Northwest Native Americans By Judith Pinsky, Ella King, and Gaby Germanos Houses • The Native Americans lived in large, peakedroof houses called plank houses. They were big houses with small entryways. The only furniture they had were storage boxes, baskets, and backrests. Cooking • Inside, there is a large cooking area that covers more than a quarter of the floor. It is at least a foot into the ground. Each member of the family has their own fire pit in this big cooking area. Over this area are roof boards pushed open to allow smoke to escape. Walls and Roofs • Next to the roof boards, there were skin bags with fish oil hung from the rafters. There were also stairlike platforms connected to the wall. Sleeping • On the top platform, each family member had their own sleeping area. Mats or screens separated one sleeping area from another. They slept on mats of cedar bark and fur. Family Culture • Family was a very important part of the Native American culture. Each child was taught hard work, family honor, and peacefulness. They were toughened by cold swims and night runs through rain storms. Children • When they hit puberty, the girls learned household tasks like cooking and weaving. The boys learned how to hunt, perform ceremonies, and assist elders. When the boys became men, if they were wealthy, they could have several wives. Toys • One thing that both men and women could do was to make toys. These toys included rattles, whistles, dolls, and spinning tops made of bone and ivory. Food • The Native Americans ate many different foods. These included whales, salmon, halibut, cod, herring, elk, deer, mink, marten, otter, shellfish, roots, berries, bulbs, ducks, seals, sea lions, dogfish, black bears, acorns, rabbits, quail, flounder, candlefish, smelt, sturgeon, and basking shark’s liver oil. More on Food • They also ate caribou which was a treat because it was very rare to find in their area. They obtained their food by trapping, harpooning, netting, and fishing. Arts and Crafts • Since they were master woodcarvers and weavers, they made many things to hold their food. For example, they used woven wooden baskets as fish traps, trays, and seed beaters. They used the finer baskets for cooking pots. Clothing The Caddo Indians used animals for their clothing. Clothes were made out of sea otter and other furs or woven from cedar bark. Tools • Almost every tool was made of wood from the redwoods, pines, and Douglas fir trees in the area. Others were made of stone and iron. More on Tools • Their main tools were stone hammers, sharp stone chisels, D-adze, elbow adze, stone mauls, drills, harpoons, salmon hooks, halibut hooks,spears and black cod hooks. Beliefs • Everyone believes in something. The Native Americans? They believed in the Sky God, ruler of the heavens, and the Serpent God, king of the underworld. Sky God • The Sky God ruled over many spirits all around the worlds above. One of the spirits that the Sky God ruled over was the supernatural ocean beings disguised as fish and sea mammals. Serpent God • The Serpent God rules over evil spirits, like the Trickster Coyote. The Great Spirit Madumda is Trickster Coyote’s brother. Raven Spirit • The Native Americans believed that Raven Spirit found the first people in a clamshell. That’s why you usually see him and his grandfather on totem poles. Trading • When the Europeans came, they had a lot to trade with the Native Americans, such as blankets, metal tools, food and clothing for dogfish oil from the Native Americans. Dogfish oil was used for lubricating sawmill machinery and lamps. More About Trading • Among themselves, the Native Americans traded crafts and boats for chillkat blankets made of goat wool. Candlefish • Candle fish could be used for many things. They were so oily that if you stuck wick through them, they could be used as a candle! Candlefish were also used for medicine, cooking and seasoning. Some other valuables were yellow, pink and red polished magnetite beads.