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Salish Sea, Washington 98516, USA

First Contact:

gather% / fish % / hunt %
fat % / protein % / carb%

A rough estimate to help us understand how carnivorous and how ketogenic these people were before being exposed to western civilization

Click this Slide deck Gallery to see high quality images of the tribe, daily life, diet, hunting and gathering or recipes

About the Tribe

The Coast Salish is a group of ethnically and linguistically related Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, living in British Columbia, Canada and the U.S. states of Washington and Oregon. They speak one of the Coast Salish languages. Nuxalk (Bella Coola) nation are usually included in the group, although their language is more closely related to Interior Salish languages.

The Coast Salish are a large, loose grouping of many tribes with numerous distinct cultures and languages. Territory claimed by Coast Salish peoples span from the northern limit of the Salish Sea (aka Strait of Georgia) on the inside of Vancouver Island and covers most of southern Vancouver Island, all of the Lower Mainland and most of Puget Sound and the Olympic Peninsula (except for territories of now-extinct Chemakum people). Their traditional territories coincide with modern major metropolitan areas, namely Victoria, Vancouver, and Seattle. The Tillamook or Nehalem around Tillamook, Oregon are the southernmost of the Coast Salish peoples.

Coast Salish cultures differ considerably from those of their northern neighbours. They have a patrilineal rather than matrilineal kinship system, with inheritance and descent passed through the male line. According to a 2013 estimate, the population of Coast Salish numbers at least 56,590 people, made of 28,406 Status Indians registered to Coast Salish bands in British Columbia, and 28,284 enrolled members of federally recognized Coast Salish tribes in Washington State.


Importance of Animal Products

The difference between catching a 5-pound salmon in a net and harpooning a 20-ton whale seems clear enough, but what do we do when we find the same coast Salish "sea-food producer" (a native category) harpooning at one time a 200-pound seal and at another a I,ooo-pound sturgeon ? The difference, as it was with roots and shellfish, is simply a matter of food value, and not a very great one at that. The coast Salish also harpooned salmon and netted seals, ducks, and deer. If we base our taxonomy on implements and activities, we have to ignore the taxonomy of biology, and vice versa. If we set up a category of activity based on either type of implement (as "net") or biological taxon (as "fish"), we will still be ignoring two other variables, specialization and cooperat i on , which may be more pertinent to the questions we are asking than are types of implements or animals.

For example, some of my informants and the informants of others have believed that the gill net is not aboriginal in the Salish area. However, a comparison of native terms for the gill net and the record of an earlier observer suggest that it probably was, in fact, aboriginal.

Importance of Plants

"I am willing to admit that my guess of 10 per cent dependence on vegetable foods for the central coast Salish may be too low, but the Kwakiutl figure given in the Atlas is surely too high.

present a similar case."

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Transition to Industrialized Food Products

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