Coastal Indians of Washington

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Tribes[edit]

The Tulalip, Swinomish, Lummi Skagit, Nooksack, Quinault, Hoh, Quilliut, and Duwamish, tribes were known to have the most wealth. They lived on the western side of the cascades in Washington. The reason why these tribes were "so rich" was not because they were ornamented with gold or built gold statues, but it was their abundant food, and secure shelter.[1]

The Puget Sound Indian supposedly, by cognition could tell that there was so much salmon in the water, that they could pass the water by walking on their backs. Their environment was very heterotrophic, meaning there was natural food resources preserved.[1] Clams were thick on beaches. The types of berries that were most familiar were blackberries, raspberries, and salmonberries. Then, there were also nuts. In the waters, they were a various salmon and other types of fish. In the landscape of the area, and woods contained many deer and elk and other mammals. In addition, cedar trees were landmarks to the region.

Moreover, the wood had a wide range of applications. They used it in everything from construction of houses and shaping canoes to carving out crude tools. Clothing such as blankets, toweling, and shoes came from Softened Cedar bark. They did not have the methods or level of technology that was present in other parts of the world but they knew enough and were able to make it through the harsher exposure to the elements of nature. They developed a way to safely store food by drying it. Once that process was done, they took a vacation over the winter months, without having to face a renewed struggle in the fall so as to maintain their relatively rich lifestyle.[1][2]

Food[edit]

The Northwest Coastal Indians could catch enough fish during the summer salmon run to feed themselves for the whole winter. The Indians also caught a variety of food from the sea including halibut, flounder, and cod. They ate clams, crabs, seals, sea otters, sea lions, fish, herring eggs, and mussels, shellfish, sea urchins,fungus,and seaweed. The men hunted land animals including bear, caribou, deer, elk, and moose. The Nuu-chah-nulth (Nootka)/Makah and to a lesser extent the Haida also caught whales. In some areas mountain goats could be found. The women gathered roots, berries, seaweed for salt, nuts, fungus, acorns, and camas bulbs. Blueberries,blackberries, and huckleberries were some of the favorite berries. While most tribes lives on the coast during the summer months, when winter came many moved their camps to a more protected area like up a river or inlet.

Customs[edit]

The Northwest Coastal tribes occasionally gathered together for a potlatch. The person hosting the potlatch gave away as many gifts to his guests as he could. This showed he was wealthy. These ceremonies could last for days. Singing, dancing, and story-telling were part of the celebration. Also wore masks and head dresses for ceremonial purposes.

The Northwest Coastal Indians took slaves. Slaves were a sign of wealth. Children were kept close to their camp for fear that they would be stolen by another tribe and become a slave.

Only two tribes of Northwest Coastal Indians, the Makah and Nuu-chah-nulth, hunted for food in the sea. They built great seagoing canoes. Some were more than 60 feet long. They built the canoes from the trunks of huge cedar and redwood trees. The canoes could hold as many as 60 men. The Makah and Nootka often carved elaborate pictures and painted designs on their canoes.

Once the whale was pulled to shore, it was cut up. The meat was divided. The whale also was a source of oil and the bones were used for various tools. An entire tribe could live for a whole year on two to four whales.[2]

References[edit]

External links and more about Northwest Indians[edit]