Northwest California/Oregon Culture

Northwest California/Oregon Cultural Traits

1.   Sedentary hunter/fisher/gatherers
.   Fish an important food source, particularly salmon
.   Acorns an important food source
.   Made and relied on large cedar and redwood boats
2.   Practiced Northwestern animistic religion
.   Strict incest taboos
.   Puberty rites of passage:
.   Usually monogamous
.   Shaman based
3.   Occasionally at war
4.   Capitalistic
5.   Excellent basket weavers and made basket hats
6.   Lived in small cedar or redwood plank houses
7.   Traded extensively
8.   No government
9.   Excellent carvers

Northwest California/Oregon Culture languages and tribes:

Phylum / Stock / Family / Language Tribe
Hokan / Western Hokan / Shastan / Shastan Karuk
Macro-Algonquian / Ritwan / Ritwan / Wiyot Wiyot, CA
Macro-Algonquian / Ritwan / Ritwan / Yurok Yurok, CA
Mosan / Siletz / Siletz / Siletz Siletz, OR
Mosan / Tillamook / Tillamook / Tillamook Tillamook, OR
Na-Dene / Athapaskan / Pacific Coast Athapaskan / Chastacostan Chastacosta, OR
Chetco, OR
Talushtuntude, OR
Tututni, OR
Umpqua, OR
Na-Dene / Athapaskan / Pacific Coast Athapaskan / Hupan Chilula, CA
Hupa, CA
Whilcut, CA
Na-Dene / Athapaskan / Pacific Coast Athapaskan / Tolowan Tolowa, CA, OR
Northwest California-Oregon Ethnobotany  
Common Name Scientific Name Use Comment
Aleutian Maidenhair Adiantum aleuticum (Rupr.) Paris Basketry Stems used for the designs in baskets.
American Skunkcabbage Lysichiton americanus Hultén & St. John Food Root centers eaten after boiling eight times.
Bigelow's Tobacco Nicotiana quadrivalvis var. bigelovii (Torr.) DeWolf Smoke Leaves smoked for liesure
Bigleaf Maple Acer macrophyllum Pursh Hunting Bark cut into one-inch bands, fastened together into a roll and used to catch deer.
Black Cottonwood Populus deltoides Bartr. ex Marsh. Glue Pitch used to attach feathers to arrows
Basketry Roots used
Tattooing Pitch used to apply soot in the tattooing process.
Blue Elderberry Sambucus nigra ssp. canadensis (L.) R. Bolli Food Berries eaten fresh, dried for later use, made into jams, jellies, sauces
Medicinal Numerous
Basketry Stems, bark, leaves used to make 4 colors of dye
Music Stems used to make  whistles
Weapons Stems used to make arrows
Broadleaf Cattail Typha latifolia L. Clothing Leaves woven together to make raincoats
Misc. Leaves woven to make mats
California Black Oak Quercus kelloggii Newberry Food Acorns stored up to one year, ground, leached, cooked into mush, soup, cakes, bread
California Groundcone Blechnum spicant (L.) Sm. Food Eaten when young
California Hazelnut Corylus cornuta var. californica (A. DC.) Sharp Food Nuts used for food, nuts dried for later use
Basketry Stems used in basketry, dried shoots soaked in water and used to make baskets.
California Laurel Umbellularia californica (Hook. & Arn.) Nutt. Food Seeds shelled, roasted and eaten, seeds baked in the sand under a fire and used for food.
Ceremony Foliage placed on fire during the Brush Dance to drive evil spirits away, leaves burned, to take bad luck away, in the house or the smoke waved over people as they leave.
California Licoriceroot Ligusticum californicum Coult. & Rose Food Root used
California Lomantium Lomatium californicum (Nutt.) Mathias & Constance Smoking Root chewed and smoked in a pipe
California Strawberry Fragaria vesca ssp. californica (Cham. & Schlecht.) Staudt Food Fresh fruit used for food
California Wild Grape Vitis californica Benth. Food Fruit eaten
Basketry Roots used
Cordage Vines used
California Yerbasanta Eriodictyon californicum (Hook. & Arn.) Torr. Drink Decoction of leaves and Pinus lambertiana pitch or leaves chewed and water taken as soothing drink.
Canyon Live Oak Quercus chrysolepis Liebm. Food Acorns stored up to one year, ground, leached, cooked into mush, soup, cakes, bread
Coastal Redwood Sequoia sempervirens (Lamb. ex D. Don) Endl. Boats Canoe dugout
Building Log made into planks
Common Beargrass Xerophyllum tenax (Pursh) Nutt. Basketry New sprouts used to make baskets, especially for designs, grass used as a border pattern in baskets.
Clothing Small leaves used to make dresses.
Common Cowparsnip Heracleum maximum Bartr. Food Stem layers eaten raw
Common Juniper Juniperus communis var. montana Ait. Decoration Dried berries used to decorate dresses and make necklaces
Common Madia Madia elegans D. Don ex Lindl. Food Seeds parched and pounded into a flour.
Conjested Snakelily Dichelostemma capitatum ssp. capitatum Food Bulbs used for food
Deerbrush Ceanothus integerrimus Hook. & Arn. Basketry New shoots used to make baskets
Deer Fern Blechnum spicant (L.) Sm. Misc. Leaves used for bedding
Del Norte Manzanita Arctostaphylos ×cinerea T.J. Howell (pro sp.) [canescens × viscida] Food Berries eaten
Del Norte County Iris Iris innominata Henderson Cordage Roots and leaves used to make cordage.
Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga menziesii (Mirbel) Franco Candy Young sprouts used to chew
Drink Young sprouts used to make tea
Elegant Clusterlily Brodiaea elegans Hoover Food Bulbs baked in sand with a fire built over them.
Evergreen Huckleberry Vaccinium ovatum Pursh Food Fresh berries used for food or dried and stored
Giant Chainfern Woodwardia fimbriata Sm. Basketry Leaf fiber used to make baskets.
Giant Horsetail Equisetum telmateia var. braunii (Milde) Milde Food Very small, fresh sprouts used for food.
Golden Chunkapin Chrysolepis chrysophylla var. chrysophylla Food "Nuts" roasted in coals and eaten, "nuts" shaken out of the dried fruits, rolled over hot coals and eaten.
Gordon's Mockorange Philadelphus lewisii Pursh Weapons Older, less pithy wood formerly used to make bows, young, very pithy shoots used to make arrows.
Grouse Whortleberry Vaccinium scoparium Leib. ex Coville Food Berries used for food
Tools Branches used as brooms
Gummy Gooseberry Ribes lobbii Gray Food Fresh fruits used for food
Heartleaf Milkweed Asclepias cordifolia (Benth.) Jepson Candy Latex boiled, condensed and chewed, dried latex chewed by the older people at their leisure.
Hinds' Willow Salix exigua Nutt. Basketry Young shoots and roots used, stems used for the main ribs in baskets as an alternate for Corylus stems.
Medicine Numerous uses
Hoary Manzanita Arctostaphylos canescens Eastw. Food Berries eaten
Hollyleaved Barberry Mahonia aquifolium (Pursh) Nutt. Dye Root used to dye porcupine quills yellow.
Hollyleaf Cherry Prunus americana Marsh. Food Fruit eaten fresh
Famine food Seed cracked, ground, leached, cooked, eaten
Incense Cedar Calocedrus decurrens (Torr.) Florin Building Wood and bark used as building materials
Weapons Used to make bows, arrows, clubs
Indian Plum Oemleria cerasiformis (Torr. & Gray ex Hook. & Arn.) Landon Food Berries eaten raw with wild currants.
Klamath Iris Iris tenax ssp. klamathensis Lenz Cordage Used to make cordage
Knobcone Pine Pinus attenuata Lemmon Decorations Nuts used for beads and ornaments
Meadow Deathcamas Zigadenus venenosus S. Wats. Food Bulbs used for food
Naked Buckwheat Eriogonum nudum var. pubiflorum Benth. Utensil Hollow stems used as straws
Food Sour young stems eaten as greens
Oregon Ash Fraxinus latifolia Benth. Tools Wood used for digging sticks
Oregon Oxalis Oxalis oregana Nutt. Food Plant eaten with dried fish
Oregon White Oak Quercus garryana Dougl. ex Hook. Food Acorns stored up to one year, ground, leached, cooked into mush, soup, cakes, bread
Pacific Dewberry Rubus vitifolius Cham. & Schlecht. Food Berries eaten fresh
Drink Young shoots boiled with other vine shoots into a tea.
Pacific Madrone Arbutus menziesii Pursh Food Berries eaten fresh or roasted, dried for later use
Drink Berried crushed for a refreshing drink
Toys Bark used by children as sleds
Medicine Numerous uses
Clothes Inner bark sewn together
Fishing Berries used as bait
Decoration Berries used to make necklaces
Pacific Red Elder Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa Food  Fresh berries used for food
Pacific Willow Salix lucida ssp. lasiandra (Benth.) E. Murr. Basketry Stems and young shoots used
Medicine Numerous uses
Pacific Yew Taxus brevifolia Nutt. Food Berries eaten
Weapons Wood used to make bows and arrows
Smoking Wood used to make pipes
Pale Serviceberry Amelanchier pallida Greene Food Berries eaten fresh and dried for future use
Pinemat Manzanita Arctostaphylos nevadensis Gray Food Berries eaten, dried and saved for later use, mixed with salmon roe and formed into patties and cakes
Drink Berries mixed with water
Medicine Numerous uses
Ponderosa Pine Pinus ponderosa P.& C. Lawson Food Nuts eaten, nuts dried, powdered, made into small cakes and eaten with a very thin mush made of grass seeds.
Basketry Roots and straight stems used
Port Orford Cedar Chamaecyparis lawsoniana (A. Murr.) Parl. Building Planks used
Red Alder Alnus rubra Bong. Basketry Roots and stems used
Red Huckleberry Vaccinium parvifolium Sm. Food Fresh berries used for food or dried and stored for later use
Tools Branches used as a broom
Rooting Chainfern Woodwardia radicans (L.) J. Sm. Basketry Dried fronds used
Roundtooth Snakelily Dichelostemma multiflorum (Benth.) Heller Food Raw bulbs used for food
Salmonberry Rubus spectabilis Pursh Food Young sprouts eaten with seaweed and dried eels, berries eaten fresh
Satal Gaultheria shallon Pursh Food Fresh fruit used for food
Scarlet Missionbells Fritillaria recurva Benth. Food Bulbs boiled or roasted in ashes and eaten.
Scouler's Willow Salix scouleriana Barratt ex Hook. Basketry Roots used to make baskets
Shinyleaf Currant Ribes cruentum Greene Food Fresh fruits used for food
Siberian Springbeauty Claytonia sibirica L. Food Shoot tops eaten raw
Sierra Mint Pycnanthemum californicum Torr. Medicine Decoction taken for colds
Sierran Currant Ribes nevadense Kellogg Food Leaves placed between seaweed patties to keep them from sticking and flavors the patties.
Sierran Gooseberry Ribes roezlii Regel Food Fresh berries used for food
Sitka Spruce Picea sitchensis (Bong.) Carr. Basketry Roots used to make the horizontal weave in coarse baskets used for drying foods in the smoke house.
Sitka Willow Salix sitchensis Sanson ex Bong. Basketry Roots used to amkebaskets
Small Camas Camassia quamash (Pursh) Greene Food Bulbs used for food
Sugar Pine Pinus lambertiana Dougl. Food Nuts eaten, sugar eaten as delicacy, pitch chewed for gum
Decorative Seeds used as beads
Tanoak Lithocarpus densiflorus (Hook. & Arn.) Rehd. Food Acorns stored up to one year, ground, leached, cooked into mush, soup, cakes, bread
Dye Bark used to dye baskets and fishing nets so the fish could not see them.
Thimbleberry Rubus parviflorus Nutt. Food Fruit eaten fresh
Toyon Heteromeles arbutifolia var. arbutifolia Food Berries eaten raw, cooked, or dried for later use
Watercress Rorippa nasturtium-aquaticum (L.) Hayek Food Young plants boiled and eaten
Western Chokecherry Prunus virginiana var. demissa (Nutt.) Torr. Food Fruit used for food
Western Columbine Aquilegia formosa Fisch. ex DC. Food Sweet nectaries inside the sepal spurs bitten off and savored mostly by the younger people.
Western Labradortea Ledum glandulosum Nutt. Drink Leaves simmered to make tea
Western Swordfern Polystichum munitum (Kaulfuss) K. Presl Misc. Leaves used for bedding
White Alder Alnus rhombifolia Nutt. Basketry Roots used
Fishing Fresh bark formerly chewed and used as a red dye to color fishermen's bodies for successful fishing.
Whitebark Raspberry Rubus leucodermis Dougl. ex Torr. & Food Fruit eaten fresh
Yerba Buena Clinopodium douglasii (Benth.) Kuntze Medicine Numerous uses
Drink Fresh leaves used to make a refreshing tea.
     Baker, Marc A. 1981 The Ethnobotany of the Yurok, Tolowa and Karok Indians of Northwest California. Humboldt State University, M.A. Thesis
     Holt, Catharine 1946 Shasta Ethnography. Anthropological Records 3(4):308
     Merriam, C. Hart 1966 Ethnographic Notes on California Indian Tribes. University of California Archaeological Research Facility, Berkeley