Native American Nations on the West Coast: Washington, Oregon and California

The Pacific Northwest Is A Hub Of Native Life

The earliest Native North Americans in what became the United States likely split from the First Nations groups that spread out across Canada from British Columbia and the Arctic, traveling across the continent to the Maritime Provinces.

Many of these groups migrated southward initially to what became the states of Washington, Oregon, and California. The tradition of carved cedar poles, masks, and other items went with them.

Of the three Pacific Coast states, California is home to the largest number of Native American tribes/nations and bands (hunting groups) along the US Pacific Coast.

The indigenous peoples of Washington and Oregon demonstrate more resemblance to the First Nations members that reside in the Canadian Pacific Northwest than to the nations living in California. The California groups have taken on a different type and flavor of culture and tradition.

Washington Native Americans

Salish Men

Salish men in Washington.
Salish men in Washington. | Source

Washington State Indigenous Nations and Bands

  • Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians
  • Chehalis Community Council PO Box 536, Oakville, 98568
  • Chinook Tribe
  • Colville Business Council PO Box 150, Nespelem, 99155
  • Cowlitz Tribe
  • Duwamish Tribal Office 140 Rainier Ave S, Ste 7, Renton, 98005
  • Hoh Tribe 2464 Lower Hoh Rd, Forks, 98331
  • Jamestown S'Klallam Tribal Council
  • Kalispel Business Committee 1981 LeClerc Rd N, PO Box 39, Usk, 99180
  • Lower Elwha Community Council 2851 Lower Elwha Rd, Port Angeles, 98363
  • Lummi Business Council 2616 Kwina Rd, Bellingham, 98226-9298
  • Makah Tribal Council - People Of the Cape
  • Muckleshoot Tribal Council 39015 172nd St SE, Auburn, 98002
  • Nisqually Indian Community Council 4820 She-Nah-Num Dr SE, Olympia, 98503
  • Nooksack Tribal Council PO Box 157, Deming, 98244
  • Port Gamble S'Klallam Community Council 31912 Little Boston Rd NE, Kingston, 98346
  • Puyallup Tribal Council 2002 E 28th St, Tacoma, 98404
  • Quileute Tribal Council\ PO Box 279, LaPush, 98350
  • Quinault Business Committee PO Box 189, Taholah, 98587
  • Samish Tribal Council 803 31st Ave, PO Box 217, Anacortes, 98221
  • Sauk-Suiattle Tribal Council
  • Shoalwater Bay Tribal Council PO Box 130, Tokeland, 98590
  • Skokomish Tribal Council N 80 Tribal Center Rd, Shelton, 98584
  • Snohomish Tribal Office 18933 59th Ave N, Rm 115, Arlington, 98223
  • Snoqualmie Tribal Office 3946 Tolt Ave, PO Box 280, Carnation, 98104
  • Squaxin Island Tribal Council SE 70 Squaxin Ln, Shelton, 98584
  • Steilacoom Tribe 1515 Lafayette St, PO Box 88419, Steilacoom, 98388
  • Stillaguamish Board of Directors 2439 Stoluckquamish Ln, Arlington, 98223
  • Suquamish Tribal Council
  • Swinomish Indian Senate PO Box 817, LaConner, 98257
  • Tulalip Board of Directors 6700 Totem Beach Rd, Marysville, 98271
  • Upper Skagit Tribal Council 2284 Community Plaza, Sedro Woolley, 98284
  • Makah Tribe - In March 2015, a government study opened the way for these people who live off the coast of Washington to hunt the gray whale in restricted numbers. This whale was removed from the official list of endangered species in 1994. The new hunt restored the whale-based economy and preserved part of the culture of the Makah..
  • Yakima Tribal Council PO Box 151, Toppenish, 98948

Makah: "People of the Sea and Forest"

The beautiful Neah Bay of Washington has been the home of the Makah Tribe for thousands of years.

The Gray Whale.
The Gray Whale. | Source

The resilient Makah people have been a whale-based economy. They ate the meat and traded gray whale meat with other groups for needed items. They used the blubber for fuel oil, sinew for tools, gut for various containers, and the bones for art pieces.

Makah Museum Cultural and Research Center

Makah Nation Reservation

show route and directions
A markerNeah Bay, Washington -
Neah Bay, WA, USA
[get directions]

B markerSalish Sea -
Salish Sea
[get directions]

Makah Nation Photographs

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A Makah woman in 1900.Western Red Cedar is used for canoes, masks, textiles, and cedar pole carving (totem poles).Tatoosh Island on the Makah Reservation: Cape Flattery Lighthouse.The Makah People on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. about 1900.A young Makah woman in 1916.Sunset at the Makah's Shi Shi BeachOzette Village was largely abandoned, because of mudslides in 1750. Some residents stayed until 1934 and moved to Neah Bay at that time.
A Makah woman in 1900.
A Makah woman in 1900. | Source
Western Red Cedar is used for canoes, masks, textiles, and cedar pole carving (totem poles).
Western Red Cedar is used for canoes, masks, textiles, and cedar pole carving (totem poles). | Source
Tatoosh Island on the Makah Reservation: Cape Flattery Lighthouse.
Tatoosh Island on the Makah Reservation: Cape Flattery Lighthouse. | Source
The Makah People on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. about 1900.
The Makah People on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. about 1900. | Source
A young Makah woman in 1916.
A young Makah woman in 1916. | Source
Sunset at the Makah's Shi Shi Beach
Sunset at the Makah's Shi Shi Beach | Source
Ozette Village was largely abandoned, because of mudslides in 1750. Some residents stayed until 1934 and moved to Neah Bay at that time.
Ozette Village was largely abandoned, because of mudslides in 1750. Some residents stayed until 1934 and moved to Neah Bay at that time. | Source
Source

The Coastal Salish

These people live along the coastline of the Northwest United States and Canada.

Coastal Salish

Salishan man named William We-ah-lup smoking salmon, Tulalip Indian Reservation, Washington, 1906
Salishan man named William We-ah-lup smoking salmon, Tulalip Indian Reservation, Washington, 1906

Washington Coast Salish Groups

The Washington Coast Salish groups specifically may resemble the First Nations Salish and other western First Nations more closely than they resemble other groups of US Pacific Northwest nations or bands.

They state in part on SalishSeaConference.com:

The Coast Salish people are the owners of the Salish Sea. Our ancestors have passed down the traditional teachings of songs, dances, and spiritual ceremonies that depict our identity and strengths of our peoples. Our sacred trust has been given to us from our ancestors and defines our role as protectors of our Mother Earth. We are entrusted with the protection and sustainability of environment and natural resources of our ancestral lands and waters of the Salish Sea.

The Salish Sea Between Washington and BC

A markerSalish Sea -
Salish Sea
[get directions]

Oregon Native Americans

Oregon is home to at least ten umbrella groups of several Native North American nations or tribes.

Coast Salish Anthem

Oregon Nations

Southern Oregon Native American woman
Southern Oregon Native American woman

Oregon Nations and Bands

  • The Klamath Tribes | Klamath Modoc Yahooskin

Eastern Orgeon
Eastern Orgeon

Oregon Pow Wow

California Native Americans

The State of California is home to at least 107 different US Federally recognized Native American Nations and 95 Federal Indian Reservations.

A group of Californian Native Americans
A group of Californian Native Americans

Nearly 100 Native Reservations

The State of California is home to at least 107 different US Federally recognized Native American Nations and 95 Federal Indian Reservations.

In the 2010s, the state is also home to least 40 additional Native American groups that are seeking Federal Recognition in California.

California is prominent in supporting its universities and colleges in studying the culture and histories of its Indigenous Peoples and encouraging preservation of languages and ways of life. Many related educational and community based programs are located in Southern California.

However, the Wintu Nation in Northern California is more directly linked to experiences and history of the California Gold Rush around Sacramento. Many of their customs are illustrated in installations at Turtle Bay Exploration Park in Redding, California.

Turtle Bay Exploration Park

A markerTurtle Bay Exploration Park -
Turtle Bay Exploration Park, 844 Sundial Bridge Drive, Redding, CA 96003, USA
[get directions]

Davis, California Pow Wow

© 2007 Patty Inglish

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Comments and Additions 9 comments

gabriella05 profile image

gabriella05 9 years ago from Oldham

I am taking so much pleasure in reading those hubs and so much knowledge

Thank you very much


Zsuzsy Bee profile image

Zsuzsy Bee 9 years ago from Ontario/Canada

Great HUB Patty!

regards Zsuzsy


MrMarmalade profile image

MrMarmalade 9 years ago from Sydney

A tremendous bounty of folklore , I love it.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

I am glad you all like this series. I am learning new material as I go over my notes and add new information.

Thomson Gale pulishers has a 4-volume encyclopedia on indigenous peoples and each book is about 3-4 inches thick. However, it was published in 2003 and already more information is avaiable. :)


Wehzo profile image

Wehzo 9 years ago from Detroit, MI

I am exceptionally impressed with your series on Native Americans. Your research and writing skills are very good.


Patty Inglish, MS profile image

Patty Inglish, MS 9 years ago from North America Author

Thanks Wehzo. when it's goping well I feel "in the zone" to write - or annointed! :) I'm glad you stopped by.


lol 7 years ago

great info XD


WesternHistory profile image

WesternHistory 5 years ago from California

Very interesting stories of the various Indian Nations and tribes. Enjoyed the hub.


Say Yes To Life profile image

Say Yes To Life 4 years ago from Big Island of Hawaii

Thanks so much for publishing this! If I had to live in the days before technology, I would LOVE to have been a Native American in the Northwest, particularly Washington State. They were the best off; in fact, anytime someone accumulated too much wealth, s/he would hold a potlatch where lots of things would be given away. That is THE LIFE!

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