The Northwest Coast region is a strip of land, less than 150 miles wide, that
extends from the Alaskan Panhandle to present-day northern California. Mountains run the
length of this land, which is broken up by numerous inlets and islands formed by offshore
mountains. This temperate coastal area was so rich in natural resources that the development
of agriculture was unnecessary.
A northwest coastal village
Six different linguistic groups existed within the Northwest Coast region. Fishing was the
basis of their early economy. The Nootka people of Vancouver Island and British Columbia and
their Makah neighbors to the south specialized in whaling. Farther North, the Haida
and Kwakiutl (kwakeyUTl) people built their economy upon the abundant salmon, which could literally be picked
from the water during spawning.