The Makah Indian Tribe own the Makah Indian Reservation on the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula and includes Tatoosh Island. They live in and around the town of Neah Bay, Washington, a small fishing village along the Strait of Juan de Fuca where it meets the Pacific Ocean.
The Makah Indians were primarily marine hunters. Makah men hunted seals, sea lions, and even whales from their canoes. They also caught fish and hunted deer, birds, and small game on land. Makah women gathered clams and shellfish, berries, and roots.
Why didn’t the Makah tribe farm? They just wanted to play Xbox ALL day, just like Denzel. They had too much food in the forest. They traded with other tribes.
Makah acquired much of their food from the ocean. Their diet consisted of whale, seal, fish, and a wide variety of shellfish. They would also hunt deer, elk, and bear from the surrounding forests. Women also gathered a wide variety of nuts, berries and edible plants and roots for their foods.
The Makah believe that physical beings would return to the world after death as spirits and would haunt the places they were attached to before their deaths. The Makah have a ritual tradition of burning an individual’s personal possessions after death and throwing them out onto the beach.
It features a grand parade and street fair as well as canoe races, traditional games, singing, dancing, feasting, and fireworks. Many Makah tribal members derive most of their income from fishing. Makah fish for salmon, halibut, Pacific whiting, and other marine fish.
Makah hunters used harpoons tipped with mussel shells and bows and arrows. Fishermen used hook and line or wooden fish traps. In war, Makah men fired their bows or fought with spears and war clubs. Makah warriors would wear armor made of hardened elk hide.
Makah is a southern Wakashan language that was spoken in the northwest of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state in the USA, along the south side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The last fluent native speaker, Ruth E. Claplanhoo, died in 2002, however the Makah tribe are working to revive the language.
Since time immemorial, the Makah people have depended on the reliable and abundant resources from the ocean for their subsistence, culture and economy. Hunting whales, seals and other sea mammals and catching halibut, salmon and other marine fish have always been integral and essential to Makah life.
Many Makah believe a traditional diet that includes whale can help to improve their health. The preparation for a hunt is also physically and spiritually nourishing, tribal members say. Hunters train by running and paddling every day.
The western red cedar tree was probably the most beneficial tree to the Makah tribe because they used it for almost everything, including their clothing. The bark was ideal for making clothing because it had moldable properties.
The name Makah was attributed to the Tribe by the neighboring tribes, meaning “people generous with food” in the Salish language.
More than any other plant, the western red cedar tree (Thuja plicata), provided an incredible source of materials for almost everything needed in life. The bark of the cedar tree was used for mats, baskets, clothing, towels, diapers and blankets.
Potlatch, ceremonial distribution of property and gifts to affirm or reaffirm social status, as uniquely institutionalized by the American Indians of the Northwest Pacific coast.
The bounty of the reservation is not limited to the natural resources of the rivers, lakes, tidelands, and ocean areas in Makah territory. Makah forests provide many types of wood for carvers, many species of land animals for hunters, and a wide variety of plants that can be used for food, medicine, or raw materials.