^*^*^*^*^*^*^*Umatilla and Nisqually Native American Tribes ^*^*^*^*^*^*^*

Living in one world a man must carry the world we live in. The Umatilla (Walla Walla) and Nisqually Tribes (Native Americans of Washington) are an example of decisions based on their lives. Needs (objects and skills mandatory for survival) and wants (objects and skills to make life easier) are how people live. Depending on who you are or where you live can really influence you to become who you are. In the Native American culture this was important. Living in an economic economy brings vital choices to the indians and others around them. Feel free to click on the Pictures for more information about the pictures.

Nisqually Indian Women
Nisqually Indian Women
Umatilla Indian Boy
Umatilla Indian Boy


Reed Tipi
Reed Tipi


The Umatilla lived beside one of rishest salmon fisheries in what today is called Northern Oregon and Southeastern Washington State, along the banks of the Columbia and Umatilla River. They traditionally inhabited the Columbia plateau region of the Northwest United States. The Umatilla occupied the territory along the Walla Walla river and along the junction of the Snake and Columbia Rivers. They speak the Sahaptin Native American Language. They are now located on the Umatilla Indian reservation, along with the Walla Walla Tribe and the Cayuse Tribe. The reservation has a land area of 271.047sq mi and a population of 2,927 people (of the 2000 census).


Umatilla Girl
Umatilla Girl

The needs of the Umatilla tribe include the basics; food, shelter, and clothing. Since the Umattilla Tribe is located on the Columbia Plateau of Washington State, they are nomadic, and have harsher weather then the Coastal Indian Tribe which is the Nisqually tribe. Clearly, the tribes differs.


The Umatilla depended heavily on fishing. They mainly gathered salmon, steelhead trout, eel, and strugeon from the Columbia River. After the acquired horses in the early 1700's, they then hunted buffalo. During fishing season every year, tribes form all over the Northwest and as far away as the Great Plains, come to the Columbia River to trade buffalo and dried fish.


The umatilla dressed in robes, vest, and aprons made of skins and furs. Women wore basket shaped hats woven from dried leaves. After they began to hunt buffalo, their clothing styles changed to resemble the leggings and dressings of the Plain Indians.

The Umatilla favored winter houses that are known as longhouses, which they built along the Columbia River in order to see the fish in the river. On hunting trips, they devised portable mat tepees, but they did not use buffalo skins, because their supply of buffalo skins wasn't very large.


The beliefs of the Umatilla involves animals and how the world has joined into being. The Umatilla believes in two creation. The first creation brought plants, animals,mountains, rivers, and lakes into being and the second creation brought Native people into existence. The coyote is a major Creation character in the people near the lower River upstream from the Columbia, in present-day eastern Oregon. Like many other Native Americans, they also believed that the world was created by the Great Creator. They believed that everything had a spirit, but the gift to speak was man's alone. Because of this, animals were treated with respect. This belief was called animism. In the past, they belived of gaurdian spirits, which gave each person a special power required about life.The most powerful gardian were heavenly, which were the sun, the moon, and the stars. Other spirts came animals, thunder, spirits, and other forces of nature. The religous feelings were expressed through a ritual called the Washat Dance. The dance marked the changes in the season and the rites of passage with feasts of salmon and roots.



Children began their training in adulthoodat about age 10. Boys would watch as older men hunted and fished, but were not allowed to participate until they were teens, because, "...an untrained person is an insult to his prey. (Benson,965)" Learning to ride horses, later, and to shoot bows, were nescisary. The girls, however, helped out, and learned how to do, household chores. They were taught by older women on how to cook, make baskets and clothing,and even personal hygiene.


All tribes, whether small or not, all across America, had a shaman, or "medicine man". He used rattles, herbs, and roots, among special chants and ceremonies, to heal tribal members of sickness. The headman and Shaman conffered closley, as he was "wise of the ways of earth", and also in close attune with Nature and the Great Spirit.


external image nisqually_circle_logo.gif

The Nisqually was a coastal tribe, who depended on the life giving rivers, streams, and other water sources to live. Their very climate made it possible to excel at meeting their needs and wants. Clearly,the Coastal tribe can differ from the Plataeu tribe even though they live in the same state on the other side of the mountatin range.
external image arhfish.jpg


The arival of the Nisqually had overchied thousands of years. The oldest known village was 5,000 years old. The ancestors of the tribes have been belived to have migrated northward from the great Basin when things has gone shaky and wrong. What's in a name? The name of the tribe was Nisqually, but the indians called themself the "squalli-absh" meaning "the people of the grass country, the people of the river". The indian named the grasses that grew in the vast lowlands prairies, "squalli". Since it was a custom for the tribe to name the river a geographical or natural identification, they called the stream the Squally River. They speak a subdialect of the Southern dialect of Lushootseed, which belongs to the salish family.


"The Nisqually people have always been a fishing people. The salmon has not only been the mainstay of their diet but the foundation of their culture as well. Because their ties to the Nisqually River have run deep throughout their lengthy and continuing history, it is of special value to examine their relationship with the river and its tributaries." a member of a tribe had said. The mainstay of their diet is Sockeye, a type of salmon, although the people fished for many other types. They also ate clams, oysters, camas root (a lily bulb), and berries (ex. huckleberries, juniper berries) that they dug or gathered in according seasons. The nisqually would hunt deer, elk, and bear when they were not in the fishing season, and they dried the meat to store up for winter. Arrow heads were used for hunting for the animals. They were also used for war. The arrow was used in bow and arrow and was used to strike onto the animals from afar. There are also spear heads.The spearhead was tied onto a spear and was trusted toward the animals to kill.


The Winter Village:
It was a prior to be located by fresh water. The second requirements was to be safe from the natural elements, which a cove located above a floodplain with a solid earthern backdrop for protection of chilly winds would be favored. A village consists of 2-3 cedar plank buildings,each measuring 30ft wide and 100ft in length. the houses were positioned to be protected from weather patterns and winds. Each structure could hold as many as eight (seperated or related) families. It was made up of longhouses. A single removable plank in the roof served as a smoke escape for the fires that were used for heat and cooking. An open doorway was sometimes covered with an exra weaving, or furs. The roof was made of fir or cedar boughs, and an opening in the center let out the smoke from the fire. When the fire wasn't lit, a covering was placed over the "chimney" to keep out rain, or anything else.
Summer Houses:
The Nisqually summer houses were temporary structures which were easily transported and quickly constructed as the tribe moved in their seasonal trek of food. Cattail matting, woven tightly to shield the rain, were carried from place to place. When settling, long slender poles were cut and fashined into a tipi-type frame and tied together at the top. The cattail matting was unrolled and hung in a fashion on the structure. The front was usually left open if weather permitted. Fir or cedar boughs and A-frames covered in boughs could be used as an emergency shelter or roof. Sweet grass, the appearence of a braid was put in homes to make the tipis smell better.


Clothing the Nisqually people wore were simple, yet effective. During warm summers, only a few requiremments were few. The clothing they wore for men was buckskin breeches. For women it was cedar skirts. Most of the clothing was made of cedar and buckskin, a type of fur and wore moccasins. Sometimes they went barefoot. Weather affect the clothing fashion a lot too. A few more wraps of clothing to beat off the mild fall weather but winter cold meant even more wraps must be added. Rain (happening very often) was shed by cedar bark garments and buckskin garments was worn for warmth. capes, Skirts, hats, and robes were used for women. Most of men's clothing were made of animals skins and furs. In winter they donned long-sleeved buckskin shirts and matching leggings, while in the summer they wore next to nothing. Buckskin capes are made with animal fur worn on the inside. This is making me warm! Fur hats were sometimes used instead of the usual cedar hats. Going bare foot was common, but when wearing moccasins, in winter they were lined with fur. The childrens' wardrobe was a miniature replica of the adults clothing. When a garment was torn or worn thin, it was mended, but when it came too soiled to be washed off in a nearby stream, they were thrown and were replaced.


Signs of wealth

Grass was woven and died to create woven grass beads.The more beads you had the more wealthier you appeared. they dyed it using different types of berries and other objects. The shell beads were also a sign of weath. Shell beads were white spotless shells that were picked upped and drilled to make jewerly. Signs like these objects showed signs of wealth by showing that they can afford the beads and shells and have the time to make the grass beads and jewerly. Although many people did smoke, it was a sign of wealth. Peace pipes, for the men, could be used to sort through arguments, and although rare-ish, squaws, also had smaller pipes through wich to smoke. However, since tobacco was a wealth signiture, pipes were used importantly and sacredly.


The tribe depended on water for food and health it was much more to them for that. Water was used for drinking, cooking and bathing and a variety of domestic, recreational and spiritual uses. The village was always established within a short distance of a freshwater source. Personal hygiene habits included a daily bath in the nearby stream when the weather permitted. Certain berries were used for soaps and shampoos. Bark and dried ferns were used for toweling and buffing the skin.
Utensils and soiled dishes were also carried outside to be washed. If a food item needed washing, it was placed in an open-meshed basketbag and rinsed in the creek. Water needed for cooking, however, was carried to the family hearth in a watertight basket and dipped out with a ladle. Hands were washed before and after a meal by dipping fingers in a water basket-bowl passed around for that purpose. Water was seldom consumed during a meal.
Water played an important port in the recreational life of the village members. Canoe races were carried on between individuals of the tribe as well as between tribal groups at get-together festivities. Every member of the family learned how to swim and the children spent many happy hours playing in the creek as they learned to swim and manage a canoe. The Nisqually River served as a highway to connect the many villages established on or near its banks, and recognizing the heavy forests that lined the shores of Puget Sound, it was often more expedient to send a messenger by canoe than a runner through the forest.
The river canoe was a flat-bottom, shovel-nose dugout canoe which was poled instead of paddled, while the salt water vessel was constructed with a sharp bow and stem to ride the rough waves sometimes found in the waters of Puget Sound.
Lastly, water contained spiritual powers. The significance of the steam bath and the subsequent bathing during purification rites denoted added strength and energy. The vision quest requirement that it must take place beside a moving stream expressed cleanliness of body to match the spiritualness of the occasion. Moving water was believed to be an energy force. Certain spring-fed streams were thought to have medicinal values used in curing, and were respected as sacred places and carefully protected for, indeed, the water did have curing qualities.


For Umatilla:

Benson, Sonia, ed. "Umatilla." The Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes-Volume III. 1999.

Wales, Jimmy, comp. "Walla Walla (Tribe)." Wikipedia. 10 Jan. 2008. Wikipedia Foundation. 10 Jan. 2008 <en.Wikipedia.org>.

For Nisqually:
Carpenter, Cecelia S., ed. "Nisqually People and the River." The Yelm History Project. 13 Feb. 2008 <http://www.yelmhistoryproject.com/Yelm/index.html
For pictures Please click on them for links and more information.
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