Kwakiutl women gathered plants, herbs and clams and did most of the child care and cooking. Men were fishermen and hunters and sometimes went to war to protect their families. Both genders took part in storytelling, artwork and music, and traditional medicine.
Their climate was bountiful so food was plentiful. The Kwakiutl ate fish (mostly salmon ), bear, caribou, deer, elk, moose, clams, berries, seal, sea lions, whales, and other assorted sea critters. Kwakiutl art was totem poles and copper jewelry.
The Kwakiutl lived in coastal villages lying close to the shoreline. Each of their rectangular house had a totem pole on the front, a heavy timber frame and were made of cedar planks, and roofs were made of wood bark. The typical Kwakiutl house was up to 100 feet long and housed up to 50 families!
Kwakiutl artists are known for their fine Native American basket and woodcarving arts, including wooden mask and totem pole carvings.
Much of their food came from the forests and rivers. Trees were a major resource for the Kwakiutl. The Kwakiutl hunted in both the rivers and the forests. They ate beaver, deer, rabbit, and fish.
Their name for themselves means “those who speak Kwakwala.” Although the name Kwakiutl is often applied to all the peoples of that group, it is the name of only one band of Kwakwaka’wakw.
The Kwakwa̱ka̱ʼwakw (IPA: [ˈkʷakʷəkʲəʔwakʷ]), also known as the Kwakiutl (/ˈkwɑːkjʊtəl/; “Kwakʼwala-speaking peoples”) are Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Their current population, according to a 2016 census, is 3,665.
The beings that make up Kwakiutl mythology are remarkably diverse. Many contemporary Kwakiutl identify themselves as Christians but incorporate traditional mythology into their faith, freely blending elements of Christian and indigenous religion.
They travel on water and land for land they walk and ride horses for water they use canoes made out of cedar logs. They use canoes to go on water to go fishing,trading,hunting,and warfare.
Kwakiutl artists are known for their fine basketry and woodcarving arts, including wooden masks and totem carvings.
Masks are highly valued by the Kwakiutl, serving as potent manifestations of ancestral spirits and supernatural beings and offering these supernatural entities temporary embodiment and communication through dance and other kinds of performance (Greenville 1998: 14).
The Kwakiutl people’s history in the region reaches far back–these Native Americans have been living in the Pacific Northwest for around 9,000 years.
In general, the 1850s and 1860s were terrible years for the Kwakiutl, marked as they were by the destruction of several villages by the British Navy and Bella Coola raiders as well as smallpox epidemics.
These include the Blackfoot, Arapaho, Assiniboine, Cheyenne, Comanche, Crow, Gros Ventre, Kiowa, Lakota, Lipan, Plains Apache (or Kiowa Apache), Plains Cree, Plains Ojibwe, Sarsi, Nakoda (Stoney), and Tonkawa.