Northwest Coast Indians

Published on September 13, 2011 by Amy

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Northwest Coast Indians
Northwest Coast Indians

Northwest Coast Indians were found in Oregon, Washington, and even as far north as Alaska. Some of the tribes that inhabited those states were the Bella Coola, Haida, Kwakiuts, Makah, Nez Perce, Nisqualli, Nootka, Quinault, Puyallup, Salish, Snohomish, Spokane, Shuswap, Swinomish, Tlingit, and Tsimshian.

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The Northwest Coast Indians were considered rich compared to the other Indian nations. They were considered rich because they had both an abundance of food and sturdy shelter. As with most tribes, the women did chores each day. This included weaving baskets and mats, collecting berries, making clothing, and cleaning house. The men’s day consisted of hunting and fishing. The Northwest Coast Indians built canoes from cedar trees. The tribe split trees in two, which was perfect for making a canoe. The canoes were 50 feet long and could hold up to 20 warriors and 10,000 pounds of fish.

The Northwest Coast Indians did not live in teepees like other tribes, but built longhouses out of wide cedar planks. These longhouses could be very large and if it was built by the tribe, the chief was in charge of assigning who lived in each longhouse. If it was built by an individual, he and his family lived in that longhouse. However, if the owner of the house died, it was often burned to the ground for fear of the owner’s spirit haunting the family if they remained in the house.

The Northwest Coast Indians used totem poles to tell stories, but they did not create the first totem poles. Totem poles were brought to them through trade and they loved them so, they started creating their own. Because the Northwest Coast Indians had no written language, the totem poles were a very important part of their culture. The totem poles allowed them to record stories, legends, and myths through images.

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Did You Know?

The smallest, by population, Federally Recognized Tribe in the United States is the “Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians, California (formerly the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians of the Augustine Reservation)”. There were only 8 enrolled members as of 2002.

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