September 27, 2012

Native Americans Day 10: Northwest Coast: Chinook

Northwest Coast: Chinook
1. Review: We talked about the Nez Perce tribe in the Plateau region last time. Today we will move to the Northwest Coast region (show on regional map) and learn about the Chinook tribe.
2. Map Skills: Compare the regional map to the globe or map today and see what countries or states are in the Northwest Coast region.
3. Discuss: Fill out the Tribes Chart after reading each section. Have the child listen closely to choose what word to put on the chart. Bold type words are good suggestions. After the chart has been filled out let the child color the Northwest Coast region on the blank Native American Groups Map.
  • Habitat: The Northwest Coastal Indians lived in what is now Alaska along the Pacific Ocean down the coast to Northern California. This was a rugged strip of land with many small islands, deep inlets, and narrow beaches. The mountains rise to the shore in many places. Thick forests of spruce, cedar, and fir dominate the area supplying and endless supply of wood. Many rivers and streams cross the land.
  • Homes: Most Chinook villages consisted of longhouses. Each housed 30 to 40 people. They were made by covering large beams with planked sides gabled in the north. The posts were often decorated with carved figures. The earth floors were divided by woven mats into family units. Several families lived in one of these large structures. Each family was allowed a space about the size of a barn stall. Each family had its own fire, but cookfires in the center of the building were shared.
  • Dress: The Chinook Indians wore little clothing and, except for on long journeys, they went barefoot. The men wore basketry or fur hats. They wore fiber rain capes and skin robes. The men wore breech cloths. The women living in the Washington area wore fringed cedar-bark or goatskin skirts. In other places the women wore fiber string aprons. The women wore basketry hats, rain capes, sleeveless jackets, and some skin robes.
  • Food: The Northwest Coastal Indians fished and could catch enough fish during the summer salmon run to feed themselves for the whole winter. The Indians also caught a variety of food from the sea including halibut and cod. They ate clams, crabs, seals, sea otters, sea lions, fish, herring eggs, and mussels, sea urchins, and seaweed. The men hunted land animals including bear, caribou, deer, elk, and moose. The women gathered roots, berries, seaweed for salt, nuts, fungus, acorns, and camas bulbs. Blueberries and huckleberries were some of the favorite berries.
4. Read: Chinook Indians by Suzanne Morgan Williams
5. Comprehension questions:
  • What region did the Chinook live in? Northwest Coast
  • What kind of homes did the Chinook build? longhouses
  • What kind of clothes did the Chinook wear? Robes, barefooted, capes, breech cloths, aprons and skirts
  • How did the Chinook get their food? Hunted, fished, and gathered

Chinook Symbol Pots

  • Pacific Northwest symbols
  • plain clay flower pot
  • white colored pencil
  • paint brush
  • red, black and white acrylic paint
  • clear, acrylic sealer
  1. Using the white pencil, have the students draw Chinook symbols on the clay pot.
  2. Paint in the symbols and allow the pots to dry.
  3. Take the pots outdoors and spray them with clear, acrylic sealer. Allow them to dry over night. 
  4. Thecan be filled with dirt and planted with seeds or small plants.


    Chinook Animal Bead Bracelet

    Discuss: The Chinook are known for using bright, primary colors in their arts and crafts.

    • 8-inch length of elastic string
    • plastic fish or bear beads
    • pony beads in choices of red, yellow, black, white, blue and green

    1. Have each child choose three bead colors for his bracelet.
    2. String three pony beads, then one animal bead. Continue in this pattern until the beading is 5 to 7 inches long, depending on the size of the child's wrist.
    3. Tie the ends together, knotting them securely. Snip the leftover elastic thread.

    Totem Pole Bookmarker
    Discuss: Pacific Northwest tribes carved Totem poles from large trees, mostly Western Red Cedar. The word totem is derived from the Ojibew word odoodem, "his kinship group". Each totem pole contains carved emblems of the family and tell a story to remind members of their family history. The totem pole is carved and painted with family or clan emblems, crests and figures which represent mythic beings. It is generally erected in front of or near a dwelling. Often the meanings of the symbols and story they told were known only by the members of the particular clan or the artist.

    • Cardstock
    • Scissors
    • Markers or Stickers

    1. Copy the bookmark onto cardstock.
    2. Cut out the bookmark.
    3. Use markers or stickers to add designs or symbols to represent stories in your life.

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