Kristi Walker Medina Middle School Fourth Grade Native Americans of the Pacific Northwest: Vocabulary: • Tlingit • Potlatch • Totem Pole • Clan Tlingit • The Tlingit (KLIHN kiht) are a Native American tribe who lived along the Northwest coast in a region called the Pacific Northwest. Geography • The northwest coast has a wet climate with mild winters and cool summers. • Bordered by the Pacific Ocean on the west and forest and rivers to the east. • The ocean and forests were rich in natural resources. • Because food was plentiful, the Tlingit often traded their excess with neighboring tribes in return for other goods. Potlatches • Ceremonial clothing was worn to potlatches: • Carved Masks • Potlatch Hats • Dancing Dresses • Chilkat Robes • A Potlatch is a special feast at which the guest receive gifts instead of the host. Potlatches • Potlatches were held to mark an important event such as honoring a new chief or to celebrate a wedding. • Special gifts were made or collected for every guest. • A guest’s importance determined what type of gift they were given. Important guest might have been given a canoe or fur robe. • Some potlatch celebrations lasted for many days. Tlingits at a potlatch in Sitka, Alaska on December 9, 1904 Food • Salmon was the most important food to the Tlingit. • In early spring, millions of salmon swim from the salty water of the Pacific Ocean to the freshwater rivers to lay their eggs. • The Tlingit called this event the salmon run. • A family could catch over 1,000 pounds of salmon during the salmon run. • Large portions of the fish was dried or smoked so it could be kept for future meals. Shelter • Built large plank houses from the vast forest in the area. • Often planks were cut from trees without chopping the tree down. • Several families would live together in one house during the winter. • Houses were decorated with bright, colorful pictures and designs that represented the family’s crest. Totem Poles • Huge wooden totem poles stood in front of each home. • A totem pole is a pole carved and/or painted with symbols that represent a family’s history. • Totem poles were often raised at potlatches. • Most were 40-60 feet tall but some were as tall as 100 feet. Totem Poles Family Life • The families that lived together in the same house were part of the same clan. • A clan is a group of families with a common ancestor. • Clans were established through the mother’s side of the family. • Boys were sent to live with his mother’s brother when he was 8 years old to learn how to hunt and other responsibilities. • Girls learned house traditions from their mothers and grandmothers. • Both boys and girls learned about the Tlingit and their clan’s history & customs from their elders. Technology • Tlingit did not have to spend much time “surviving” because there was an abundance of food and other resources where they lived. • This enabled them to spend time specializing in technology, or designing tools, ideas, or other ways to solve problems. • Examples of Tlingit technology are the dams they built, traps for catching salmon, and making canoes. Tlingit Fish Trap Video This is a modern day Tlingit family performing a dance similar to that of their ancestors. Notice they are wearing traditional Tlingit clothing. Focus Questions & Extended Writing • What was the • What role did purpose of a salmon fishing play in potlatch? the life of the Tlingit? • How did the Tlingit use the natural resources in their environment? • Suppose your class gave a potlatch. Write about your reasons for holding it an the activities you plan. Activity • Make a potlatch mask.