Native American Indians

SS4H1 The student will describe how early Native American cultures developed in North America.
  • a. Locate where Native Americans settled with emphasis on the Arctic (Inuit), Northwest (Kwakiutl), Plateau (Nez Perce), Southwest (Hopi), Plains (Pawnee), and Southeast (Seminole).
  • b. Describe how Native Americans used their environment to obtain food, clothing, and shelter.
The Kwakiutl indians are a tribe that live in Great Britain present, whose culture is known from its totem poles and masks. Before making contact with the european settlers in the late 1700's, they had a complex society with the all powerful chiefs and nobles called a potlatch which was a festival that lasted days.
They trap salmon with large wooden fences.

Kwakiutl Thunderbird totem pole, Alert Bay, British Columbia, ca. 1915
Kwakiutl Thunderbird totem pole, Alert Bay, British Columbia, ca. 1915

Here is a Kwakiutl carver at work.

Here are some Kwakiutl masks.

archival image furs stacked on beach
archival image furs stacked on beach

Because the Kwakiutl have access to fish and their body oils, the tribe was an important part of the trade network amongst other tribes. They also hunted, trapping animals for their meat and fur. Such creatures were usually otters, weasels, mink, marmonts, and squirrels which were caught in baited traps. With the furs, women could make clothes and jewelery. And with meat, they obviously fed themselves.

This is a dance that the Kwakiutl did.

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The Kwakiutl traveled on canoes on water to move from place
to place. They held many people including their leaders.

Pacific Coast States map
Pacific Coast States map

The Kwakiutl lived along the Pacific Coast.


  • Hunted fish, sea mammals, deer, and birds
  • Ate berries and roots
  • Women gathered clams, shellfish, and seaweed


  • Some men were something called a breech clout
  • Used cedar bark,animal skins,aprons,skirts,and waterproof clothing


  • They built homes from cedar bark and lodges
  • They decorated their homes with wood carvings and paint
  • Usually their homes were large up to 100 feet.


  • Chisel

  • Stone Maul
  • Drill
  • Stone Hammer
  • Elbow Actre
  • D Shaped Actre


  • The Kwakiutl indians catch salmon with wooden fences and wooden spears.


  • Today, the Kwakiutl speak english
  • Some elders still speak regular language
  • Used to speak "Kwak'wala"


  • Kwakiutl music is used in religious and ritual ceremonies.
  • There main instruments are rattles and whistles.


  1. POTLATCH- a feast that could last for several days
  2. IRRIGATION- away of supplying water to ditches or pip
  3. LONGHOUSE- a home to the indians which was made out of bark, grass, and earth


  • Masks represent ancestral spirits
  • Masks are used in traditional dances and other performances
  • Families have there own masks that are passed from generation to generation
  • Masks tell the history of their ancestry
  • Are expert fisherman

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MPM #17361-4615

Buk’wus mask
The ceremonial function and significance of masks for the Kwakiutl seems to have changed significantly as a result of colonization and Christianization over the last century and a half[2]. The style and form of masks changed in tandem with access to iron tools and supplies made available after contact with early Russian explorers and European settlers (Holm 1965: 5; Malin 1978: 13; Jonaitis 1991: 39, 54; Masco 1995: 42)


Kwakiutl Winter Dance
Kwakiutl Winter Dance

Kwakiutl Winter Dance
This dance is being performed at a southern Kwakiutl village on Quatsino Sound. Elaborate theatrical performances were an important part of Northwest Coast native life (watercolour by

Kwakiutl Village of Xumtaspi-
Kwakiutl Village of Xumtaspi-

Nez Perce