Frequently Asked Questions

What does TETLA mean?

Tetla is not an acronym. The word tetla means "little money" in the Hul'qumi'num language spoken by native people on Vancouver Island. It is the name of a kind of gift certificates that can be redeemed at more than one business.

Are tetlas a kind of money? Tetlas are actually gift certificates. They do work like money, though.

Who issues tetlas? Tetlas are issued by a native organization called the Tetla Tsetsuwatil which is based on an Indian Reserve on Vancouver Island.


Can I exchange tetlas for Canadian or US dollars? No. If we did that, almost all tetlas would go out of circulation very fast. That's what happens with the Salt Spring dollars on Salt Spring Island. You can deposit them to the bank and automatically convert them to Canadian dollars. So that's what people do and it's been difficult to keep Salt Spring dollars in circulation. We heard the issuers of the Salt Spring dollar changed the rules to impose a 10% fee for conversions by businesses to try to minimize this. That makes the Salt Spring dollar more like the tetla. Interesting. Also, the benefit of having a local currency that can't leak away to other places is lost if it can be converted to Canadian dollars and leak away to other places.
Can I buy tetlas with Canadian or US dollars? Yes. They are being sold by Hemp & Company clothing store at 1312 Government Street, Victoria BC.
How can I be sure tetlas are worth something? So long as businesses continue to accept tetlas at full face value at normal prices, their value is being maintained.

Even if every business stopped accepting tetlas, tetlas can still be taken to the Tetla Tsetsuwatil and exchanged for reserve assets owned by the Tetla Tsetsuwatil. What assets are being held changes, but at the time this is being written, it includes a large number gift certificates issued by various businesses and other assets. The Tetla Tsetsuwatil attempts to maintain more than enough assets in its reserve to redeem all issued and outstanding tetlas by giving out reserve assets in exchange for tetlas. At the time this is being written (on January 22, 2013) the nominal value of reserves is 119% of all the tetlas issued and outstanding.

Why would I want tetlas instead of regular money?  If you have a choice between being paid with tetlas or money, choose money. But offering to let people pay you in tetlas can bring you new customers who otherwise would not come to you at all. If you have a choice between tetlas or nothing, choose tetlas.

Can Non-natives use Tetla Gift Certificates too? Yes. The Tetla gift certificate is intended not only to assist economic development in the S'amuna' Nation and other native nations, it is also intended for use in trade with non-natives and among non-natives. That's why many non-native businesses allow payment with tetlas.Has anyone else done anything like this before?

Yes. The most obvious example is Canadian Tire Money which has been around since 1958. There are many others such as Salt Spring Dollars, Calgary Dollars and Chemainus Dollars. See the links below.

Canadian Tire Money

Salt Spring Dollars

Calgary Dollars

How can you tell if a tetla is genuine or counterfeit?

Look at the security features page on this website. Attempting to produce counterfeit tetla gift certificates to obtain something of value is a serious crime. Creating such a document is forgery and attempting to trick someone into giving up something of value in exchange for it because they think it's a real one is fraud. Both of these crimes are punishable by prison time. If you are aware of any efforts to produce or use counterfeit tetlas, please notify the police and the Tetla Tsetsuwatil. So far, there no known attempts to create counterfeit tetlas.

How many tetlas have been issued? That changes all the time as new ones are issued and old ones are redeemed. At the time of this writing it's about 16,000.
Are tetlas a government program? No.

Is there a tax loophole here somewhere? Not that we know of. Tetlas are gift certificates and so far as we know there is no special tax treatment for gift certificates.

What if a business in the directory doesn't want tetlas anymore? So far, that has never happened, but if it does, please notify us and we'll remove them from the directory of businesses that accept tetlas. Also please tell us if they try to charge you a higher price than if you paid cash or if they will only allow part of the payment to be made in tetlas. Businesses can do these things, but they belong in a different category in the directory than businesses that welcome the tetlas at full value for the full price.

What if a business in the directory can't be contacted? Some smaller businesses don't notify us when their contact info changes. Please notify us if someone does not respond to phone calls, emails or if their physical address has changed and we'll update the directory.

Why do tetlas have an expiration date? So the Tetla Tsetsuwatil doesn't have to be prepared to redeem them forever. Only series 2012 tetlas have expiration dates. The newer ones don't.

If you have a tetla that is about to expire, you can probably exchange it for one with a much more distant expiration date either directly with the Tetla Tsetsuwatil or with any participating business. Even if it has already expired, you can probably use it anyway or exchange it for an unexpired one. Also, since only the first run of tetlas issued in 2012 has expiration dates, you may find that they are collector's items. Collectors from three foreign countries (UK, Portugal and Australia) have already inquired about or actually purchased tetla gift certificates.
Can you send tetlas electronically over the internet like bitcoin? Yes. There is now an electronic version of tetlas. It is an asset on counterparty called "TETLAS". Like all counterparty assets, it runs on the same blockchain as bitcoin. You can find out more about counterparty at and