Nature Notes

Vol. III February 1, 1926 No. 15


To the east beyond the low crest of the Cascades were the Yakimas and Klickitats, and breed of lithe, upstanding, handsome men, great horsemen and famous runners, but who were, perhaps, too busy trying to eke out a living from a semi-arid country, to develop any remarkable crafts. These came into the high valleys each summer, the women to gather berries, and the men to hunt the goat, deer, elk, and bear that abounded, but never to make homes.

On the west, in the Puget Sound Basin, and toward the south, were tribes of an entirely different type - squat, flat-faced, canoe Indians who were not great hunters except for the whale and sea-lion, and who subsisted largely by fishing and digging clams.

These includes such tribes as the Nisqually and the Puyallup, with whom the first settlers on the Sound came into intimate contact, and the Cowlitz from the Columbia River basin to the south. These "Digger" Indians normally kept close to tidewater where living was without undue effort. Their huts were made of mats woven from rushes, their food largely sea-life, their implements fashioned from clam shells and the bark of the cedar, and their means of transportation dug-out canoes, hewn from the trunk of the western red cedar. Occasionally, they too, wandered into the high valleys to gather berries, and to dig roots.

Although, as has been said, the Redmen left little in the way of material evidence of their former occupation, names of Indian origin have been richly bestowed upon natural objects and places in the Park - a practice far more in keeping with the ideals of the National Park Service than that of bestowing the names of more or less obscure people, as so often happens.

A glance at the map reveals many such names as; Nisqually, Cowlitz, Puyallup, Sluiskin, Mowich, Tahoma, Owyhigh, Ollala, Ohanapecosh, and Wauhauksupauken, all Indian words or names.


It is still the practice of the local Indians to come each season into the open parks and gather the years supply of berries. Several varieties of huckleberries are abundant in the region, and these the (women) dry for the winters food supply. The Indian of to-day, however, has lost much of his former picturesqueness. Although the women still carry their papooses on their backs and use some wonderful native baskets, it is about as usual to see them arrive in closed cars as upon the traditional Indian Pony, and tho' many of them still employ the Chinook jargon, typical American slang phrases are as frequently heard.

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