What Was the Food of the Kwakiutl?

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The Kwakiutl people were a tribe of Native American hunters and gatherers who lived primarily off of seafood and wild plants. They lived in the coastal regions of the Pacific Northwest.

The Kwakiutl’s location along the coastline allowed them to utilize the ocean as a constant food source. They commonly trapped fish such as salmon and herring. Salmon was able to be caught in abundance during the spawning season due to exhaustion caused by swimming upstream. Other sea life such as seals and whales were caught and used as food, as was shellfish. The Kwakiutl used harpoons when hunting large marine mammals and a wide variety of devices to trap land and sea animals. Seabirds and their eggs were also collected as a food source. The Kwakiutl supplemented their fishing skills by foraging for berries and other edible vegetation on land, as well as hunting game such as moose and rabbits.

When resources in a specific region became scarce or it was an off season, the Kwakiutl tribe would relocate to another area to forage for resources. They commonly practiced preservation techniques such as drying fish and other meats to create a surplus of food if fresh resources were unavailable. Furs collected from otters, seals and other large game were used to trade with other tribes or visitors.