Upriver people, the people of the Plateau, started at the
top of salmon streams and paddled downstream once a year to
trade for whale oil and dried clams with the Pacific Northwest
Coastal tribes. The people of the Plateau found the
Pacific Northwest Coastal Indians most alarming, especially the whale hunters.
coastal tribes had huge plank houses, with rows of
canoes drawn up in front on the bank. It
was an imposing sight to a people who lived in
tiny independent villages.
Should it ever come to war between the inland and the coastal tribes, the
inland people were well aware that they would be greatly outnumbered,
although they kept that information to themselves of course.
The coastal tribe government was not
democratic. It was based on wealth. This was a concept totally alien to a
people who believed that cooperation and knowledge made you wealthy, not the
stockpiling of goods. The
government of each village was composed of a Council of elected men and
The coastal tribes had slaves, people captured in battle or people who owed a
debt and could not pay it. This too was an alien concept. In the
inland culture, you could not run up a debt because everything was shared.
The inland Indians had occasional
skirmishes amongst themselves, but after
peace was made, anything taken from another village was returned.
If it was not for whale oil, they
might have hidden themselves from the Pacific Northwest Coastal
But the people of the Plateau
really wanted that whale oil. It was an important food product,
used like olive oil or butter is used today. So, once a year, they worked up their courage
downstream to trade their beautifully embroidered clothes,
water-tight baskets, and soft furs for oil. In spite of their
nervousness, trading was done calmly and fairly. Still, they
were always glad to get home. The Plateau people traded
far more comfortably amongst themselves.
Travel was accomplished by canoes, snowshoes, boats, and on foot.
Canoes were shallow dugouts made from trees. Each was about 2 feet wide and 12-20 feet long. The people did not
fish from their canoes.
They used canoes for travel.
Horses: It was not until the early 1700s that
Indians from the south arrived on the Plateau. They traded
horses for furs. That was the first time the people of the
Plateau had ever seen a horse.
The arrival of
the horse changed life on the Plateau considerably.
Return to the
People of the Plateau for Kids (main index)
American Games & Activities
Stories, Myths and Legends
Native American Index
- Coast to Coast
Native Americans for Kids
Native Americans in US, Canada, and the Far North
Early people of North America (during the ice
age 40,000 years ago)
Northeast Woodland Tribes and Nations
- The Northeast Woodlands include all five great lakes as well as the Finger Lakes and the Saint Lawrence River. Come explore the 3 sisters,
longhouses, village life, the League of Nations, sacred trees, snowsnake games, wampum, the
arrowmaker, dream catchers, night messages, the game of sep and more. Special Sections:
The Lenape Indians. Read two
myths: Wise Owl and
The Invisible Warrior.
Southeast Woodland Tribes and Nations
- The Indians of the Southeast were considered members of the Woodland Indians. The
people believed in many deities, and prayed in song and dance
for guidance. Explore the darkening land, battle techniques, clans and marriage, law and order, and
more. Travel the Trail of Tears.
Indians and Cherokee
Plains Indians - What was life like in
what is now the Great Plains region of the United States? Some
tribes wandered the plains in search of foods. Others settled down and grew crops. They spoke different
was the buffalo so important? What different did horses make?
What was coup counting? Who was
Southwest Indians -
Pueblo is not the
name of a tribe. It is a Spanish word for village. The Pueblo People are the decedents of the
Navajo and the
Apache arrived in the southwest in the 1300s. They
both raided the peaceful
Pueblo tribes for food and
other goods. Who were the Devil Dancers? Why are blue stones important? What is a wickiup? Who was
Child of Water?
Pacific Coastal Northwest Indians -
What made some of the Pacific Northwest Indian tribes "rich" in ancient times? Why were woven mats so
important? How did totem poles get started? What was life like
in the longhouse? What were money blankets and coppers? How did
the fur trade work? How did
Raven Steal Crow's
Inland Plateau People - About
10,000 years ago, different tribes of Indians settled in the Northwest Inland Plateau region of the
United States and Canada, located between two huge mountain ranges - the Rockies and the Cascades. The
Plateau stretches from BC British Columbia all the way down to nearly Texas. Each village was independent, and each had a
democratic system of government. They were deeply religious and believed spirits could be found
everything - in both living and non-living things. Meet the
California Indians - The Far West was
a land of great diversity. Death Valley and Mount Whitney are the highest and lowest points in the
United States. They are within sight of each other. Tribes living in what would become California were
as different as their landscape.