Table of Contents
This discussion takes a deeper look at the Nootka people and the Kwakiutl people. The Nootka people believed in the existence of supernatural forces. They therefore practiced different rituals which they believed helped them to control these forces. Unlike other tribes in this region, they did not believe in gods but rather in a number of spirits (Moss, 1998). Men were believed to acquire supernatural powers by undertaking missions that brought them face to face with the spirits. After this encounter, the spirits became allies and helpers to men. The Nootka people were mainly fishermen (Ascher, 1974). The most successful fishermen practiced whale fishing.
The community also practiced hunting. Women were involved in weaving different items such as mats and hats. The traditional healers among the Nootka people were referred to as the Shamans (Moss, 1998). They were believed to have special supernatural powers which enabled them to cure the sick. The Nootka people performed various ceremonies including the dancing ceremonies. These ceremonies were considered to be very important especially because they were used to mark important occasions such as successful trades, agreements between people, among others (Goldenweiser, 1940). The Nootka practiced a tremendous amount of art. They curved canoes which were mainly used for whale hunting. They also painted their faces especially on special occasions. They also believed in marriage. Young men took wives from among the community and they became part of the paternal family. The Nootka also believed in death and afterlife (Goldenweiser, 1940). They buried their dead very far from their area of residence as they had a great amount of fear for the dead.
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The Kwakiutl people like the Nootka lived in traditional villages close to the sea. Their houses were mainly made from cedar and planks. Their food was mainly comprised of sea food including the salmon, halibut, among other marine fish. They also hunted the mountain deer and goats. The Kwakiutl made harpoons and rakes which they used to hunt whales, sea lions and seals. The men in the community were involved in woodwork producing items such as spoons, boxes, mortars and pestles (Erlandson, & Moss, 1999). The women on the other hand did weaving with the use of fibers. They produced items such as hats, mats, among other items. The Kwakiutl engaged in trade with other tribes selling items such as oil and hoes in exchange for other goods (Moss, 1998). As a typical coastal community, the Kwakiutl used canoes to move from one place to the other. In regard to their clothing, the Kwakiutl women wore aprons made from cedar bark during the warm weather while the men walked naked (Erlandson, & Moss, 1999). The Kwakiutl also practiced marriage and believed that it was a way of ensuring that the continued to exist. They had a rich culture which was comprised of various rituals and ceremonies. The Kwakiutl women practiced some horticulture.
The two tribes practiced fishing and hunting. They also practiced art which involved curving and weaving. While the Kwakiutl had a more advanced technology in terms of the production of tools such as harpoons and fishing nets, the Nootka only produced nets for fishing (Moss, 1998). The Nootka believed in supernatural beings while the Kwakiutl believed in the existence of gods. The two tribes practiced marriage between men and women. Some of the archeological evidence that supports the existence of these practices includes harpoons of 1-4 barbs discovered in the Chuck Lake. This supports that the Kwakiutl were hunters of sea mammals (Moss, 1998). The discovery of whale bones in the North Coast away also shows that the Nootka were fishers of the whales. The copper and incised tablets made of stone from the late period discovered in Alaska also show that the Kwakiutl art actually existed (Erlandson, & Moss, 1999). The fauna assemblage of fish bones, dog bones and other marine mammals as discovered in the Hidden Falls Component in the North Coast also shows that there was a tremendous amount of fishing during the middle period.
Environment had a huge influence on the development of the people of Oregon. The Shasta people lived in the mountainous regions of Oregon. The Shasta people lived in the mountainous areas which were greatly endowed with a variety of wild animals. They lived in small settlements comprised of a few houses each (Cordell, & McBrinn, 2016). The Shasta people were mainly hunters and fish gatherers. The mountainous landscapes within which the Shasta lived in had freshwater rivers and streams. The major sources of food for the Shasta were trout, salmons, and freshwater mussels. They also went out to hunt deer, squirrels, rabbits, and bears. From the forests, they collected berries, nuts, sunflower seeds and the tarweeds seeds which was also their food (Rust, 1905). During summer when there was an abundant amount of salmons in the rivers, the Shasta people engaged in riverine fishing. During fall, they gathered food from the forests. In winter, they hunted the deer and elks through the snow. During winter, it was mainly cold. The Shasta wore warm clothes made from deer skins (Cordell, & McBrinn, 2016). Since the Shasta were a hunting and gathering community, they lived in small family units. Each group had its own hunting territory and this helped to reduce conflict on hunting grounds. An archaeological site along the Applegate River shows the existence of 80 spear points. They are estimated to be about 8,000 to 10,000 years old (Cordell, & McBrinn, 2016). These spears have been seen to have large blades and large stems which is an indication that these people were indeed hunters and gatherers.
The Cayuse people lived in the plateaus. Their territory ran from the Northeast to the Southeast of Oregon. The region which they occupied was covered by fast flowing rivers, lakes, forests and the prairies. The weather as generally comprised of warm summers and very cold and snowy winters. They were mainly fishermen in the fresh water lakes and rivers, hunters and gatherers. Their main sources of food were fishes such as the trout, and salmons. They hunted for deer, coyote, elks, mountain goats and groundhogs. They also collected berries, bulbs, nuts and other foods from the forests. The Cayuse people were generally semi nomadic. They lived in structures that were easy to take down when there was need to move. During winter, they lived in pit house below the ground while in summers they dwelled in mat lodge houses that were covered with animal skins. Archaeological studies have made it possible to collect stone bowl mortars and pestles have also been discovered in the plateaus along the rivers. They are estimated to be between 8000 and 4000 BP. They could probably have been used in the preparation of the nuts and other foods collected in the grasslands.
The Kathlamet people lived on the Northwest coast of the Pacific. The areas within which they occupied were covered with tall dense forests, the Pacific Ocean, mountains and rivers. They were mainly hunters, fishermen and gatherers. The main sources of their food were the mountain goats, beavers, bears, elks and moose (Cordell, & McBrinn, 2016). They caught fishes such as the Salmon, shellfish and sturgeon. They also collected foods such as the roots, berries and nuts. Given that they lived in a mountainous area with plenty of cedar, they made houses from cedar trees (Cordell, & McBrinn, 2016). They also used tattoos to decorate their bodies. They had a peculiar appearance and were usually referred to as the flatheads. Carbonized fragments of hazelnuts were excavated at different levels of 13 feet, 10 feet and 3 feet (Cordell, & McBrinn, 2016). They were dated between 5850 and 2810 BP. Together with the deposits were also dear sized bones which are an indication of the type of foods that was consumed by the ancient Kathlamet people.
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- Cordell, L. S., & McBrinn, M. (2016). Archaeology of the Southwest. Routledge.
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- Goldenweiser, A. (1940). Culture of the Indian tribes of the Pacific northwest. Oregon Historical Quarterly, 41(2), 137-146.
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- Rust, H. N. (1905). The obsidian blades of California. American Anthropologist, 7(4), 688-695.