Up until now, we have concentrated on the Lakota

Up until now, we have
concentrated on the Lakota
• Who lived on the plains, hunted bison
and lived in tepees
• What else can you remember about
The North-west coast
Native Americans
The Tlingit
What was the country like?
• The north west coast of America has
a lot of rainfall and mild weather.
• The Native Americans of this area
lived very close to nature and
believed strongly in spirits.
• They lived on a very narrow band of
land between the sea and the
• There were huge forests lining the
hills and this provided lots of good
wood which the Native Americans
used for many things.
• In the summer months they would
live near their fishing grounds fishing
for salmon and other types of fish.
• For the rest of the year they lived in
large, wooden houses in small
A Tlingit Village
similarities and
• White people described Native
Americans as living in tribes but they
thought of themselves as being part of
different nations.
• Each nation spoke a different language.
• The main North West coast nations
were: Tlingit, Haida, Tsimshian, Bella
Coola, Nootka, Kwakiutl and Salish.
Long house
and totem
About the long house
• As there were forests along the Pacific
coast, these long house are built with a
log or split log frame and covered with
split log planks, and sometimes an
additional bark cover.
• Cedar is the preferred resource.
• The length of these long houses is usually
18–30 m)
• The wealthy built extraordinarily large
• Usually there is one doorway that faces
the shore.
• Each long house was divided into
sections off the central hallway, each with
its own individual fire.
• Usually an extended family occupied one
long house, and co-operated in obtaining
food, building canoes, and other daily
About the long house
• The roof is a slanted shed roof.
• The front is often very elaborately decorated
with an integrated mural of numerous
drawings of faces and totemic or crest icons
of raven, bear, whale, etc.
• A totem pole is always accompanied with a
long house, though the style varies greatly,
and sometimes is even used as part of the
entrance way.
• Long houses had enough room to fit up to 50
• People live in towns with wood buildings.
• Some houses were painted and shaped like
this one.
• The houses had a hole in the roof to let
smoke out, no windows and no rooms but
partitioned sleeping and storage areas
• Large items like fishing gear and paddles
were stored in the rafters.
Around the House
• Inside, the floor was dug down so the sides of the
house could hold two or more levels of benches, a
platform where people sat and a higher one divided by
wooden partitions into sleeping compartments.
• On the beach in front of the house were canoes,
sheds for smoking fish, drying racks, and work areas.
• At the rear of each house, before or inside its secluded
storeroom holding sacred treasures, lived the
members of the nobility who owned that house.
• Along the sides of the house where they lived, families
kept their own open fires for cooking and heating.
• In the middle, however, was a large public hearth used
to cook meals for the noble owners or for guests
attending a celebration.
The Cedar tree
• Just as the plains native
Americans used every bit of
the bison, so the Tlingit used
the cedar tree in many ways
• With the wood of the Western
Red Cedar the Native
Americans made boxes and
canoes. The boxes were
called bent wood boxes
because the wood was bent
into a box shape and it was
sealed off at only one corner.
The Cedar Tree
• Clothing :The clothing the
Native Americans used that were
made out of Western Red Cedar.
• They had winter clothes made of
shredded and oiled cedar bark.
• They made skirts from strands of
Cedar bark for the women.
• They also made cone like hats
that were woven from Cedar
bark and they sometimes had
little knobs on the top.
The Cedar tree
• Canoes were dug out and filled with water
and hot rocks. The water would get hot and
they could shape the canoe. They had three
different types of canoes, the High prow,
Image, and the utility canoe. The utility canoe
was not bent outwards it was just a dugout
log that was used by the women to collect
The Cedar Tree
• Rope: was made with the inner bark
of the Western Red Cedar. The rope
was made up of two or three strands
of softened inner bark. One strand
would twist one way; the other would
twist the other way. Rope was made
in many different lengths and widths.
• Baskets :The Native Americans
made baskets out of the Western Red
Cedar. They braided the strands of
the bark together to make them. It
was used in baskets combined with
other things like Cedar roots and
Spruce roots. The baskets were not
The Cedar Tree
• Matting : Mats were made from
the inner bark of the Red Cedar.
• They would use a lot of different
lengths and widths of bark,
depending on what they were
going to use the mat for.
• Cedar was placed on a frame
and woven to make the different
patterns that they might have
wanted or used.
Family life
• A man had to buy his wife from her
• He would move in with her family, as
clanship was passed down through the
• There he would contribute to her
household, by working for them. If he
was acceptable, then they would marry
• If she was a noble’s daughter then he
might receive valuable things like fishing
grounds from her parents.
Family life
• Once married they each had different jobs to
• The man did the fishing and the hunting.
• He also did things like carpentry or making any
tools that were needed.
• Women collected firewood, gathered fruit and
vegetables, prepared the food for the family to
eat and made clothes for everybody.
• During childhood, children learned the things
they would need to know when they got older.
• But it was not the father who taught the
children, but their mother’s brother, their uncle.
Just checking
• What part of North America did the
Tlingit live in?
• What was it like there?
• How did they get a living?
• Which way did the house face?
• What material did they make a lot of use
• If you were a Tlingit, what family were
you a member of?
• The north west coast of America was very
mountainous, wet and full of forests.
• As a result the Native Americans of this area
did not farm the land.
• They could live without farming because there
were lots of other food supplies mainly fish.
• Salmon, whales, seals and other fish existed
in great numbers.
• These could be used with the berries and
roots which the women would gather.
• In order to catch their fish the Native Americans had
many methods.
• Spearing, clubbing, netting and lines and hooks were
all used.
• They would often narrow the rivers with logs to make
pools where it was easier to catch the fish.
• To make the food last the Native Americans dried and
smoked the fish.
• They fished from canoes which were tree trunks they
had hollowed out with tools they had made.
• Traditionally they hunted and trapped animals like
goats and deer and used canoes to hunt seals, sea
lions and otters.
Tlingit Clothes
• Ceremonial dress includes
carved masks, weapons and
"Chilikat" blankets.
• Some robes are fringed, furtrimmed, and multicoloured.
• The designs on clothing depict
animals significant to the
family and town.
• The Tlinglit use to wear hats
made of roots.
• Men and women wore ear and
nose rings.
• Some had tattoos and disks
pierced through their lower lip
• The basic unit of Tlingit society was the
household, a "house" (in the same sense as
the House of David or House of Windsor) that
was a home with three resident social classes
of nobles, commoners, and slaves.
• Their eldest man was the leader of the
household, but his mother and sisters provided
the links among all the members.
• Along the sides lived families of commoners
who attached themselves to that house as kin
or labour.
• Beside the oval front door slept slaves, taken
in war or the children of such captives, whose
lives belonged to their owner, along with all
their efforts.
Totem Poles
• The most important
things for the Tlingit
were their family, their
status (how important
they were), their
lineage (all their
ancestors), their clan
(all their relatives) and
their moiety (their
social group – Raven,
Wolf, Eagle or Killer
• An Native American’s
moiety was very
important because
there were strict rules
to obey.
Totem Poles
• For example, a Raven could not marry another
• People of the same moiety were expected to offer
each other help and hospitality.
• North West coast Native Americans carved huge
totem poles from the trunks of cedar trees to display
their family status and history (a bit like coats of arms
in medieval Europe).
• By looking at a totem pole you can see the family’s
moiety, important events in the family’s history (e.g.
any marriages or potlatches), any spirits who have
helped the family and any myths (stories) about
those spirits that are important to the family – North
West Coast Native Americans loved telling stories.
Totem Poles
• The top figure on a Pole is usually the Clan Crest.
• The most common Crests are the Eagle, Raven,
Thunderbird, Bear, Beaver, Orca and Frog.
• Eagles and Thunderbirds have curved beaks, while
the Raven has a straight beak.
• Thunderbirds have outspread wings.
• Bears and Beavers have ears on the top of their
heads, and Beavers also have large teeth.
• The Orca ('killer whale') has a dorsal fin.
• The figures under the Crest represent figures in a
• The story may be a myth or legend, or it may be a
story from the life of a person in the tribe.
There were 5 kinds of Totem Poles
• Indoor House Posts, which support the roof
and carry Clan Emblems;
• House frontal Poles, which stand by the
entrance of the house;
• Heraldic Poles, which stand in the front of
the house and give the family history;
• Burial Poles, which carry a story about the
• Ridicule Poles, which were sometimes
erected to shame debtors;
• North West Coast Native Americans were not
all equal. Some were nobles, some were
commoners and some were slaves. Nobles
were the most important and they liked others
to know it. They would hold potlatches – big
parties at which they would give away
presents to show how important they were.
• Slaves were Native Americans who might
have been captured in battle or even
kidnapped from other tribes. They did all the
hard work and boring jobs like cleaning or
paddling the canoes. Commoners could
become rich by trading with the Whites and
they, too, might hold potlatches but they
couldn’t become nobles.
• There was a chief of each family group
within the village. Sometimes one chief
became more important by his
personality but he had to continue to
prove himself otherwise his people might
give their loyalty to someone else.
• The Europeans found this very
confusing, as they might do deals with
the person they thought was the village
chief, only to find he had fallen out of
• The Native Americans’ survival depended on there being plentiful
food so hunting and fishing were very important.
• These Native Americans believed the animals lived to provide
food for them.
• But each animal had a spirit and the Native Americans had to
keep in with these spirits.
• So they would often make sacrifices and perform religious acts to
thank the spirits.
• When they caught their first salmon they celebrated with
speeches thanking the salmon!
• All the bones of the fish they ate were returned to the sea
because they believed that if they fed them to their dogs then the
spirits would be offended and the fish wouldn’t return next year.
• Native Americans only killed animals for food – never for pleasure
like some white men.
• Native Americans believed that there were spirits everywhere – in
the sea, in the trees, in the sky – and all had to be praised to
keep them happy.
• The Native Americans also placed great
importance on the shaman.
• These were what we sometimes call witch
doctors but were men or women who they
believed had special powers.
• They could make contact with the spirits and
help heal the sick.
• Some of their methods seem far-fetched like
singing and dancing to drive away evil spirits
but they were also good at making potions –
medicines from plants etc – which did
sometimes work.
• What others thought of you mattered to the Native
Americans of the north west coast. It was important
that others thought well of you.
• To make sure people continued thinking well of you
the Native Americans would hold a potlatch.
• This was like a big party when people would
• A potlatch might be held to celebrate a marriage, a
boy reaching puberty, a great battle, a new totem
pole, a new house etc.
• But it was important for the host (the person holding
the potlatch) to give presents to his guests. This
would show how important he was.
• At a potlatch, the host would give away things like
blankets, baskets, furs and chests. It was necessary
for him to get hold of these in the first place so trade
(the buying and selling of goods) became important.
• When the White man arrived he wanted furs and fish
and often paid the Native Americans to get them for
him and so trade became even more important and
potlatches became even bigger. They sometimes
lasted for days. Firstly, people would eat a huge feast.
After the feast the chief would tell stories of the great
things done by his ancestors and by himself. All his
family and friends witnessed this. Then, finally, he
gave out the gifts starting by giving them to the most
important guests.
Why the Raven is black
Another story told by Native
Why the Raven is black
• Long ago, when animals talked near the beginning of
the world, Gray Eagle was the guardian of the sun and
moon and stars, of fresh water, and of fire.
• Gray Eagle hated people so much that he kept these
things hidden.
• People lived in darkness, without fire and without fresh
• Gray Eagle had a beautiful daughter, and Raven fell in
love with her. At that time Raven was a handsome
young man.
• He changed himself into a snow-white bird, and as a
snow-white bird he pleased Gray Eagle's daughter.
She invited him to her father's lodge.
• When Raven saw the sun and the moon and the stars
and fresh water hanging on the sides of Eagle's lodge,
he knew what he had to do.
Why the Raven is black
• He waited for his chance to seize them when no one
was watching.
• He stole all of them, and a brand of fire also, and he
flew out of the lodge though the smoke hole.
• As soon as Raven got outside, he hung the sun up in
the sky.
• It made so much light that he was able to fly far out to
an island in the middle of the ocean.
• When the sun set, he fastened the moon up in the sky
and hung the stars around in different places.
• By this new light he kept on flying, carrying with him
the fresh water and the brand of fire he had stolen.
Why the Raven is black
• He flew back over land.
• When he had reached the right place, he
dropped all the water he had stolen.
• It fell to the ground and there became
the source of all the fresh-water streams
and lakes in the world.
• Then Raven flew on, holding the brand
of fire in his bill.
• The smoke from the fire blew back over
his white feathers and make them black.
Why the Raven is black
• He flew back over land.
• When he had reached the right place, he dropped all
the water he had stolen.
• It fell to the ground and there became the source of all
the fresh-water streams and lakes in the world.
• Then Raven flew on, holding the brand of fire in his
• The smoke from the fire blew back over his white
feathers and make them black.
• When his bill began to burn, he had to drop the
• It struck the rocks and went into the rocks.
• That is why, if you strike two stones together, fire will
drop out.
• Raven's feathers never became white again after they
were blackened by the smoke from the firebrand.
• That is why Raven is now a black bird.
Make your own totem pole
• BEAVER Industrious. Resourceful. Creative. Determined.
• BEAR Strength. Introspection. Learned humility. Motherhood &
• BUMBLEBEE Honesty & pure thinking. Willingness & drive.
• DOGFISH Persistence & strength. Innate leadership.
• EAGLE Honour. Power. Leadership. Wisdom. The eagle flies
high above the world, possessing a broad perspective of it all.
• EAGLE FEATHER Honouring. Respect. Strength.
• FROG Transformation. Duality. Frogs occupy both land and
water, travelling between the two worlds. They communicate with
beings from both, and serve as mediators.
• HALIBUT Strength & stability
• HAWK A messenger, often from the spirit world and the
ancestors. Strength.
• HERON Patience. Grace.
• HUMMINGBIRD Agility. Love. Beauty. Among the more northern
nations, the Hummingbird is seen as a messenger. If he appears
during a time of great sorrow or pain, healing will soon follow. He
also symbolizes the fragility of nature and all living things.
Make your own totem pole
KILLER WHALE Beauty and power. Traveller & guardian. The Haida
believe that killerwhales are human counterparts who have their own
complex societies beneath the sea. Among the KwakwakaÕwakw,
killerwhales are thought to be ancestors reincarnated.
LOON Peace. Tranquility. Generosity.
MOON Protector. Guardian.
RAVEN A universal cultural hero on the Northwest Coast. Raven is the
Trickster, the Transformer. He is associated with Creation. According to
some stories, Raven brought light to the world, placing the sun, moon,
and stars in the sky.
SALMON Dependability & Renewal. A Provider.
SUN Provides the earth with healing energy and life. According to some
oral traditions, Raven tossed the Sun into the sky, where it remains
today. For other communities, their first human ancestors transformed
from the sun.
THUNDERBIRD Power. Strength. Leadership. The Thunderbird lives
high in the mountains. According to some traditions, Thunderbird causes
thunder when he flies or ruffles his feathers. When he blinks his eyes, he
causes lightning. He is so huge, he can easily pick up a Killerwhale in
each talon.
WOLF Represents intelligence and leadership. Wolf is a pathfinder, the
forerunner of new ideas, and a patient teacher.