Aboriginal Week: Understanding Culture

June 24, 2016

This week we are posting stories each day to celebrate the diverse cultures and histories of our local First Nations communities.


Understanding a culture means understanding the Culture Area of the region.

Culture Area is an area where groups of people are shaped by their environment, including the climate. This in turn dictates the type of food, shelter, transportation, and clothing used by the groups of people.

The Coast Salish Culture Area stretches from the northern tip of California to the southern tip of Alaska. An abundance of flora, fauna, cedar, salmon, and other seafood found in an environment of coastal ocean and rivers, rain forests and mountains shaped Coast Salish peoples culture.


Traditionally, the Cedar tree provided shelter, transportation, and clothing. And salmon continues to be an important food source.

The Spindle Whorl was used for spinning mountain goat hair. The mountain goat hair was harvested for weaving clothing and blankets. Woolly dogs were also once bred for the use of their hair, but they are now extinct.

The relative ease of obtaining food by fishing, hunting, and gathering meant time to develop elaborate ceremonies such as Potlatch ceremonies and winter celebration ceremonies.

The culture of the Prairie Nations includes Pow-Wows, beaded moccasins, horses, long feather headdresses, and tipis. This does not apply to the Coast Salish Culture Area. However, on National Aboriginal Day, we are celebrating all nations from coast to coast to coast.