Introduction - Chinook IndiansThe Chinook Indians were several groups of Native American tribes from the Northwest Coast of America all of who spoke one of the Chinookan languages. These Northwest Coast American Indians traditionally lived along the Columbia River in what is present day Oregon and Washington State. In the list below you will find facts about these interesting people which should make for interesting reading for both kids and adults.
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General Chinook Indians Facts
- The famed Lewis and Clark Expedition encountered the Chinook tribe in 1805 along the lower Columbia River. The meetings were friendly and the two groups exchanged gifts.
- One of the most common forms of art of these Northwest American Indians was woven baskets. They were made to be both functional and beautiful.
- Their diet consisted mostly of fish, especially salmon. They also hunted for food such as elk, deer, and sea mammals. The women would gather such food as shellfish, clams, roots, and berries.
- These Native American people were skilled traders. Although they mostly traded with tribes located close to them they were known to trade with people as far south as present day California and as far east as the Great Plains.
- Traditionally Chinook Indians houses were long rectangular structures. These longhouses were made out of cedar wood planks and had roofs made out of tree bark. Usually a whole extended family would live in one of these houses.
- A Chinook village was led by a chief who was always a man. However clan leaders could be a man or a woman.
- One of the most famous Chinook Indians from history is Chief Tumulth who signed the 1855 treaty that created the Grand Ronde Reservation.
- The men of the tribe liked to play a form of lacrosse.
Chinook Indians Clothing, Jewelry, and Body Art Facts
- Traditionally some Chinook men wore a breechcloth however most did not wear any clothing at all.
- Women usually wore short bark or grass skirts.
- For protection from rain they would sometimes wear tule rush capes. Tule Rush is a grasslike plant with stems that are triangular (a sedge) common in the temperate regions where they lived.
- When the weather got cold, as it often did in the Northwest, they would wear fur robes and moccasins.
- Men and women would occasionally wear basket hats made of woven spruce tree roots.
- These American Indians sometimes painted their faces. The design they painted depended on the occasion. For example their would be different designs for religious ceremonies, warfare, and mourning.
- Part of the Chinook culture is the decorating of their bodies and faces with tattoos.
- Chinook women wore necklaces made out of beads.
Facts about Chinook Indians Weapons and Armor
- Bows and Arrows - They used bows and arrows for hunting and for war. The arrows were generally 1 - 2 feet (30 - 61 centimeters) long with flint arrowhead.
- Spears - Most of the tribes warriors would carry spears. These weapons were light and could be used for thrusting or throwing. They were generally between 4 - 6 feet (122 - 183 centimeters) long and had a flint or sharpened wood spearhead.
- Clubs - Clubs were infrequently used. However some warriors used wood clubs ranging from 2 - 3 feet in length. Some clubs had beautiful carvings on them and were used as a status symbol.
- Armor - Many Chinook warriors wore a breastplate called a clamon which covered them from their waist to their neck. It was made out of hardened animal hide and cedar bark. It provided some protection in battle.