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Northwest Coastal People
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Environment / Housing Food / Hunting / Tools Religion / Ceremonies / Art / Clothing Family / Social Structure / Leadership Tribal Relations / War
The Northwest Coastal People lived on the west coast of Canada,
occupying the western shore and the islands of British Columbia, and reaching up into the Yukon.
Transportation

Coast of Haida Gwaii, Queen Charlotte Islands
  • The people living on the Northwest Coast became quite skilled at navigating the area's waterways.
  • Since they relied so heavily on the Pacific Ocean, and lakes and rivers for their survival, they needed to build strong canoes that they could use for traveling.
Canoes
Cedar trees
  • The canoes of the Northwest Coast people were carved out of large cedar trees. Cedar trees in British Columbia could get up to 80 feet tall, with very few branches. This made the trees ideal for cutting and carving a large canoe.
  • The canoes were large and particularly long, some were up to 50 feet long and 8 feet wide.
  • Each canoe could hold up between 2 and 50 people and 10,000 pounds of cargo (like fish) at one time.
  • They also had smaller boats for single families, or shorter day outings.
  • Canoes were used to travel to events, like potlatches, to fish, and in warfare.

Kwakwakw'wakw Canoe

Traveling to a potlatch
Making a Canoe
Haida man carving a canoe
  • They had to cut down the cedar tree
  • Then split the log in half, without cracking it
  • They burned and scraped out the middle
  • Then filled the hole with water
  • They put hot rocks in the water, which made the water boil, softening the wood for carving
Seasonal Migration / Adaptation

Haida settlement
  • All the people lived near the water, either the Pacific Ocean or an inland river or lake, and relied heavily on water for their survival.
  • Temperatures were moderate, which allowed the people to fish all year.
  • Due to the fact that the people of the Northwest Coast had access to food year-round, the Northwest Coastal People did not migrate or move. They lived sedentary lives in permanent houses and settlements.
  • In summer the coastal people moved to temporary camps near the fishing grounds, but always returned to their villages for the winter.
Groups in
this Region
Environment / Housing Food / Hunting / Tools Religion / Ceremonies / Art / Clothing Family / Social Structure / Leadership Tribal Relations / War
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