlemen in the fur trade, benefiting from early access to guns. The traders complain in some of their records of the Heiltsuk being hard to trade with, passing off land otter skins for sea otter, demanding extra large blankets, then cutting them to standards size for re-trade and sewing the extra pieces together to make more blankets.
The Heiltsuk language is part of what is called the Wakashan language family. Related to other languages in the group as French is to Spanish, the Heiltsuk language is similar to wuikyala (Oowekyala and Kwak'wala languages and are part of the Northern Wakashan language group. Heiltsuk and Wuikyala are both tonal languages, which Kwak'wala is not, and both are considered dialects of the Heiltsuk-Oowekyala language.