Kwakiutl Indians

Topics: Kwakwaka'wakw, Northwest Coast art, Kwakwaka'wakw mythology Pages: 6 (2339 words) Published: October 14, 2012
The Northwest Coastal Indians, Kwakiutl, lived in what is now Alaska along the Pacific Ocean down the coast to Northern California. The environment was very diverse and often extreme which included a rugged strip of land with small islands, deep inlets, inland rivers and lakes, deep fjords, and wide and narrow beaches. Mountains rise to the shore in many places. Spruce, cedar, and fir forests dominated the area supplying endless amounts of wood. All the people lived near the water and relied heavily on the water for survival. Temperatures were moderate, which allowed the people to fish all year. There was access to the Pacific Ocean for fishing and collecting food like clams and shellfish. Salmon was the most important food. The Kwakiutl tribe was very intelligent people who were able to develop a strong and dependent society by creating multiple uses of the dense woods, coastal rivers, and the ocean. Their adaptive strategy used in the northwest pacific surrounding was so unique and complex that the tribe could function systematically on their own. From the abundant supply of food from the waters around them, agriculture was not necessary to them in this area, even though the dense wild life had plenty of vegetation to offer from the nuts and berries to hunting animals for their hide. However, they did not hunt to stock up on food but more for the warm useful hides of the animals to have more clothing through the year. However, they were able to create other useful clothing out of cedar bark. There was many things made from the cedar bark such as woven baskets, shirts, everyday skirts for the women, the cedar tree was a big part of this culture. The items that they held prize possession to were items that were hand crafted and designed by the people. These extraordinary art crafts are highly decorative and in this present day pieces of the Kwakiutl culture have been left behind and put in museums to be looked at by people.

The Kwakiutl were a fascinating tribe they had enormous amounts of information about their surrounding environment. They were very sophisticated in the caste system with who does what and the tools made by the people to have create the artifacts they did is showing high amounts of intelligence from the people. In order for the people to carve or design art pieces they need tools. The tools that were used to do the carvings to make a totem pole, canoe, or home they needed sharp items to be able to carve the wood. They used bones from caught killed animals and other sea mammals. The bones or stone was filed down to have the sharp edge to carve the wood, scrape the hide, or crafting the canoes. This technique was very similar to others using bones for the tools needed to make their sacred belongings. They were able to use this technique because of the surplus they had with shellfish, and other shelled seafood. It’s proven they ate tremendous amounts of shellfish because of the mounds of shells they left behind. They also ate huge amounts of salmon, and because they ate so much they would have a revivication ceremony to give respect to the salmon for its life. The salmon was respected by the northwest peoples as the plains Indians respected the buffalo for its hide. These people were very independent and had structured religious beliefs that caused for a sacrifice to the gods for the abundant supply of goods given to them. The Kwakiutl tribe had many beliefs that animals represent certain gods and these were the animals or birds that were carved in to the totem poles or, canoes. These tribes give a lot of insight on how our organic environment can be better used and treated. The Kwakiutl tribe put their surroundings to the best use by having homes, clothes, transportation, and food. By them being so structured they were able to live to give back to their people. Men mostly did the activities out side of the house. They did the hunting, trapping, fishing, and building of things. While the men were doing...
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