Coast Salish languages

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Coast Salish
Salish Sea (Strait of Georgia (British Columbia, Canada) and Puget Sound (Washington state)
Linguistic classificationSalishan
Distribution of Coast Salish languages in the early 19th century

The Coast Salish languages, also known as the Central Salish languages,[1] are a branch of the Salishan language family. These languages are spoken by First Nations or Native American peoples inhabiting the Pacific Northwest, in the territory that is now known as the southwest coast of British Columbia around the Strait of Georgia and Washington State around Puget Sound. The term "Coast Salish" also refers to the cultures in British Columbia and Washington who speak one of these languages or dialects.


The Coast Salish languages are spoken around most of the Georgia and Puget Sound Basins, an area that encompasses the sites of the modern-day cities of Vancouver, British Columbia, Seattle, Washington, and others. Archeological evidence indicates that Coast Salish peoples may have inhabited the area as far back as 9000 BCE. What is now Seattle, for example, has been inhabited since the end of the last glacial period (c. 8,000 BCE—10,000 years ago).[2]

In the past, the Nuxálk language (also known as Bella Coola) of British Columbia's Central Coast has also been considered Coast Salish. This language shares at least one phonological change with Coast Salish (the merger of the Proto-Salish pharyngeal approximants with the uvular fricatives), but it also displays certain similarities to the Interior Salish languages. If it is indeed a member of the Coast Salish branch, it was the first to split off from the rest.[citation needed]


The Coast Salish languages can be classified in anywhere from one to three branches. The Tsamosan and Tillamoook languages are often considered by linguists to be independent branches under the Salishan language family, and not part of the Coast Salish branch.[1][3]


Below is a list of the Coast Salish languages.[1][3] Languages and dialects with no living native speakers are marked with .


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Currently undergoing revitalization.
  2. ^ a b Sometimes considered an independent branch, not part of the Coast Salish languages

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Thompson, Laurence C.; Kinkade, Dale (1990). Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 7. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 34–35. ISBN 9780160203909.
  2. ^ Carlson, Keith Thor, ed. (2001). A Stó:lō-Coast Salish Historical Atlas. Vancouver, BC: Douglas & McIntyre. pp. 6–18. ISBN 1-55054-812-3.
  3. ^ a b c van Eijk, Jan P. (Fall 2017). "Salish Words for 'Black Bear' and 'Grizzly Bear'". Anthropological Linguistics. 59 (3): 324–325 – via JSTOR.
  4. ^ "About Us". Nooksack Indian Tribe. 2023-09-21. Retrieved 2023-09-22.
  5. ^ Richardson, Allan (2011). Nooksack Place Names: Geography, Culture, and Language. Vancouver: UBC Press. ISBN 9780774820455.
  6. ^ "Language". Samish Indian Nation. Retrieved 2023-06-24.
  7. ^ "Klallam Language". Retrieved 2023-10-26.
  8. ^ Bates, Dawn; Hess, Thom; Hilbert, Vi (1994). Lushootseed Dictionary. Seattle: University of Washington Press. ISBN 978-0295973234.
  9. ^ "About Twulshootseed". Puyallup Tribal Language. Retrieved 2023-10-27.
  10. ^ Drachman, Gaberell (2020). tuwaduq - The Twana Language E-Dictionary Project (PDF). Skokomish Indian Tribe.
  11. ^ "Cowlitz Coast Salish Dictionary". Cowlitz Salish Dictionary. Cowlitz Indian Tribe. Retrieved 2023-11-08.


  • Bates, Dawn, Hess, Thom, and Hilbert, Vi; map by Dassow, Laura, 1994, Lushootseed dictionary, University of Washington Press, Seattle and London, ISBN 978-0-295-97323-4. (alk. paper) Revised and expanded update of Hess, Thom, Dictionary of Puget Salish (University of Washington Press, 1976). Accessed Sep 24, 2009.
  • Boyd, Robert (1999). The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence: Introduced Infectious Diseases and Population Decline Among Northwest Coast Indians. Seattle and Vancouver: University of Washington Press and University of British Columbia Press. ISBN 978-0-295-97837-6. (alk. paper)
  • Cole, Douglas and Chaikin, Ira (1990). An iron hand upon the people: the law against the potlatch on the Northwest coast. Vancouver and Seattle: Douglas & McIntyre and University of Washington Press.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) ISBN 978-0-295-97050-9. (acid-free paper)
  • Czaykowska-Higgins, Ewa and M. Dale Kinkade (1998) "Salish languages and linguistics" in ibid. (eds.) Salish Languages and Linguistics: Theoretical and Descriptive Perspectives. New York: Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 1–71. ISBN 978-3-11-015492-4.
  • Dailey, Tom (2006-06-14). "Duwamish-Seattle". Coast Salish Villages of Puget Sound. Retrieved 2006-04-21.
    Page links to Village Descriptions Duwamish-Seattle section [1].
    Dailey referenced "Puget Sound Geography" by T. T. Waterman. Washington DC: National Anthropological Archives, mss. [n.d.] [ref. 2];
    Duwamish et al. vs. United States of America, F-275. Washington DC: US Court of Claims, 1927. [ref. 5];
    "Indian Lake Washington" by David Buerge in the Seattle Weekly, 1–7 August 1984 [ref. 8];
    "Seattle Before Seattle" by David Buerge in the Seattle Weekly, 17–23 December 1980. [ref. 9];
    The Puyallup-Nisqually by Marian W. Smith. New York: Columbia University Press, 1940. [ref. 10].
    Recommended start is "Coast Salish Villages of Puget Sound" [2].
  • Kroeber, Paul D. (1999) The Salish Language Family: Reconstructing Syntax. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, ISBN 978-0-8032-2740-8.
  • Lange, Greg (2003-02-04) [2000-12-08]. "Smallpox Epidemic of 1862 among Northwest Coast and Puget Sound Indians". Essay 5171. Retrieved 2006-07-21.
    Lange referenced a very extensive list.
    Summary article
  • Miller, Jay (Lenape) (1996). "Seattle (Si'al)". In Hoxie, Frederick E. (ed.). Encyclopedia of North American Indians. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 574–6. ISBN 978-0-395-66921-1.
  • "The people and their land". Puget Sound Native Art and Culture. Seattle Art Museum. 2003-07-04. per "Native Art of the Northwest Coast: Collection Insight". Retrieved 2006-04-21. [dead link]
  • Suttles, Wayne; Lane, Barbara (1990-08-20). "South Coast Salish". In Sturtevant, William C. (ed.). Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 7. Northwest coast. Washington: Smithsonian Institution. p. 491. ISBN 0-87474-187-4. (v. 7).
  • Talbert, Paul (2006-05-01). "SkEba'kst: The Lake People and Seward Park". The History of Seward Park. Archived from the original on 2005-12-14. Retrieved 2006-06-06.
  • Thompson, Lawrence C; Kinkade, M. Dale (1990-08-20). "Languages". In Sturtevant, William C. (ed.). Handbook of North American Indians. Vol. 7. Northwest coast. Washington: Smithsonian Institution. pp. 30–51. ISBN 0-87474-187-4. (v. 7). Wayne Suttles (ed.)

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