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Tsimshianic warfare

Part of Northwest Coast Hall.


The Tsimshianic waged war to acquire slaves or avenge a wrong. Wearing body armor of wooden slats and a helmet and armed with bows and arrows, knives and clubs, small war parties raided isolated villages. Warriors prepared for a read by practicing paddling a large war canoe noiselessly and, with their wives, performing ceremonies to ensure success. The wives staged a sham raid for “slaves,” seizing and holding their neighbors’ children for the duration of the warriors’ raid. The Tsimshianic believed that if these well-treated children were docile and happy, the slaves captured on the real raid would be docile and happy too.