Plateau Indians in Olden Times
The Plateau area of the United States includes all or part of the non-coastal regions of the modern US States of Washington, Oregon, parts of California and Montana, and the Canadian province of British Columbia. This region extends from the Cascade Mountains east to the Rocky Mountains. Two major river systems, each with many tributaries, run though the Plateau area – the Columbia and the Fraser. The climate varies from cold, wet and forested in the north to cold, dry, and desert-like in the south.
People have lived in the Plateau region for at least 10,000 years. The Plateau offered everything the people needed for thousands of year. They had fresh water, lots of game and fish, and wild berries and nuts and vegetables. They learned to use medicinal plants. They used reeds and hide to make clothes and build homes. Life was good. There were some changes of course. About 4,000 years ago, grinding tools were invented. The bow and arrow was invented in 500 BCE. But mostly, the basic lifestyle remained similar for 10,000 years. (It was not until the introduction of the horse in the early 1700s that change really began.)
The climate dictated much of the culture. The people were semi-nomadic because of their food gathering activities. They gathered salmon and veggies in the summer and hunted game in the fall. They collected roots, berries, and nuts. They had permanent winter quarters, but semi-permanent and temporary summer quarters. They stored food for the cold winter months.