2 Rich ResourcesThe Northwest Coast cultural region has plentiful natural resources.- Its forests contained many tall, sturdy cedar trees.- The forests were rich in game for hunting.- The coastal waters and rivers were filled with fish and seals.The people of the Northwest Coast did not have to grow crops for food. They got all they needed from hunting and gathering.
3 PotlatchesWith such a wealth of resources, the tribes were able to hold potlatches.A potlatch is a party that a host holds and gives presents to its guests. There is a lot of singing, dancing, and feasting that could last for days.Potlatch comes from a Chinook (shuh NUK) word meaning “to give away.”
4 TribesThe tribes included the Kwakiutl(kwah kee OO tuhl), the Tlingit, the Haida, and the Nootka.Displaying a wealth and generosity was very important in Kwakiutl culture.Common shields and stacks of blankets were common gifts. A single guest at a potlatch might be given as many as 20 blankets.
5 The Natural Resource- Wood The totem pole, a carved post with animals or other images representing a person’s ancestors, was another way to show wealth.Some totem poles were as tall as a four-story building and they proudly displayed their totem poles.
6 Also, a carver would use a single cedar log to make a dugout canoe Also, a carver would use a single cedar log to make a dugout canoe. The Kwakiutl used such canoes to hunt at sea. They would hunt seals, sea otters, and even whales.Such prey provided meat for food, furs for clothing, and oil for lamps and heating.
7 HomesThe forests’ cedar trees supplied the Kwakiutl with sturdy housing.Logs provided the upright posts for a house and its roof beams.Planks cut from logs formed the walls and roof.
8 ClothingThanks to a mild coastal climate, the Kwakiutl could often wear light clothing.Kwakiutl women wove cedar bark into a fabric. Then, they made it into skirts for themselves and long shirts for the men.The Kwakiutl also wore clothing made of buckskin, taken from deer.In colder weather, they put on animal furs.
9 ShamanA shaman was a person people came to when they were not feeling well. They believed the shaman could cure them. Both men and women could be shamans.Kwakiutl shamans sometimes performed dancing ceremonies. They wore carved masks. As they danced, they could change their appearance by opening or closing parts of the masks.
11 Customs and Traditions During these Shaman dances, special effects often made the dances more exciting.Hidden performers made wooden birds swoop down on the audience.At the end, a dancer might vanish in a puff of smoke.Because food was plentiful, the Kwakiutl had plenty of time to create beautiful objects- masks, rattles, and serving dishes were carved from wood and decorated with paint.The objects reflected the Kwakiutls’ respect for the spirits they felt around them.
12 The Kwakiutl TodayToday, only about 4,000 Kwakiutl Native Americans survive.The forests and the sea remain important in their lives.Most of the men work in logging, construction, or fishing.Powerboats have replaced their cedar canoes.Newer building methods have replaced traditional cedar houses.Both medical doctors and shamans serve the people.The Kwakiutl still give potlatches today.