Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast

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, and many cultivation and subsistence practices. The term Northwest Coast or North West Coast is used in anthropology to refer to the groups of Indigenous people residing along the coast of British Columbia, Washington state, parts of Alaska, Oregon, and northern California. The term Pacific Northwest is largely used in the American context.

At one point the region had the highest population density of a region inhabited by Indigenous peoples in Canada.[1][2][3]

Chief Anotklosh of the Taku Tribe of the Tlingit people, ca. 1913
Three young chinook men
Three young Chinook men

List of nations

The Pacific Northwest Coast at one time had the most densely populated areas of indigenous people ever recorded in Canada.[1][2][3] The land and waters provided rich natural resources through cedar and salmon, and highly structured cultures developed from relatively dense populations. Within the Pacific Northwest, many different nations developed, each with their own distinct history, culture, and society. Some cultures in this region were very similar and share certain elements, such as the importance of salmon to their cultures, while others differed. Prior to contact, and for a brief time after colonization, some of these groups regularly conducted war against each other through raids and attacks. Through warfare they gathered captives for slavery.


Ceremonial cape, Tlingit people, Chilkat clan, northwest coast of North America, 1850-1900 AD, cedar bark, mountain goat hair, sheep's wool, view 1 - Textile Museum, George Washington University - DSC09926
Ceremonial cape, Tlingit people

The Tlingit (/ˈklɪŋkɪt/ KLINK-it, /ˈtlɪŋɡɪt/; the latter is considered inaccurate) are one of the furthest north indigenous nations in the Pacific Northwest Coast. Their autonym is Lingít [ɬɪŋkɪ́t], meaning "Human being". The Russian name for them, Koloshi, was derived from an Aleut term for the labret; and the related German name, Koulischen, may be encountered in older historical literature.

The Tlingit are a matrilineal society. They developed a complex hunter-gatherer culture in the temperate rainforest of the Alaska Panhandle and adjoining inland areas of present-day British Columbia.


The Tsetsaut were an Athabaskan speaking people whose territory was at the head of the Portland Canal. Little is known about them. Decimated by raiding and disease, their survivors were absorbed into the Nisga'a. The latter people now hold their former territories as they are now extinct.


The Haida people (/ˈhaɪdə/ HY-də) are well known as skilled artisans of wood, metal and design. They have also shown much perseverance and resolve in the area of forest conservation. The vast forests of cedar and spruce where the Haida make their home are on pre-glacial land, which is believed to be almost 14,000 years old.

Haida communities located in Prince of Wales Island, Alaska and Haida Gwaii, British Columbia (previously referred to as the Queen Charlotte Islands) also share a common border with other Indigenous peoples, such as the Tlingit and the Tsimshian. The Haida were also famous for their long-distance raiding and slaving, reaching as far as Mexico.


Tsimpsian tribe No 2010 (HS85-10-11581)
Tsimshian people in 1900

The Tsimshian (/ˈsɪmʃiən/ SIM-shee-ən), translated as "People Inside the Skeena River," are indigenous people who live around Terrace and Prince Rupert on the North Coast of British Columbia, and the southernmost corner of Alaska on Annette Island. There are about 10,000 Tsimshian, of which about 1,300 live in Alaska.

Succession in Tsimshian society is matrilineal, and one's place in society was determined by one's clan or phratry (defined as four equal parts). Four main Tsimshian clans form the basic phratry. The Laxsgiik (Eagle Clan) and Ganhada (Raven Clan) form one half. Gispwudwada (Killer Whale Clan) and Laxgibuu (Wolf Clan) form the other half. Prior to European contact, marriage in Tsimshian society could not take place within a half-group, for example between a Wolf and a Killer Whale. It was considered to be incest even if there was no blood relationship. Marriages were only arranged between people from clans in different halves: for example, between a Killer Whale and a Raven or Eagle.


The Gitxsan or Gitksan, meaning "people of the Skeena River", were known with the Nisga'a as Interior Tsimshian. They speak a closely related language to Nisga'a, though both are related to Coast Tsimshian. This is the English term for Tsimshian spoken on the coast. Although inland, their culture is part of the Northwest Coast culture area, and they share many common characteristics, including the clan system, an advanced art style, and war canoes. They share an historic alliance with the neighbouring Wetʼsuwetʼen, a subgroup of the Dakelh (or Carrier people). Together they waged a battle in the courts against British Columbia known as Delgamuukw v British Columbia, which had to do with land rights.


The Haisla (also Xa’islak’ala, X̄a’islakʼala, X̌àʼislakʼala, X̣aʼislak’ala) are an indigenous nation living at Kitamaat in the North Coast region of the Canadian province of British Columbia. The name Haisla is derived from the Haisla word x̣àʼisla or x̣àʼisəla, "(those) living at the rivermouth, living downriver".


The Heiltsuk (/ˈhaɪltsʊk/ HYLE-tsuuk)[4] are an indigenous Nation of the Central Coast region of the Canadian province of British Columbia, centred on the island communities of Bella Bella and Klemtu. The Heiltsuk are the descendants of a number of tribal groups who came together in Bella Bella in the 19th century. They generally prefer the autonym Heiltsuk. Anthropology labelled them the Bella Bella, which is how they are more widely known.


The Nuxalk (pronounced [nuχalk]), also known as the Bella Coola, are an Indigenous people of the Central Coast, as well as the furthest north of the Coast Salish cultures. Linguists have classified their Salishan language as independent of both Interior and Coast Salish language groups. It is quite different from that of their coastal neighbours, though it contains a large number of Wakashan loan words. They are believed to have been more connected to Interior Salish peoples, before Athabaskan-speaking groups now inland from them spread southwards, cutting the Nuxalk off from their linguistic relatives.


The Wuikinuxv, also known as the Owekeeno or Rivers Inlet people (after their location), speak a language related to Heiltsuk, Wuikyala or Oowekyala (they are dialects of a language that has no independent name; linguists refer to it as Heiltsuk-Oweekyala). Together with the Heiltsuk and Haisla, they were once incorrectly known as the Northern Kwakiutl because of their language's close relationship with Kwakʼwala. Greatly reduced in numbers today, like other coastal peoples they were master carvers and painters. They had an elaborate ritual and clan system. The focus of their territory was Owikeno Lake, a freshwater fjord above a short stretch of river at the head of Rivers Inlet.


Edward Curtis Image 005
Kwakwakaʼwakw people at a wedding ceremony in 1914

The Kwakwakaʼwakw are an indigenous people, numbering about 5,500, who live in British Columbia on northern Vancouver Island and the mainland. The autonym they prefer is Kwakwakaʼwakw. Their Indigenous language, part of the Wakashan languages family, is Kwakʼwala. The name Kwakwakaʼwakw means "speakers of Kwakʼwala". The language is now spoken by less than 5% of the population—about 250 people. Today 17 separate tribes make up the Kwakwakaʼwakw, who historically spoke the common language of Kwakʼwala. Some Kwakwakaʼwakw groups are now extinct. Kwakʼwala is a Northern Wakashan language, a grouping shared with Haisla, Heiltsuk and Oowekyala.


The Nuu-chah-nulth (/nuːˈtʃɑːnʊlθ/ noo-CHAH-nuulth; Salish: [nuːt͡ʃaːnˀuɬ]) are an Indigenous people in Canada. Their traditional home is in the Pacific Northwest on the west coast of Vancouver Island. In pre-contact and early post-contact times, the number of nations was much greater, but as in the rest of the region, smallpox and other consequences of contact resulted in the disappearance of some groups, and the absorption of others into neighbouring groups.

They were among the first Pacific peoples north of California to come into contact with Europeans. Competition between Spain and the United Kingdom over control of Nootka Sound led to a bitter international dispute around 1790, which was settled when Spain agreed to abandon its claim of exclusivity to the North Pacific coast, and to pay damages for British ships seized during the dispute. The Nuu-chah-nulth speak a Southern Wakashan language and are closely related to the Makah and Ditidaht.


The Makah are a Southern Wakashan people and are closely related to the Nuu-chah-nulth. They are also noted as whalers. Their territory is around the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula.

Coast Salish

A Squamish elder woman spinning wool on spindle-whorl, circa 1893

The Coast Salish are the largest of the southern groups. They are a loose grouping of many tribes with numerous distinct cultures and languages. Territory claimed by Coast Salish peoples spans from the northern end of the Strait of Georgia, along the east side of Vancouver Island, covering most of southern Vancouver Island, all of the Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast, all of Puget Sound except (formerly) for the Chimakum territory near Port Townsend, and all of the Olympic Peninsula except that of the Quileute, related to the now-extinct Chemakum. The Strait of Georgia and Puget Sound were officially united as the Salish Sea in 2010.

The Coast Salish cultures differ considerably from those of their northern neighbours. It is one of the few Indigenous cultures along the coast with a patrilineal, not matrilineal, culture. They are also one of the few peoples on the coast whose traditional territories coincide with contemporary major metropolitan areas, namely the North Straits Salish-speaking peoples in and around Victoria, the Halkomelem-speaking peoples in and around Vancouver, and the Lushootseed-speaking peoples in and around Seattle. Pre-European contact, the Coast Salish numbered in the tens of thousands, and as such were one of the most populous groups on the northwest coast


The Chimakum people were a Chimakuan-speaking people whose traditional territory lay in the area of Port Townsend. Beset by warfare from surrounding Salish peoples, their last major presence in the region was eradicated by the Suquamish under Chief Seattle in the mid-19th century. Some survivors were absorbed by neighbouring Salish peoples, while some moved to join the Quileute on the southeast side of the Olympic Peninsula.


The Quileute (/ˈkwɪliuːt/) are a Chimakuan-speaking people. Their traditional territory is in the western Olympic Peninsula, around the Quillayute and Hoh Rivers.


The Willapa people are a traditionally Athabaskan-speaking people of southwestern Washington. Their territory was between Willapa Bay (named after them) and the prairie lands around the head of the Chehalis and Cowlitz Rivers. A related people, known as the Clatskanie (/ˈklætskɪnaɪ/) or Tlatskani, lived on the south side of the Columbia River in northwestern Oregon.


The Chinookan peoples were once one of the most powerful and populous groups of tribes on the southern part of the Northwest Coast. Their territories flank the mouth of the Columbia River and stretch up that river in a narrow band adjacent to that river, as far as Celilo Falls. Their group of dialects are known as Chinookan. It is distinguished from the Chinook Jargon, which was partly based upon it, and is often called "Chinook." Close allies of the Nuu-chah-nulth, they are also a canoe people, and pre-European contact, Chinook Jargon arose as a trading language incorporating both Chinookan and Wakashan vocabulary. The Chinookan peoples practiced slavery, likely learned from the Nuu-chah-nulth as it was more common to the north, and cranial deformation. Those without flattened heads were considered to be beneath or servile to those who had undergone the procedure as infants.

One likely reason for the cultural prominence of the Chinookan peoples was their strategic position along the Columbia River, which acted as a massive trade corridor, as well as near Celilo Falls, the longest continuously-inhabited site in the Americas, used as a fishing site and trading hub for 15,000 years by a wide range of indigenous peoples.


The Tillamook or Nehalem peoples were a Coast Salishan-speaking group of tribes living roughly between Tillamook Head and Cape Meares on the northern Oregon Coast. The term 'Tillamook' itself is in fact an exonym, from the neighbouring Chinook-speaking Kathlamet people. Although the Tillamook language was a Coast Salish language, it was somewhat divergent from its more northerly cousins; likewise, the Tillamook culture was substantially different from that of other Coast Salish cultures, apparently influenced by its southern neighbours. They, and their southern neighbours, were less reliant on salmon runs and more reliant on fish trapping in estuaries, hunting, and shellfish gathering.

Daʼnaxdaʼxw Nation

The Daʼnaxdaʼxw Nation, or Da'naxda'xw/Awaetlatla Nation is a First Nations government in northern Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada, their main community is the community of Alert Bay in the Queen Charlotte Strait region.[5] There are approximately 225 members of the Daʼnaxdaʼxw Nation.[6] The Nation is a member of the Kwakiutl District Council and, for treaty negotiation purposes, the Winalagalis Treaty Group which includes three other members of the Kwakiutl District Council (the Quatsino First Nation, the Gwaʼsala-ʼNakwaxdaʼxw Nations, and the Tlatlasikwala Nation).[7]


A Kwakwakaʼwakw canoe in 1910.
Salish canoe
A canoe awaiting traditional invitation to make landfall by the local S'Klallam people at a beach in Port Angeles, Washington, in 2010. Canoes from several Coast Salish groups arrived for a ceremony commemorating the official naming of the Salish Sea.

The area referred to as the Northwest Coast has a very long history of human occupation, exceptional linguistic diversity, population density and cultural and ceremonial development. Noted by anthropologists for its complexity, there is emerging research that the economies of these people were more complex and intensive than was previously assumed. Many groups have First Generation Stories - family stories that tell of the origin of the group, and often of humans themselves arising in specific locations along the coast.

"the Indian history of British Columbia... began at least a hundred centuries before the Province itself was born...." Wilson Duff[8]

On the northwest coast of North America, the mild climate and abundant natural resources made possible the rise of a complex Aboriginal culture. The people who lived in what are today British Columbia, Washington, and Oregon were able to obtain a good living without much effort. They had time and energy to devote to the development of fine arts and crafts and to religious and social ceremonies.

European colonization

The indigenous populations were devastated by epidemics of infectious diseases, especially smallpox, brought in by European explorers and traders. Prior to European colonization, various reports from European explorers describe the tribes in the area bearing signs of smallpox. Nathaniel Portlock, a British ship's captain, described as having "expected to have seen a numerous tribe" but instead found "only of three men, three women" as well as the oldest of the men "marked with the small-pox", when referring to the Tlingit people in the North West Coast. Oral traditions of various tribes in the Pacific Northwest also refer to an epidemic of smallpox on the populations.[9] There are many theories to how smallpox arrived in the Pacific Northwest. One theory is that an outbreak in central Mexico in 1779 spread north and infected the Shoshone in 1781, allowing the disease to spread into the lower Columbia River and Strait of Georgia via trade between the Flathead, Nez Perce, Walla Walla, and other various tribes.[10] Spanish expeditions to the Northwest Coast from Mexico in 1774, 1775, and 1779 are also attributed to spreading smallpox to the local tribes in the area, with many documented outbreaks correlating to where the Spanish made landfall. Another theory describes the outbreak originating in the Kamchatka Peninsula in 1769 and spreading via Russian explorers to South Alaska and the Aleutians, thus through the Alaska panhandle and down the Pacific Coast.[11]

Due to the native population having no prior exposure to Old World diseases, local tribes may have lost as much as 90% of their population.[12] This depopulation enabled an easier colonization of the Pacific Northwest by European and American migrants.[13]

Current times

In current times the political and current context of life for these indigenous peoples varies, especially considering their relationship to Canada and the United States. In Canada Indigenous peoples are one of the fastest growing groups with a young and increasing population. Significant issues persist as a result of colonial laws and the now infamous Canadian Indian residential school system. Many of the most repressive elements of the Indian Act (federal legislation governing First Nations) were removed in 1951, and the right for First Nations to vote was granted in 1960. The 1951 amendment to the Indian Act lifted the potlatch ban, though the ban was never fully effective - it had pushed traditional culture underground. Since 1951 ceremonial practices and the potlatch have re-emerged widely along the coast.

One development in recent times is the revival of ocean-going cedar canoes. Beginning in the late 1980s with early Haida and Heiltsuk canoes, the revival spread quickly after the Paddle to Seattle in 1989 and the 1993 'Qatuwas canoe festival in Bella Bella.[14] Many other journeys to different places along the coast have occurred; these voyages have come to be known as Tribal Canoe Journeys.

Material culture

Root digging stick at Rocky Reach Dam Museum 2
Root digging stick with handle

Both the sea and the land provided important sources of food and raw materials to Indigenous Peoples of the Northwest Coast, and many of these resources needed to be managed to ensure continual harvest. Historians and ethnographers provide evidence of cultivation practices and environment management strategies that have been used by First Nations peoples for centuries along the Northwest Coast.[15] Practices like digging and tilling, pruning, controlled burning, fertilizing, streamscaping and habitat creation allowed Indigenous groups to intentionally manage the environment around them in order to encourage greater production of a resource for sustained harvesting.[16]

Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast harvested root crops and shellfish through a process of digging and tilling. Using a digging stick made from hard wood, First Nations people would work the ground between tree roots and in bulb and rhizome patches, which loosened the compacted soil. Loosened soils made it easier to remove root crops whole and undamaged,[17] and allowed roots, bulbs and rhizomes to grow more freely and abundantly with increased production.[18]

Society and culture


Wawadit'la(Mungo Martin House) a Kwakwaka'wakw big house
The Kwakwakaʼwakw continue the practice of potlatch. Illustrated here is Wawadit'la in Thunderbird Park, Victoria, (aka Mungo Martin House) a Kwakwaka'wakw "big house" built by Chief Mungo Martin in 1953. Very wealthy and prominent hosts would have a plankhouse specifically for potlatching and for housing guests.

A potlatch is a highly complex event where people gather in order to commemorate a specific event (such as the raising of a totem pole or the appointment/election of a new chief). These potlatches would usually be held in competition with one another, providing a forum to display wealth within a tribe.

In the potlatch ceremony the chief would give highly elaborate gifts to visiting peoples in order to establish his power and prestige, and by accepting these gifts the visitors conveyed their approval of the chief. There were also great feasts and displays of conspicuous consumption, such as the burning of articles, or throwing things into the sea, purely as a display of the great wealth of the chief. Groups of dancers put on elaborate dances and ceremonies. These dancers were members of secret "dancing societies". Watching these performances was considered an honour. Potlatches were held for several reasons: the confirmation of a new chief; coming of age; tattooing or piercing ceremonies; initiation into a secret society; marriages; the funeral of a chief; battle victory.


Among the Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast, the music varied in function and expression. As some groups have more cultural differences than the rest (like the Coast Salish and the more northern nations), there remains a lot of similarities.

Some instruments used by the Indigenous were hand drums made of animal hides, plank drums, log drums, box drums, along with whistlers, wood clappers, and rattles. A great deal of the instruments were used mostly in the potlatch, but also carried over in to other festivities throughout the year.

The songs employed are used with dancing, although it is also for celebration, which at times may not be accompanied by dancing. Most singing is community based. There are some solo parts, often the lead singer would begin in the first line of each round of a song, but not long solos. For some ceremonies, solo songs would be used by men and women without the accompaniment of any person or drum.

Usually slow in tempo and accompanied by a drum. Principal function of music in this area is spiritual; music honors the Earth, Creator, Ancestors, all aspects of the supernatural world. Sacred songs are not often shared with the wider world. Women and men, families own their own songs as property which can be inherited, sold or given as a gift to a prestigious guest at a Feast. Professionals existed for some communities, but music is taught and then rehearsed. For some nations, the tradition was those who made musical errors were punished, usually through shaming. Employing octave singing, but rather than running up and down the scale, it is not uncommon to jump notes and go from bottom to top or top to bottom in a couple of notes. Vocal Rhythmic patterns are often complex and run counter to rigid percussion beats. The tribes would dance in groups in circles.


Totem RMBC 1
Totem poles in Victoria, British Columbia

The creation of beautiful and practical objects (for all tribal communities) served as a means of transmitting stories, history, wisdom and property from generation to generation. Art provided Indigenous people with a tie to the land by depicting their histories on totem poles the Big (Plank) Houses of the Pacific Northwest coast – the symbols depicted were a constant reminder of their birth places, lineages and nations.

Due to the abundance of natural resources and the affluence of most Northwest tribes, there was plenty of leisure time to create art. Many works of art served practical purposes, such as clothing, tools, weapons of war and hunting, transportation, cooking, and shelter; but others were purely aesthetic.

Pacific Northwest Coast: Spiritualism, the supernatural and the importance of the environment played integral roles in day-to-day life. Therefore, it was not unusual for their worldly goods to be adorned with symbols, crests and totems that represented some important figure(s) from both the seen and unseen worlds.

Often different northern tribes would adorn their possessions with symbols that represented a tribe as a collective (i.e., clan); this would often be a signal of differentiation among tribal groups. Such symbols could be compared to a coat of arms, or running up the flag of a country on a sailing ship, as it approached a harbour.

After the arrival of the Europeans, Indigenous artifacts suddenly became a hot commodity to be collected and placed in museums and other institutions, and many tribal groups were looted of their precious items by over-zealous collectors.

It is only in recent years that many Indigenous organizations have been calling for a return of some of their sacred items, such as masks and regalia, that symbolize their cultural heritage.


Haplogroup Q1a3a is a Y chromosome haplogroup generally associated with the Indigenous peoples of the Americas.[19] The Q-M3 mutation appears on the Q lineage roughly 10 to 15 thousand years ago, as the migration throughout the Americas was underway by the early Paleo-Indians.[20] The Na-Dené, Inuit and Indigenous Alaskan populations exhibit haplogroup Q (Y-DNA) mutations, however, which are distinct from other indigenous Amerindians along with various mtDNA mutations.[21][22][23] This suggests that the migrant ancestors of the current inhabitants of the northern extremes of North America and Greenland derived from later migrant populations.[24]

See also


  1. ^ a b Aboriginal Identity (8), Sex (3) and Age Groups (12) for the Population of Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas and Census Agglomerations, 2006 Census-20% Sample Data Click to view table notes, BC Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  2. ^ a b Number and percentage of population reporting Aboriginal identity, Canada, provinces and territories, 2006 Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  3. ^ a b Percentage of Aboriginal people in the population, Canada, provinces and territories, 2006 Retrieved 2009-10-05.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Profile: Da'naxda'xw First Nation". British Columbia Assembly of First Nations. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  6. ^ "Da'naxda'xw Awaetlala Nation". BC Treaty Commission. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  7. ^ "Community Profile: Da'naxda'xw First Nation". British Columbia Assembly of First Nations. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
  8. ^ Duff, Wilson (1964). The Indian History of British Columbia: Volume 1 The Impact of the White Man. Anthropology in British Columbia Memoir No. 5, 1964. Victoria: Province of British Columbia Department of Recreation and Conservation. p. 7.
  9. ^ Boyd, Robert (1999). The Coming of the Spirit of Pestilence: Introduced Infectious Diseases and Population Decline among Northwest Coast Indians, 1774-1874. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press. p. 23. ISBN 978-0295978376.
  10. ^ Harris, Cole (Autumn 1994). "Voices of Disaster: Smallpox around the Strait of Georgia in 1782". Ethnohistory. 41 (4): 591–626. doi:10.2307/482767. JSTOR 482767.
  11. ^ Boyd, Robert (1996-01-01). "Commentary on Early Contact-Era Smallpox in the Pacific Northwest". Ethnohistory. 43 (2): 307–328. doi:10.2307/483399. JSTOR 483399.
  12. ^ Crosby, Alfred W. (1976-01-01). "Virgin Soil Epidemics as a Factor in the Aboriginal Depopulation in America". The William and Mary Quarterly. 33 (2): 289–299. doi:10.2307/1922166. JSTOR 1922166.
  13. ^ Scott, Leslie (1928). Indian Diseases as Aids to Pacific Northwest Settlement. Oregon Historical Society. pp. 144–161.
  14. ^ Neel, David The Great Canoes: Reviving a Northwest Coast Tradition. Douglas & McIntyre. 1995. ISBN 1-55054-185-4
  15. ^ Deur, Douglas; Turner, Nancy J. (2005). "Chapter 1: Introduction Reconstructing Indigenous Resource Management, Reconstructing the History of an Idea". In Deur, Douglas; Turner, Nancy J. (eds.). Keeping it living Traditions of plant use and cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America. UBC Press. pp. 22–23. ISBN 978-0-295-98565-7.
  16. ^ Deur and Turner 2005, p.16.
  17. ^ Deur, Douglas (2005). "Chapter 11: Tending the Garden, Making the Soil (Northwest Coast Estuarine Gardens as Engineered Environments)". In Deur, Douglas; Turner, Nancy J. (eds.). Keeping it living Traditions of plant use and cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America. UBC Press. p. 314. ISBN 978-0-295-98565-7.
  18. ^ Turner, Nancy J; Peacock, Sandra (2005). "Chapter 4: Solving the Perennial Paradox (Ethnobotanical Evidence for Plant Resource Management on the Northwest Coast)". In Deur, Douglas; Turner, Nancy J. (eds.). Keeping it living Traditions of plant use and cultivation on the Northwest Coast of North America. UBC Press. p. 117. ISBN 978-0-295-98565-7.
  19. ^ Fagundes, Nelson J.R.; Ricardo Kanitz; Roberta Eckert; Ana C.S. Valls; Mauricio R. Bogo; Francisco M. Salzano; David Glenn Smith; Wilson A. Silva; Marco A. Zago; Andrea K. Ribeiro-dos-Santos; Sidney E.B. Santos; Maria Luiza Petzl-Erler; Sandro L.Bonatto (2008). "Mitochondrial Population Genomics Supports a Single Pre-Clovis Origin with a Coastal Route for the Peopling of the Americas" (PDF). American Journal of Human Genetics. 82 (3): 583–592. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2007.11.013. PMC 2427228. PMID 18313026. Retrieved 2009-11-19.
  20. ^ Wang, Sijia; Lewis, Cecil M.; Jakobsson, Mattias; Ramachandran, Sohini; Ray, Nicolas; Bedoya, Gabriel; Rojas, Winston; Parra, Maria V.; Molina, Julio A.; Gallo, Carla; Mazzotti, Guido; Poletti, Giovanni; Hill, Kim; Hurtado, Ana M.; Labuda, Damian; Klitz, William; Barrantes, Ramiro; Bortolini, Maria Cátira; Salzano, Francisco M.; Petzl-Erler, Maria Luiza; Tsuneto, Luiza T.; Llop, Elena; Rothhammer, Francisco; Excoffier, Laurent; Feldman, Marcus W.; Rosenberg, Noah A.; Ruiz-Linares, Andrés (2007). "Genetic Variation and Population Structure in Native Americans". Plos Genetics. 3 (11): 3(11). doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0030185. PMC 2082466. PMID 18039031.
  21. ^ Zegura SL, Karafet TM, Zhivotovsky LA, Hammer MF (January 2004). "High-resolution SNPs and microsatellite haplotypes point to a single, recent entry of Native American Y chromosomes into the Americas". Molecular Biology and Evolution. 21 (1): 164–75. doi:10.1093/molbev/msh009. PMID 14595095.
  22. ^ Ruhlen M (November 1998). "The origin of the Na-Dene". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 95 (23): 13994–6. Bibcode:1998PNAS...9513994R. doi:10.1073/pnas.95.23.13994. PMC 25007. PMID 9811914.
  23. ^ Juliette Saillard; Peter Forster; Niels Lynnerup; Hans-Jürgen Bandelt; Søren Nørby (2000). "mtDNA Variation among Greenland Eskimos. The Edge of the Beringian Expansion". Laboratory of Biological Anthropology, Institute of Forensic Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, University of Hamburg, Hamburg. 67 (3): 718–726. doi:10.1086/303038. PMC 1287530. PMID 10924403. Retrieved 2009-11-22. The relatively lower coalescence time of the entire haplogroup A2 including the shared sub-arctic branches A2b (Siberians and Inuit) and A2a (Eskimos and Na-Dené) is probably due to secondary expansions of haplogroup A2 from the Beringia area, which would have averaged the overall internal variation of haplogroup A2 in North America.
  24. ^ A. Torroni; T. G. Schurr; C. C. Yang; EJE Szathmary; R. C. Williams; M. S. Schanfield; G. A. Troup; W. C. Knowler; D. N. Lawrence; K. M. Weiss; D. C. Wallace (January 1992). "Native American Mitochondrial DNA Analysis Indicates That the Amerind and the Nadene Populations Were Founded by Two Independent Migrations". Center for Genetics and Molecular Medicine and Departments of Biochemistry and Anthropology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia. Genetics Society of America. Vol 130, 153–162. 130 (1): 153–162. Retrieved 2009-11-28. The divergence time for the Nadene portion of the HaeIII np 663 lineage was about 6,000–10,000 years. Hence, the ancestral Nadene migrated from Asia independently and considerably more recently than the progenitors of the Amerinds

External links

Coast Salish

The Coast Salish is a group of ethnically and linguistically related Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, living in British Columbia, Canada and the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon. They speak one of the Coast Salish languages. Nuxalk (Bella Coola) nation are usually included in the group, although their language is more closely related to Interior Salish languages.

The Coast Salish are a big loose grouping of many tribes with numerous distinct cultures and languages. Territory claimed by Coast Salish peoples span from the northern limit of the Salish Sea (aka Strait of Georgia) on the inside of Vancouver Island and covers most of southern Vancouver Island, all of the Lower Mainland and most of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula (except for territories of now-extinct Chemakum people). Their traditional territories coincide with modern major metropolitan areas, namely Victoria, Vancouver, and Seattle. The Tillamook or Nehalem around Tillamook, Oregon are the southernmost of the Coast Salish peoples.

The Coast Salish cultures differ considerably from those of their northern neighbours. It is one of the few indigenous cultures along the coast with a patrilineal rather than matrilineal kinship system, with inheritance and descent passed through the male line. According to a 2013 estimate, the population of Coast Salish numbers at least 56,590 people, made up of 28,406 Status Indians registered to Coast Salish bands in British Columbia, and 28,284 enrolled members of federally recognized Coast Salish tribes in Washington State.

Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation

The Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation is a federally recognized tribe of Upper and Lower Chehalis, Klallam, Muckleshoot, Nisqually, and Quinault peoples. They are one of the Northern Straits branch Central Coast Salish peoples of indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast. Their tribe is located in southwest Washington.

The Confederated Tribes' traditional territories were along the Black, Chehalis, Cowlitz, Elk, Johns, Newaukum, Satsop, Shookumchuck, and Wynoochee Rivers, and near Grays Harbor and on the lower Puget Sound of Washington.

Cowlitz Indian Tribe

The Cowlitz Indian Tribe is a federally recognized tribe of Cowlitz people. They are a tribe of Southwestern Coast Salish and Sahaptan people indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest located in Washington. The tribe is named for the Cowlitz River.Other Cowlitz people are enrolled in the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation, and Quinault Indian Nation.

Dana Lepofsky

Dana Sue Lepofsky (born 1958) is a Canadian archaeologist and ethnobiologist. She is a professor at Simon Fraser University, a former president of the Society of Ethnobiology, and received the Smith-Wintemberg Award in 2018. Her research focuses on the historical ecology of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.


The Ganhada (variously spelled, but often as G̱anhada) is the name for the Raven "clan" (phratry) in the language of the Tsimshian nation of British Columbia, Canada, and southeast Alaska. It is considered analogous or identical to the G̱anada (Raven/Frog) Tribe of the Nisga'a nation in British Columbia and the Frog clan among B.C.'s Gitxsan nation. The Gitxsan also sometimes use the term Laxsee'le to describe the Frog clan.


The Gispwudwada or Gisbutwada (variously spelled) is the name for the Killerwhale "clan" (phratry) in the language of the Tsimshian nation of British Columbia, Canada, and southeast Alaska. It is considered analogous or identical to the Gisgahaast (variously spelled; also Gisk'aast) clan in British Columbia's Gitxsan nation and the Gisḵ'ahaast/Gisḵ'aast Tribe of the Nisg̱a'a. The Nisg̱a'a also call this group the Killerwhale Tribe, though the Gitxsan use the term Fireweed clan; Gisgahaast means literally "people of the fireweed."

The name Gispwudwada is of unknown etymology.

The chief crests of the Gispwudwada are the Killerwhale (a.k.a. orca) ('neexł in Tsimshian) and Grizzly Bear (midiik).

Tsimshian matrilineal houses belonging to the Gispwudwada tend to belong to one of two groups, the Git'mlaxam and the Gitnagwinaks.

Haida mythology

The Haida are one of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast of North America. Their national territories lie along the west coast of Canada and include parts of south east Alaska.


The Laxgibuu or Laxgyibuu (variously spelled) is the name for the Wolf "clan" (phratry) in the language of the Tsimshian nation of British Columbia, Canada, and southeast Alaska. It is considered analogous or identical to identically named clans among the neighboring Gitksan and Nisga'a nations.

The name Laxgibuu derives from gibuu, which means wolf in the Gitxsan and Nisga'a languages. In Tsimshian the word is gibaaw (gyibaaw or gyibaw), but Tsimshians still use the word Laxgibuu for Wolf clan.

The chief crest of the Laxgibuu is the Wolf. Other crests used by some matrilineal house-groups of the Laxgibuu include black bear.

Some Laxgibuu house-groups are related to Wolf clan groups among the Tahltan and Tlingit First Nations to the north. In the case of the Tlingit, the connection is through Tlingit Wolves who migrated south from what is now Alaska to escape inter-clan warfare and settled among the Tsimshian, Gitxsan, and Nisga'a. Descendants of some of these migrants share with their distant Tlingit relatives variants on the "Bear Mother" story which has been well recorded by anthropologists and folklorists. The Kitsumkalum Laxgibuu are one example of a Tsimshian Wolf group who own the right to tell this story.


Ligeex (variously spelled: "Legaic" etc.) is an hereditary name-title belonging to the Gispaxlo'ots tribe of the Tsimshian First Nation from the village of Lax Kw'alaams (a.k.a. Port Simpson), British Columbia, Canada. The name, and the chieftainship it represents, is passed along matrilineally within the royal house (a matrilineally defined extended family) called the House of Ligeex. The House of Ligeex belongs to the Laxsgiik (Eagle clan).

Nisqually Indian Tribe of the Nisqually Reservation

The Nisqually Indian Tribe of the Nisqually Reservation is a federally recognized tribe of Nisqually people. They are a Coast Salish people of indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Their tribe is located in Washington.

Some of the people of Nisqually descent are enrolled in the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation but neither tribe allows a Nisqually to be enrolled in both tribes at the same time.

Port Gamble Band of S'Klallam Indians

The Port Gamble S'Klallam Tribe, formerly known as the Port Gamble Indian Community of the Port Gamble Reservation or the Port Gamble Band of S'Klallam Indians is a federally recognized tribe of S'Klallam people, located on the Kitsap Peninsula in Washington. They are an Indigenous peoples of the Northwest Coast.


The Quileute , also known as the Quillayute , are a Native American people in western Washington state in the United States, currently numbering approximately 2000. The Quileute people settled onto the Quileute Indian Reservation (47°54′23″N 124°37′30″W) after signing the Quinault Treaty in 1855. It is located near the southwest corner of Clallam County, Washington at the mouth of the Quillayute River on the Pacific coast. The reservation's main population center is the community of La Push, Washington. The 2000 census reported an official resident population of 371 people on the reservation, which has a land area of 4.061 km² (1.5678 sq mi, or 1,003.4 acres).

The federally recognized Quileute tribe has its own government, which consists of an elected tribal council with staggered 3-year terms. The current tribal council consists of: Doug Woodruff (Chairman), Tony Foster (Vice-Chairman), James Jackson (Secretary), Skyler Foster (Treasurer), Zachary Jones (Member At Large).The Quileute language belongs to the Chimakuan family of languages among Northwest Coast indigenous peoples. The Quileute language is an isolate, as the only related aboriginal people to the Quileute, the Chimakum, were destroyed by Chief Seattle and the Suquamish people during the 1860s. The Quileute language is one of only six known languages lacking nasal sounds (i.e., m and n).Like many Northwest Coast natives, in pre-colonial times the Quileute relied on fishing from local rivers and the Pacific Ocean for food. They built plank houses (longhouses) to protect themselves from the harsh, wet winters west of the Cascade Mountains. The Quileute, along with the Makah, were once also whalers.

Quinault Indian Nation

The Quinault Indian Nation ( or ; QIN), formerly known as the Quinault Tribe of the Quinault Reservation, is a federally recognized tribe of Quinault, Queets, Quileute, Hoh, Chehalis, Chinook, and Cowlitz peoples. They are a Southwestern Coast Salish people of indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Their tribe is located in Washington state on the Pacific coast of the Olympic Peninsula. These peoples are also represented in other tribes in Washington and Oregon.

In July 2016, about 2,500 landowners with interests in the Quinault Reservation were offered about $59 million by the U.S. Department of Interior as part of its Native Lands Buy-Back Program as part of the settlement of the Cobell v. Salazar class-action suit. The land purchased will be put into trust for the tribe at this reservation. Among other tribes, a range of 41 to 45% of people have accepted such offers. The agency has restored about 1.5 million acres to tribes under this program.

Salish peoples

The Salish peoples are an ethno-linguistic group of the Pacific Northwest, identified by their use of the Salish languages which diversified out of Proto-Salish between 3,000 and 6,000 years ago.

The term “Salish” originated in the modern era as an exonym created for linguistic research. Salish is an Anglicization of seliš, the endonym for the Salish Tribes of the Flathead Reservation. The seliš were the easternmost Salish people and the first to have a diplomatic relationship with the United States so their name was applied broadly to all peoples speaking a related language.

Modern Salish peoples include the Nuxálk, Comox, Halkomelem, Lushootseed, Nooksack, Pentlatch, Sháshíshálh, Squamish, Klallam, Northern Straits, Twana, Cowlitz, Upper Chehalis, Lower Chehalis, Quinault, Tillamook, Shuswap, Lillooet, Thompson River Salish, Coeur d’Alene, Moses-Columbian, Colville-Okanagan, and Spokane-Kalispel-Flathead.

Samish Indian Nation

The Samish Indian Nation is a Coast Salish nation and a signatory to the Treaty of Point Elliott of 1855. Samish has a government-to-government relationship with the United States of America. The Samish are a Northern Straits branch of Central Coast Salish peoples. The Samish Nation is headquartered in Anacortes, Fidalgo Island, in Washington, north of Puget Sound.

Other Samish people are enrolled in the Lummi Nation and the Swinomish Tribe.The Washington state ferry Samish, dedicated in summer 2015, is named for the Samish Nation.

Skokomish Indian Tribe

The Skokomish Indian Tribe, formerly known as the Skokomish Indian Tribe of the Skokomish Reservation, and in its own official use the Skokomish Tribal Nation, is a federally recognized tribe of Skokomish, Twana, Klallam, and Chimakum people. They are a tribe of Southern Coast Salish indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest located in Washington. The Skokomish are one of nine bands of Twana people.

Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians of Washington

The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians of Washington , formerly known as the Stillaguamish Tribe of Washington, is a federally recognized tribe of Stillaguamish people. They are a tribe of Southern Coast Salish indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest located in Washington.Other Stillaguamish people are enrolled in the Tulalip Tribes.

Swinomish Indians of the Swinomish Reservation of Washington

The Swinomish Indian Tribal Community, also known as the Swinomish Tribe, is a federally recognized Tribe located on Puget Sound in Washington. They are an Indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest that includes the Central and Coast Salish peoples who lived in the Samish and Skagit River valleys, nearby coasts, and islands. The Tribe's population includes Swinomish, Lower Skagit, Upper Skagit, Kikiallus, and Samish peoples.


The Tulalip Tribes of Washington , formerly known as the Tulalip Tribes of the Tulalip Reservation, is a federally recognized tribe of Duwamish, Snohomish, Snoqualmie, Skagit, Suiattle, Samish, and Stillaguamish people. They are South and Central Coast Salish peoples of indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Their tribes are located in the mid-Puget Sound region of Washington.

In November 2002, John McCoy, a Tulalip leader, was elected to the Washington State legislature. For a time he served as the only Native American in the legislature, joining Jeff Morris, an Alaskan Native (Tsimpshian) who was elected in 1996 with two other Alaskan Natives, Dinno Rossi (Tlinget) and Jim Dunn (Aleut). In 2002 the Tulalip Tribes also exerted political power by allying with other tribes across the state and defeating a state Supreme Court candidate "with a long track record of opposing tribal interests." In the fall of 2016, several Native Americans across the state are running for seats in the state legislature.

Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast
Coast Salish
Other nations
Language groups

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