The Plateau Indians occupied regions in Western Canada, specifically British Columbia, and the United States, including parts of Idaho, California, Montana, Washington, and Oregon. This was an area dominated by lakes, rivers, and trees and was known for cold, snowy winters and warm summers.
In this section of Native American Indian facts we have interesting information on who the Indians of this region were, what they ate, where they lived, and when and why their ceremonies occurred. There is also a list of major tribes within that region.
List of Plateau American Indian Tribes
List of Plateau American Indian Facts
Hunting was an essential part of survival to these American Indians. They relied heavily on their weapons to obtain food. The men trapped the animals with lassos
or other types of weapons and then used either harpoons, clubs, spears, slings or their primary hunting weapon, a bow and arrow to make the kill. If necessary they
would also use fire to trap them or even drive them into the water to be killed.
The indigenous people of this area believed that everything, including inanimate objects, has a soul or a spirit. This is called Animism. Many traditional
ceremonies were held, mainly to strengthen and renew their bond with the supernatural. Spirit quests are a perfect example of this. Adolescents were sent to a
mountaintop for a period of 5 days without food or water. They were to wait there until a vision with part human and part animal characteristics appeared. This vision
was said to give supernatural powers so the adolescents would be protected throughout their life.
In a ceremony, called the whipping ceremony, young boys from 5 to 10 years old were whipped by an Indian doctor because it was thought that this would prevent them
from becoming sick during the winter months. There were also celebrations for reaching puberty, catching a first fish or game, and getting married.
A staple of the Plateau Indian's diet was berries. The women were responsible for gathering blackberries, huckleberries and wild strawberries. Their diet also
consisted of various roots, bulbs, vegetables, meat and fish. Salmon was one of the most important foods to the Plateau Indians. They relied heavily on stored and
dried food during the cold winter months.
In addition to a variety of knives, they also used several other tools. A pebble tool was a smooth, water-worn tool. It was often used for cutting, chopping,
crushing, cracking, shredding, pulping, scraping, and smoothing.
The ulna tool was a type of pointed knife made from animal bone, usually deer. It was made in many different sizes and shapes. The knife was used for splitting
everything from fish to trees.
Bone points were used mainly for hunting and fishing purposes. They varied in size and were essentially sharpened bone pieces that could be attached to hooks or
Warmer months were spent living in teepees while winters were spent in larger, more fortified villages or camps. These Indians lived mainly underground during the
winter in pit houses which were sometimes connected to one another by a series of tunnels.
Men and women of the Plateau region regularly traded possessions. They traded anything of value including robes made from buffalo, tobacco, animal skins, clothing,
feathers, pipes made from stone, and food such as dried berries and roots.
Plateau tribes were very skilled in the art of basketry. There were several different types for different purposes. These handmade baskets were used in everyday
life to collect fruits and nuts, to store food, and also to cook certain foods.
Although men and women had separate daily duties, they were considered equals. Each had a right to their own opinion and women were allowed to serve on councils.
They were socially and economically equal in every way.