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Whaling scenes were commonly woven into the designs of Northwest Coast baskets.


Northwest Coast Southwest Mississippi Valley Northeast Woodlands Plains

Introduction --
Makah Basket Label: Makah, Northwest Coast (United States), Basket, 20th century, Grass, Gift of Stanley H. Brackett 75.13.2
Makah man and woman with canoe
Makah man and woman with canoe. Courtesy: the University of Washington Libraries.

This trinket basket made by a Makah woman is decorated with a scene of whale hunting. The economy of both the Makah and Nootka people, who lived in the area of Vancouver Island off the Northwest Coast, was based on hunting whales. Meat, oil, and bone for all the people of a village came from whales.

Whale, I have given you what you wish to get - my good harpoon. Please hold it with your strong hands... Whale, tow me to the beach of my village, for when you come ashore there, young men will cover your great body with blue-bill duck feathers and the down of the great eagle.

- Makah Trible Song

Makah tribal web site:

Rattle Makah Basket Transformation Mask Native American History and Culture


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