Pacific Northwest Coastal Native Americans - Woven Mats Illustration

Woven Mats
Pacific Northwest Coastal Native Americans
in Olden Times for Kids

Woven Mats: To define each family's living space in the longhouse, and to give them a sense of privacy, woven mats were hung from the ceiling. Mats were also used as cushions on which to sit. They were used as tablecloths, bath towels, and bed sheets.

Mats were made of cedar bark strips or from the cattail plant. In the summer, the women collected materials to make mats and dried them in the sun. In the winter, they hung long pieces side by side, and wove them together with a special mat needle carved for this purpose. They wove colored grass into these mats, in carefully designed patterns, to make their mats colorful and beautiful.

These mats could not be washed. They were not sturdy enough to survive a good scrubbing. When mats became dirty, they were simply thrown away, and new ones were made.

Mats were an important part of daily life. They provided privacy, comfort, color - they made a home, a home. They were so important that a woman's housekeeping skills were judged, in part, by the number of mats she had stacked and ready to use for whatever might come up.

We have no idea what they did to a woman who let her family's supply of mats run out, but we imagine it was not pleasant.

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