The Chinook Indians wove baskets made from bear grass and carved wooden sculptures. They also hollowed out logs to create canoes that allowed them to travel up and down the river to fish, trade, hunt and wage war.
The Chinook Indians' baskets were made out of folded cedar bark and dyed with natural materials. These baskets could be made quickly in the forest and used to transport surplus food. The baskets were also dense enough to carry and boil water. The Chinook were skilled traders who encountered the Lewis and Clark expedition, establishing cordial relations with the explorers by trading baskets and jewelry. With other tribes, the Chinook traded for dentalium shells from the coast of Vancouver Island. They used these shells to create jewelry. Their trade network extended from California to the Great Plains, giving them access to resources throughout the West. The Chinook used trade to maintain control over the Columbia River.
The Chinook Indians also used nettles, cedar, rushes and willow bark to create strong ropes used for fishing, construction and clothing. They also wove hats out of spruce and cedar roots.
Traditionally, the Chinook Indians lived in longhouses made out of cedar wood with a bark roof. An entire extended family lived in one structure together.