North American Native American Cultural Areas: North Pacific Area

Figure 1.--The Salish were confined to a reservation in northern Montana. This is Chief Moise with his family in front of their teepee. Source: David R. Phillips Collection.

This area comprished the coastal area from northern California to the Alaskan Peninsula on the western side of the Cacade Range. These tribes shared a range of commom cultural characteristics. They were accomplished canoists and fishermen. Wood working was higly developed, utilizing the resource of tis heavilt timbered area. Totem poles were characteriatic of the northern tribes. No pottery was made. Social organization was highly complex. Each clan or family had a body of tradition or ceremony, aspects of which were objectified in the form of crests carved upon totem poles or house fronts. Society consisted of chiefs, nobility, citizens, and slaves. More than elsewhere in North America, the sence of wealth was developed through extensive barter and forms of credit. A curious institution, the potlach was common in which the host, generally a wealthy chief, gave away all valuables. Religious socities with complex rituals were common. The major tribes were the Bella Coola, Chinook (after whom the salmon species is named), Haida, Kwakiult, Nootka, Salish, Tlinkit, and Tsimshian.


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Created: 3:12 AM 12/27/2008
Last updated: 11:26 PM 2/22/2013