Volltext: Patterns of culture

VI 
The Northwest Coast of America 
THE Indians who lived on the narrow strip of Pacific 
seacoast from Alaska to Puget Sound were a vigorous and 
overbearing people. They had a culture of no common 
order. Sharply differentiated from that of the surrounding 
tribes, it had a zest which it is difficult to match among 
other peoples. Its values were not those which are com- 
monly recognized, and its drives not those frequently 
honoured. 
They were a people of great possessions as primitive 
peoples go. Their civilization was built upon an ample 
supply of goods, inexhausible, and obtained without 
excessive expenditure of labour. The fish, upon which 
they depended for food, could be taken out of the sea in 
great hauls. Salmon, cod, halibut, seal, and candlefish 
were dried for storage or tried out for oil. Stranded whales 
were always utilized, and the more southern tribes went 
whaling as well. Their life would have been impossible 
without the sea. The mountains abutted sharply upon 
. their shore territory; they built upon the beaches. It was 
a country wonderfully suited to the demands they put 
upon it. The deeply indented coast was flanked with 
numberless islands which not only trebled the shoreline, 
but gave great sheltered areas of water and protected 
navigation from the unbroken sweep of the Pacific. The 
sea life that haunts this region is proverbial. It is still the 
great spawning ground of the world, and the tribes of the 
Northwest Coast knew the calendar of the fish runs as 
other peoples have known the habits of bears or the season 
for putting seed into the earth. Even in the rare cases 
when they depended upon some product of the earth, as 
when they cut the great trees that they split into boards 
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