Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Plateau
Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Plateau', also referred to by the phrase Indigenous peoples of the Plateau, and historically called the Plateau Indians (though comprising many groups) are indigenous peoples of the Plateau or Intermontane region of Western Canada], whose territories are located in the inland portions of the basins of the Columbia and Fraser Rivers. These tribes live in parts of the Central and Southern Interior of British Columbia, northern Idaho, western Montana, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon, and northeastern California. The eastern flank of the Cascade Range lies within the territory of the Plateau peoples.
Tribes and bands 
Plateau tribes include the following:
Chinook peoples 
Interior Salish 
- Coeur d'Alene Tribe, ID, MT, WA
- Entiat, WA
- Flathead (Selisch or Salish), ID and MT
- Methow, WA
- Nespelem, WA
- Nlaka'pamux (Thompson people), BC
- Nicola people (Thompson-Okanagan confederacy)
- Okanagan, BC and WA
- Secwepemc, BC (Shuswap people)
- Sinixt (Lakes), BC, ID, and WA
- Sinkiuse-Columbia, WA (extinct)
- Spokane people, WA
- St'at'imc, BC (Upper Lillooet)
- Lil'wat, BC (Lower Lillooet)
- In-SHUCK-ch, BC (Lower Lillooet)
- Wenatchi (Wenatchee)
- Sanpoil, WA
Sahaptin people 
- Upper Cowlitz or Taidnapam
- Kittitas (Upper Yakima)
- Klickitat Tribe, WA
- Nez Perce, ID
- Pshwanwapam (Pswanwapam)
- Skinpah (Skin)
- Tenino (Warmsprings)
- Tygh (Upper Deschutes), OR
- Umatilla, OR
- Walla Walla, WA
- Wanapum, WA
- Wyam (Lower Deschutes)
- Yakama, WA
Other or both 
- Cayuse, OR
- Celilo (Wayampam)
- Cowlitz, WA
- Fort Klamath, OR
- Kalapuya, northwest OR
- Kutenai (Kootenai, Ktunaxa), BC, ID, and MT
- Lower Snake people: Chamnapam, Wauyukma, Naxiyampam
- Modoc, CA and OR
- Molala (Molale), OR
- Nicola Athapaskans (extinct), BC
- Palus (Palouse), ID, OR, and WA
- Upper Nisqually (Mishalpan)
Plateau tribes primarily spoke Interior Salish languages or Sahaptian languages. They also speak Chinookan languages, which are often classified as Penutian languages, but this classification is not universally agreed upon. The Ktunaxa speak the Kutenai language, which is a language isolate.
Traditional cultures 
The people of the Plateau moved from place to place throughout the year to gather edible vegetables and fruits, including camassia, bitterroot, kouse root, serviceberry, chokecherry, huckleberry and wild strawberry. The gathering of these plants is still a traditional way of life among many of the people of these tribes today.
In addition to hunting and gathering, these people were fishermen, with salmon making up a major part of their food supply. When horses came to the area, the world of the Plateau people expanded, allowing them to trade with the tribes on the plains east of the Rocky Mountains for things such as bison meat and hides. Groups of hunters rode far to hunt bison, deer, and elk.
Basketry and textiles 
Plateau tribes excelled in the art of basketry. They most commonly using hemp dogbane, tule, sagebrush, or willow bark. These materials were also used for hats, bedding, nets, and cordage. Plateau Indians created the oldest known shoes in the world, the Fort Rock sandals, which are dozens of twined sagebrush sandals, dated between 10,390–9650 years BP.
Tools were made from wood, stone and bone. Arrows for hunting were made from wood and tipped with arrow-heads chipped from special rocks. Antlers from animals were used for digging roots.
Traditional Plateau housing included summer tule mat longhouses. Tule, used for many purposes, is a tall, tough reed that grows marshy areas and sometimes called bulrush. In winter, semi-subterranean, they dug a pit a few feet into the ground and constructed a framework of poles over it which was then covered with tule mats or tree bark. Earth was piled up around and partially over the structure to provide insulation. The large winter lodges that were shared by several families were rectangular at the base and triangular above. They were built with several layers of tules; as the top layers of tule absorbed moisture, they swelled to keep moisture from reaching lower layers and the inside of the lodge. In later years, canvas was used instead of tule mats. Beginning the 18th century, Plateau peoples adopted tipis made of poles covered with animal skins or mats woven from reeds. Women temporarily stayed in round menstrual huts, measuring about 20 feet in diameter.
Later, they used metal items like pots, needles, and guns from trade with Europeans in addition to their natural tools.
Arts today 
Today the Natives still make their traditional clothing, bags, baskets, and other items. Although some knowledge of the art has been lost in the past, it is still an important part of their way of life. Mothers and grandmothers decorate their children's celebration and dancing costumes. Many different beaded things, drums, woven bags and other crafts are used in traditional celebrations and special occasions. They used these regalia for days such as the Spirit Dance, which occurred once a year.
The Cayuse were the Natives who lived in the area of the plateau where Walla Walla is today. Their territory was at the crossroads of the Oregon country. The Indian and trapping trails from north, south, east and west crossed their lands. The Plateau Natives lived near the great Columbia River which served as a highway for many of the Native tribes. The Plateau native americans used bows and arrows as hunting tools.
The "dancing costumes" they decorate is correctly known as regalia.
- Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1.