NORTHWEST COAST


Northwest Coast Indians / Pacific Northwest Coast Indians
The term Northwest Coast Tribes or North West Coast is used in anthropology, primarily in the American context, is used to refer to the groups of Indigenous people residing along the West coast of Canada and the United States. 

The indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast are composed of many nations and tribal affiliations, each with distinctive cultural and political identities, but they share certain beliefs, traditions and practices, such as the centrality of salmon as a resource and spiritual symbol.

Location: Oregon | Washington | Alaska | Northern California | British Columbia

There are wide variations of climate and topography along the Pacific Ocean, including Tundra, Mountains and Temporate Rain Forests. The area generally has cool and wet summers and mild winters.

Ceremonial Masks:
The people of the Northwest Coast, particularly those in the Northern and Central portions of this culture area, are well known for their ceremonial masks.

Masks are made from wood, primarily cedar and occasionally maple, which is then painted with three primary colors: black or blue, red, and white.

These masks are both art objects and objects with spiritual significance.

Masks represent the animals and creatures of the four dimensions of the cosmos: the Sky World, the Mortal World, the Undersea World, and the Spirit World. One of the common themes in the mythology of the Northwest Coast is one in which ancestors come down from the sky and then remove their animal or bird costumes.

When used in ceremonies, the masks take on the life and spirit of the spirits which they represent. Traditionally, masks were guarded and hidden away, and not shown until they appeared in the ceremonial dance.

Northwest Coast Art

The Northwest Coast is a region in which an entrenched and highly valued artistic tradition flourished. Northwest Coast art-carving and painting-has a very characteristic style.

Most commonly, art is used for portraying the family crest and heraldic figures.Another media used by Northwest Coast artists is argillite. Argillite is a soft stone which is found in the Queen Charlotte Islands.

Cooking and Potlatches

One of the unique items among Northwest Coast Indians are kerfed wooden boxes in which the sides of the box are made by scoring and then bending a single board to form the sides of the box.

The single side seam is then carefully fitted and sewn together with spruce root.

The bottom of the box is also carefully fitted and sewn to the sides.

These boxes are waterproof and some are used for cooking. The watertight boxes can be filled with water and when hot stones are dropped into the box the water can be brought to a boil.

Many social events and ceremonies, such as a funeral or seasonal celebration, include a potlatch.

During the several days of the potlatch, the hosts provide the guests with two large meals per day. These were traditionally served from huge potlatch bowls, carved in the shape of a animal or man, that may be up to 12 feet long.

The potlatch is an expression of social stratification and so the lower ranking members of the society would be fed from the bowls at the knees and the highest ranking members would be fed from the head.

Potlatches also include many give-aways for various reasons.

The hosting family may save and gather food and giveaway items for a year or more before sponsoring a potlatch.

This is a way of redistributing wealth from the more prosperous tribal members to the more needy, or showing respect for a person who has passed.

Funeral potlatches are usually held about a year after the death of the deceased person, to give away his possessions.

Clothing of the Pacific Northwest Coast Indians

The Northwest Coast peoples have a wide variety of garments which are worn during ceremonies and for special occasions. Sometimes the clothes are decorated with crest designs that show the wearer’s clan.

One of the best examples of Northwest Coast weaving can be seen in the Chilkat Dancing Blankets or Robes.

These blankets combine the twining of mountain goat wool and cedar bark with the images of mythological creatures.

According to some experts, The pattern of the Chilcat blanket came from the Tsimshian and was adopted by the Tlingit, the Chilcat people specializing in its production, owning to the ease with which mountain goat’s wool could be procured in their district.

Traditionally, it would take a year or more to make a Chilkat Blanket. The blankets are woven by the women, but the designs are painted by male artists on special pattern boards.

Another kind of ceremonial blanket is the Button Blanket. Button blankets were developed during the 19th century. Most are made of dark blue wool with a red pattern.The buttons are sewn individually to create the desired pattern.

Northwest Coast Tribes / Pacific Coast Tribes

  • Alsea, Oregon
  • Bella Coola - See Heiltsuk
  • Nuxalk - See Heiltsuk
  • Tsleil-Waututh First Nation
  • Chehalis, (Upper and Lower), Washington
  • Chehalis, (BC), Fraser Valley
  • Chemakum, Washington (extinct)
  • Chetco – see Tolowa
  • Chilliwak, BC
  • Chinook (Dialects: Lower Chinook, Upper Chinook, Clackamas, Wasco)
  • Clallam – see Klallam
  • Clatsop
  • Comox, Vancouver Island/BC Georgia Strait
  • Coos Hanis Oregon
  • Lower Coquille (Miluk) Oregon
  • Upper Coquille
  • Cowichan, Southern Vancouver Island/Georgia Strait
    • Quwutsun
    • Somena
    • Quamichan
  • Lower Cowlitz, Washington
  • Duwamish, Washington
  • Eyak, Alaska
  • Galice
  • Gitxsan, British Columbia
  • Haida, (Dialects: Kaigani, Skidegate, Masset) BC & Alaska
  • Haisla, BC North/Central Coast
    • Haihai
    • Kimsquit
    • Kitimaat
  • Heiltsuk (Bella Coola, Nuxalk), BC Central Coast
  • Hoh, Washington
  • Kalapuya (Calapooia, Calapuya, Tfalatim, Yamel, Yaquina, Yoncalla), Oregon
    • Central Kalapuya, Oregon
      • Ahantchuyuk
      • Mary's River
      • Lakmiut
      • Mohawk, Oregon
      • Santiam
    • North Kalapuya, Oregon 
      • Tfalati (Atfalati)
      • Tualatin
      • Yamhill (Yamel)
    • South Kalapuya (Yonkalla, Yoncalla), Oregon
  • Klallam (Clallam, Dialects: Klallam (Lower Elwha), S'Klallam (Jamestown), S'Klallam (Port Gamble))
  • Klickitat
  • Kwalhioqua
  • Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl)
    • Koskimo
    • 'Namgis
    • Laich-kwil-tach (Euclataws or Yuculta)
  • Kwalhioqua
  • Lummi, Washington
  • Makah, Washington
  • Muckleshoot, Washington
    • Musqueam, BC Lower Mainland (Vancouver)
    • Nisga'a, (Tsetsaut), British Columbia
    • Nisqually, Washington
    • Nooksack, Washington
    • Nuu-chah-nulth, West Coast of Vancouver Island
    • Nuxalk (Bella Coola), – BC Central Coast 
    • Pentlatch, Vancouver Island/Georgia Strait (extinct)
    • Puyallup, Washington
    • Quileute, Washington
    • Quinault, Washington
    • Rivers Inlet – see Wuikinuxv
    • Rogue River Upper Illinois or Chasta Costa), Oregon, California
    • Saanich, Southern Vancouver Island/Georgia Strait
    • Sauk-Suiattle, Washington
    • Sechelt, BC Sunshine Coast/Georgia Strait (Shishalh)
    • Shoalwater Bay Tribe, Washington
    • Siletz, Oregon
    • Siuslaw, Oregon
    • Skagit, Washington
    • Skokomish, Washington
    • Sliammon, BC Sunshine Coast/Georgia Strait (Mainland Comox)
    • Snohomish, Washington
    • Snoqualmie, Washington
    • Snuneymuxw (Nanaimo), Vancouver Island
    • Songhees (Songish), Southern Vancouver Island/Strait of Juan de Fuca
    • Sooke, Southern Vancouver Island/Strait of Juan de Fuca
    • Skwxwu7mesh (Squamish), British Columbia
    • Squaxin Island, Washington
    • Spokane, Washington
    • Stillaguamish, Washington
    • Sto:lo, BC Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley
      • Kwantlen
      • Katzie
    • Suquamish, Washington
    • Swinomish (Samish), Washington
    • Tait
    • Takelma, Oregon
    • Talio
    • Tillamook (Nehalem), Oregon
    • Tlatlasikoala
    • Tlingit, Alaska
    • Tolowa-Tututni, Northern California
    • Tongass Indians
    • Tsimshian, (Dialects: Hartley Bay, Prince Rupert, Gitando, Kitkatla), Alaska
    • Tsleil-waututh (Burrard), British Columbia
    • Tulalip, Washington
    • Twana, Washington
    • Tzouk-e (Sooke), Vancouver Island
    • Lower Umpqua, Oregon
    • Upper Umpqua, Oregon
    • Upper Skagit, Washington
    • Wuikinuxv (Owekeeno, Rivers Inlet), BC Central Coast
  • Nanaimo  (contraction of Snanaímux),  Vancouver Island and on Nanaimo Lake, British Columbia

Calapooia - see Kalapuya
Calapuya - see Kalapuya
Chasta (Shasta) - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Chasta Costa - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Chasta Costa - see Rogue River
Chehalis (Upper and Lower), Washington - See Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation
Chehalis, (BC), Fraser Valley

Chinook - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon
Chinook (Thomas Band Chinook, Williams Band Chinook, Wal-la-lah band of Tumwaters, Johns Band Chinook, Clackamas Chinook (Oregon City)) - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Chemakum, Washington (extinct)
Chetco - (Tolowa) - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon
Clallam - see Klallam
Clatskanie (Tlatskanie)
Clatsop - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon
Coos (Hanis) - See Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians of Oregon
Coos (Miluk) - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon and  Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians of Oregon

Lower Coquille (Miluk) - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon
Upper Coquille - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon

French Canadian (Iroquois) - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Lower Cowlitz Washington

Quwutsun
Somena
Quamichan



Galice - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon

Kimsquit
Kitimaat



Kalapuya (Calapooia, Calapuya)- See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon

 

 

Yamhill (Yamel) - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Tualatin - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Tfalati (Atfalati) - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon

Central Kalapuya

Santiam - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Mary's River - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Lakmiut
Ahantchuyuk - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Lower McKenzie (Mohawk people), Oregon

South Kalapuya, (Yonkalla, Yoncalla) - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon

Kwantlen
Katzie

Kimsquit
Kitimat

Klallam (Clallam, Dialects: Lower Elwha Klallam, Jamestown S'Klallam, Port Gamble S'Klallam) - Also See Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation
Klemtu
Klickitat - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon and Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Koskimo
Kwalhioqua
Kwakiutl (Kwakwala or Kwakwa'kwa'kw)

Kwantlem
Kwatami

Laich-kwil-tach (Euclataws or Yuculta)

Lakmiut - see Kalapuya
Lower McKenzie - see Kalapuya
Lower Umpqua - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon
Lower Umpqua - See Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians of Oregon
Lummi Washington
Lushootseed

Makah Washington
Mary's River - see Kalapuya
Molala - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon and Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon
Muckleshoot - Also See Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation
Musqueam, BC Lower Mainland (Vancouver)

'Namgis


Niskwalli - See Nisqually
Nisqually - Also See Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation
Nooksack Indian Tribe of Washington

Oowekeno - see Wuikinuxv 

Oowekyala - See Heiltsuk

Quinault - Also See Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation

Rivers Inlet - see Wuikinuxv
Rogue River or Upper Illinois Oregon, California - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon


Samish - See Swinomish
Santiam - see Kalapuya
Shasta - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon
Siletz Oregon - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon
Siuslaw - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon
Siuslaw - See Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians of Oregon

Songhees (Songish), Southern Vancouver Island/Strait of Juan de Fuca
South Kalapuya - see Kalapuya

Takelma - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon
Tfalati - see Kalapuya
Tillamook (Nehalem), Oregon - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon
Tillamook (Salmon River, Nehalem, Nestucka) - See Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of OregonTualatin - see Kalapuya
Tututni - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon

Lower Umpqua - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon
Upper Umpqua - See Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians of Oregon

Pacific Northwest and Plateau Indian Wars

 

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Subcategories

Article Index:

Alaska Northwest Coast Cultures

The Eyak, Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian share a common and similar Northwest Coast Culture with important differences in language and clan system.

Interior Secretary approves Nooksack tribal disenrollment process

The Department of the Interior has potentially cleared the way for the Nooksack Indian Tribe to strip 306 people of their tribal membership over the telephone. In the most recent step of a process that the tribal council started two years ago, the Secretary of the Interior has ruled that a September 2014 tribal ordinance detailing a disenrollment process is legal under the tribe’s constitution.