Coast Salish

Timothy Neesam/Flickr

"Coast SAY-lish"

Coast Salish territory has many distinct groups, each with their own name. Ancestral Coast Salish lands surround Puget Sound, and extend north to the Gulf of Georgia, encompassing southeastern Vancouver Island and southern mainland British Columbia.

Population: Approximately 50,000 Language: More than a dozen related languages and dialects in the Salishan language family


In Coast Salish Territory—Seattle Area

In Coast Salish Territory—Vancouver

From the Collections: Coast Salish Twana basket


A woman living near Washington State’s Skokomish River wove this basket with a popular design: wolves on the rim and salmon gills on the rest. The bright carrying strap is odd for this soft style basket, which wasn’t made for heavy loads. The strap likely was added later for effect—perhaps to make it more attractive to a potential buyer.

This basket is from Coast Salish territory in Washington State.

AMNH 16.1/1966, acquired 1923

Women carrying a basket stands in a wooded area and prods the forest floor with a wooden digging tool. This Salish woman carries a stiff basket while digging roots in 1898 near Kamloops, B.C. She uses the strap, called a tumpline, on her head to support the basket.
AMNH Library 42957
Women wearing blankets sit along the shoreline displaying baskets to tourists in western dress. Weavers in Alaska sell baskets to tourists around 1900. At this time, tourism was already an important source of income for Northwest Coast artists.
Oregon Historical Society

 Meanings of Mountains

Snowcapped mountain with tall evergreen trees in the foreground. Mount Baker, Washington. The Lummi, Nooksack and other Coast Salish people consider Mount Baker to be sacred. Beyond its natural beauty and ecology, they value it for skalalitude—a sacred state of mind engendered here. 
R. Bishop/AGE Fotostock
Protestors march in group, one holding a sign that reads "reclaim, rename, reoccupy". PKOLS (Mount Douglas), Victoria, Vancouver Island, B.C. On the border of the traditional territories of two Coast Salish groups, the W̱SÁNEĆ (Saanich) and Lekwungen (Songhees), Mount Douglas has long been an important meeting place and a site of an historic treaty signing. Chiefs of the two groups and more than 700 supporters marched on the mountain in 2013 to reclaim its original name, PKOLS.
B. Dean


From the Collections: Cowichan Spindle Whorl

Woman sits on a blanket and twirls a spindle to create yarn. C’elicia, a Musqueam (Coast Salish) weaver, spins with a huge spindle and whorl about the size of this one in 1915.
Royal BC Museum and Archives PN 83
Oversized wooden spindle whorl hangs on the wall. This giant carved cedar spindle whorl is a work by Musqueam (Coast Salish) master artist Susan Point (E’ixwe’tiye), installed at the Vancouver International Airport.
Vancouver Airport Authority/Larry Goldstein

Fishing Traditions