The aboriginal peoples of the Northwest shore drew native the heavily wooded atmosphere for much of their technology. Woodworking was promoted by the diversity of easily worked species of trees, especially the huge arborvitae (Thuja plicata, also known together red cedar) and the redwood (Sequoia sempervirens). The trunks of these trees might be separation into planks or hollowed out into canoes, containers, and also other advantageous objects.

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Haida argillite carving, c. 1890, illustrating a folktale in i beg your pardon the Bear mommy endures a cesarean birth; in the national Museum the the American Indian, George Gustav Haye Centre, Smithsonian Institution, new York City.

In the Wakashan province, representative arts was frankly sculptural, impressionistic, and also bold. There was a limited amount of basic geometric architecture on such things as whalebone clubs and whaling harpoon barbs. Their coastline Salish neighbors used some, yet less, representative art, comparable if looser in style. On Puget Sound over there was tiny representative art; the abstract painted design on the canoe boards were unlike anything rather in the region. Most timeless Chinook art is stood for by simply a couple of angular figures incised on mountain sheephorn bowls. In the southernmost part of the society area, in northwestern California, art generally focused on geometric patterns incised top top elkhorn objects and also shells. (See also arts, aboriginal American.)


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totem poles
Memorial (totem) poles from various tribes stand in Stanley Park, Vancouver.

Weaving was also highly developed. The inner bark that red cedar was stripped, and also the lengthy ribbonlike strands were woven into mats and also baskets, making use of a checkerwork technique. The same material could be shredded into finely divided versatile hanks, which to be twined with each other to do a slip-on rain cape shaped favor a truncated cone. The softer inside bark of yellow cedar was made right into robes. Persons of high standing wore robes do of or edged with strips that sea otter fur and yarn make of the structure of hill goats. Salish teams near the Georgia Strait wove robes of mountain goat wool and additionally of structure from a distinct breed the shaggy dog. The Chilkat, a Tlingit group, wove robes and also basketry, using various twilling methods to fabric and also basketry alike. Your blankets bore depictions of crests in blue, yellow, black, and white.


Karok twined basket
Karok twined basket, c. 1890; in the Denver art Museum.
Courtesy of the Denver art Museum, Colorado

Twined basketry do from lengthy flexible splints separation from spruce roots illustrated great technical skill. Baskets so tightly woven as to be waterproof were made for food preparation in northern and also northwestern California; their contents were boiled by placing warm stones right into the soup or potage within the basket. Warehouse containers, receptacles for valuables big and small, and also rain hats were additionally woven. The shore Salish specialty was coiled baskets.

Dress patterns of the area were relatively simple, and, return ceremonial garments and also some hats could be very embellished, most garments was worn for security from the atmosphere rather 보다 for ostentatious display. Both women and also men customarily wore some combination of necklaces, earrings, sleep rings, bracelets, and anklets; these to be made of assorted materials, mainly shells, copper, wood, and fur. Some individuals rubbed grease and also ochre onto your skin to develop a red colour, frequently accented v black; tattooing was also practiced. Throughout the an ar women wore skirts or gowns of buckskin, soft leather, or woven wool or tree fibres. Men’s dress varied from people to tribe however was in basic quite minimal—most guys wore nothing yet ornaments on warmth days. Males of the northernmost Tlingit and also the Kitksan of the upper Skeena wore tailored buckskin breechcloths, leggings, and shirts in cold weather; somewhere else they wore robes of yellow cedar bark or pelts in cold weather and rain capes in downpours.


Edward S. Curtis—Edward S. Curtis Collection/Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. (digital. Id. Cph cph 3b00207)

Kinship and also family life

While groups in the northern province tended to be matrilineal—passing status, property, and also education v the maternal line—those in the other three districts were generally patrilineal. Marital relationships were generally arranged by parents, that openly wished to watch their children rise (or at least not fall) in status. As with up-marrying slaves, members of the center classes of a group can marry increase if lock had identified themselves in part way; the youngsters of these marriages would inherit the status of the higher-ranking spouse. If the spouse of reduced rank to be not distinguished in some way, the children would accrue the reduced status; as this was generally seen as an undesirable outcome, together matches occurred relatively rarely.

An interesting element of Northwest Coast culture was the emphasis on teaching kids etiquette, moral standards, and also other heritages of society import. Every culture has processes by which children room taught the behaviour ideal to their future roles, but often such to teach is no an overt or deliberate process. ~ above the Northwest Coast, however, particularly northward the the Columbia River, youngsters were instructed formally. This instruction began at an er when youngsters were still in their cradles or toddling, and all elder relatives, specifically grandparents, participated in it. Lessons to be often delivered gently and also humorously through the telling and also retelling that folktales; trickster story recounting Raven’s exploits were particularly entertaining, as his troubles were so clearly the an outcome of his dissolute, lazy, gluttonous, and lecherous personality (see crow cycle). Children born come high condition were offered formal instruction transparent childhood and adolescence. They had to find out not only routine etiquette but likewise the prolonged traditions whereby the rank and also privileges that their certain group to be validated, consisting of rituals, songs, and formulaic prayers.

Changes in status were generally significant by windy ceremonies. Officially rituals were taken into consideration necessary at each of 2 or three crucial stages in a person’s lifetime—birth, a girl’s attainment of puberty (there to be no boys’ puberty rites in the area), and death—because at those times the participants in this events can be particularly vulnerable or so filled through power the they could inadvertently harm others. A newborn infant was believed to be in danger of damage by superordinary beings; the infant’s parents were at the same time in danger and also potentially dangerous. Mystic creates of vulnerability and also volatility additionally accrued to girls at puberty, to the near kin of a deceased person, and also to those who prepared and also disposed the the dead. Such dangers were avoided through isolating the persons involved—either in ~ a boarded-off cubicle in the residence or in a an easy structure the end in the woods—and by limiting your diet to old dried fish and also water. At the conclusion the the isolation period, a formal purification routine was performed. The intensity of the constraints varied considerably, not only in different parts that the coast but even in ~ individual houses. Frequently the pubescent daughter that a chief, for example, was secluded for numerous months, whereas her low-ranking house sister might have come observe just a few days the confinement.

Over most of the coastline there was a very great fear that the dead. A body was usually removed from the house through some makeshift aperture other than the door and also disposed that as quickly as possible. An exception emerged in the northern province, wherein bodies of chiefs were placed in state for numerous days when clan dirges to be sung. Disposal of the dead varied. In the north province, cremation was practiced. In the Wakashan and part of the shore Salish areas, huge wooden coffins to be suspended indigenous the branches of tall trees or inserted in rock shelters. Other coastline Salish deposited your dead in canoes set up on stakes. In southwestern Oregon and also northwest California, burial in the ground to be preferred.

Religion and the performing arts

The religious beliefs of the Northwest shore shared several principles that detailed the extensive bases for miscellaneous kinds of religious activity.

One ide was the salmon were mythological beings who voluntarily suspect piscine type each year in order come sacrifice themselves for the benefit of humankind. On being caught, this spirit-beings went back to their residence beneath the sea, where they to be reincarnated if their bones or offal were went back to the water. If offended, however, they would refuse to go back to the river. Hence, there were numerous details prohibitions top top acts thought to offend them and also a number of observances designed to propitiate them, chief of which was the first-salmon ceremony. This rite varied in detail but invariably affiliated honouring the very first salmon of the main fishing season by sprinkling them through eagle down, red ochre, or some various other sacred substance, welcoming them in a official speech, cooking them, and distributing their flesh, or morsels of it, communion-fashion, to every the members the the regional group and also any guests. The maximal elaboration of this rite emerged in northwestern California in what have actually been called world-renewal ceremonies; these merged first-salmon rituals, first-fruits observances, and dances in which family tree wealth to be displayed. Elsewhere the first-salmon rituals were much less elaborate however still important, except amongst the Tlingit, who did not carry out them.

Another spiritual concept to be the salvation of an individual power by seeking individual call with a spirit-being, usually through prayer and also a vision. Among Coast Salish every success in life—whether in hunting, woodworking, accumulating wealth, military ventures, or magic—was bestowed through spirit-beings encountered in the vision quest. From these entities every person acquired songs, distinct regalia, and also dances. Collectively, the dances comprised the major ceremonials of the Northwest coastline peoples; recognized as the heart dances, they were performed during the winter months.

In the Wakashan and also northern provinces, that was thought that remote ancestors who had actually undertaken vision quests had actually been rewarded with totemic signs or crests. Displaying this hereditary crests and recounting the legacies of your acquisition formed vital part the potlatches. In the Wakashan area particular ceremonial cycles dubbed for the dramatization of the totality tale of the superordinary encounter, which in some situations included the spirit-being’s possession of and also its eventual exorcism from the seeker; together dramas were performed through dancing societies.

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Shamanism differed from various other acquisitions of superordinary power just in the nature the the strength obtained—that is, strength to cure the sick v extraction of an illness objects or recovery of a strayed spirit (see soul loss). It to be commonly thought that part shamans, or medicine men and also women, had the power to cause infirmities and to cure them. Witchcraft was supplied to kill others or to do them ill and also was thought to be lugged out by malicious persons who knew an enig rituals because that that function (see witchcraft: Witchcraft in Africa and also the world).