Chinook Indians

The location of the Chinook Indians was prime. They lived west of the Cascade Mountain Range, resided at the mouth of the Columbia river, and the northern part of the Willamette river, which was a prime location for trading, fishing, and materials. The tribe was in both what is considered to be Washington and Oregon state is today.

The Chinook Indians had their own language called Chinook Jargon. It was a Northwest trade language composed of several different languages (English, Nootka, and other languages). The Chinook today speak English and some elders speak a small amount of Chinook Jargon as a second language.

Due to the region that the Chinook Indians lived in, many clothes were not needed to live in the area. The area was only exposed to mild heat and mild cold during the summer and winter. The only real protection that the Chinook's needed was a woven rain hat to keep from getting too soaked. Fur capes were worn during the winter to fight off the mild cold. The women wore skirts and dresses woven from cattails, cedar bark, and dog hair. The male attire was seemingly basic. The men wore breech cloths and walked around barefoot. The clothes were composed of raw material and designed to look attractive.
Diet and/or food sources
The Chinook Indians were very resourceful. They captured salmon near the Columbia river using spears, nets (woven from nettle plants), and traps. The Indians knew they could not eat all of their salmon in one sitting and could earn some new tools or items from bartering. They dried the salmon to trade and eat later. The video below shows the movement of salmon the Pacific Ocean from the Columbia river. Since the salmon only ran once a year, the Chinook people had other food sources. They enjoyed sturgeon, elk, seals, sea lions, and deer. Dogs were trained to run the elk into an open field where the hunters could easily kill the elk.

Types of shelter
The Chinook Indians were masters at building and crafting plank houses. The plank houses were composed of wood from cedar trees. The plank houses also went by "pit houses", because the house was built over a large whole in the ground and sometimes contained underground room. Chinook villages were composed of rows of wooden houses. The wooden houses were made from wooden planks and they were substancial in size, the posts in the house contained carvings and painted walls! The houses were well decorated to make the living space slightly more open. The houses contained no windows.
Chinook Indian Cedar Plankhouse Royalty Free Stock Image - Image: 16041996
Chinook Indian Cedar Plankhouse Royalty Free Stock Image - Image: 16041996

Modes of Transportation
Since the Chinook Indians were masters at trading, because of their perfect region, they had many modes of transportation to move goods and people. Although traveling on foot was popular, traveling in a dug-out canoe was the best way to travel and trade in and around the Pacific ocean and Columbia river. A dug-out canoe is made from a hollowed out cedar or fir logs. The dug-out canoe's were also used for warfare, hunting, and fishing.

Economic Activity
The Chinooks had many economic activities, many of which had to do with the natural wildlife of the land. Each person in the tribe had there own roles in there life and community. Some went on hunting trips with others, hunting dear, elk, and small game. As others gathered berry's and nuts, along with anything they could use as a recourse.

Religious Beliefs
The Chinooks believe in spiritual guardians. These guardians take shape of a spirit animal. Some of these spirit animals are of a guide to the Chinooks. Many believing that they are giving powers from there spirit guide, like some gifts of the talent of fishing or of hunting. The guardians help them remember of the elders and help them on the journey of life. These may take form as a bear or any other animal.
Social Organization
The Chinooks families are really strong, they typically have the females do all the house work and all the cleaning. the males are the ones that go hunting and fishing. gathering the food for the tribe and family.

Unique Customs

Tools and Implements

Recreation and Games

Most tribes in the northwest used the same weapons. Their weapons included harpoons, spears, clubs, fish hooks, bows and arrows, plus other little things they could find. The Chinooks were excellent whale hunters and they would make wooden harpoons from long spears with sharp shell points. The Tribe was very smart and would train their dogs to chase elk and deer into open fields for the tribe to kill. This tribe wouldn't waste a single part of the animal to show respect to the dead animal and show that it was put to good use.

Unique Characteristics
The Chinook Indians were like most Indians you still see today. They have a oval shaped face and most have long braided hair and a feather. The Chinook Indians were shorter but stocky Indians. the guys tended to not wear much clothing but the girls had long skirts made out of dog fur and cattails.
Special Ceremonies
The Chinook tribe held several special ceremonies but there was one very special to every Chinook Indian. The Potlatches were held to show the wealth of a family in the tribe. Potlatches are a special celebration where the hosts give valuable gifts to their guests. Families would prepare for years to do their Potlatch. There was also a special ceremony that was kind of a tradition for the Chinook Indians. the first salmon caught every year was cooked in a special way and every bone was left in the river as respect to the fish.

Attitude Towards Child Rearing
They do the same things any children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Chinook children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. Indian kids had more chores and less time to play, just like early colonial children. But they did have dolls, toys and games to play. A form of lacrosse was a popular among teenagers as it was among adult men. Like many Native Americans, Chinook mothers traditionally carried their babies in cradleboards on their backs. The kids were a part of there mothers clans,

Governmental Structure

Trade and Commerce
The Chinook Indians trade was most likely the best in Washington. native tribes from the northwest traveled the Columbia to trade. There was a problem with other tribes trying to trade in there own language so the Chinook tribe developed a language for trading. They traded everything for example, dried fish, shells, furs, whale products, seal oil, cedar, jewelry, baskets, copper, and prisoners and many more. The prisoners we a sign of wealth within the tribes.

Work Cited

Source 1:
"The Chinooks." Accessed September 24, 2013.

Source 2:
Master, Website. Access Genology. .

Source 3: Williams, Suzanne M. Chinook Indians . Chicago, Illinois: Heinamann Library, 2004.

Source 4: Redish, Laura. Native Langauges of America. Accessed September 24, 2013. .