What Are Some Northwest Coast Indian Tribes?


Quick Answer

Some Northwest Coast Indian tribes are the Bella Coola, Makah, Nez Perce, Spokane and Tlingit tribes. The Bella Coola tribe occupied a portion of the central British Columbian coast and spoke the Nuxalk language. They were one of the first tribes to assign significance to the totem pole.

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Full Answer

The Makah inhabited the northwestern tip of the Olympic peninsula and hunted sea mammals, particularly gray and humpback whales and seals. The Nez Perce occupied areas of Washington, Oregon and Idaho along the Snake and Salmon Rivers. They were skilled in hunting, fishing and agriculture.

The Indian tribes along the Northwest Coast were a loose confederation that shared a common language and ancestry. They benefited from an environment that featured a mild climate and abundance of natural resources. Their diet consisted of fish, potatoes, greens and berries. An abundance of red cedar allowed them to build sturdy plank houses and canoes crafted from hollowed-out logs, which could hold 20 men and 10,000 pounds of fish.

Northwest Coastal tribes engaged in extensive commercial fishing and actively traded with other tribes. Their homeland extended from the western Oregon coast through British Columbia, into Alaska, and inland along the Columbia and Snake Rivers as far west as the Rockies. This geographic positioning left them safe from attack on three sides and enabled them to live in relative peace and security for many years.

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