|Regions with significant populations|
|United States (Washington)|
|English, Makah (survives as a second language)|
|Related ethnic groups|
The Makah ( // ; Klallam: màq̓áʔa) are an indigenous people of the Pacific Northwest Coast living in Washington, in the northwestern part of the continental United States. They are enrolled in the federally recognized Makah Indian Tribe of the Makah Indian Reservation .
Linguistically and ethnographically, they are closely related to the Nuu-chah-nulth and Ditidaht peoples of the West Coast of Vancouver Island, who live across the Strait of Juan de Fuca in British Columbia, Canada.
The Makah Indian Tribe own the Makah Indian Reservation on the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula; it includes Tatoosh Island. They live in and around the town of Neah Bay, Washington, a small fishing village.
The Makah people refer to themselves as Kwih-dich-chuh-ahtx (Qʷidiččaʔa·tx̌) which translates to somewhere near to "the people who live by the rocks and seagulls". Other thought translations include "the people who live on the cape by the seagulls", and "people of the point", as well as several others. Makah was a name given to them by others and means "generous with food".
Archaeological research suggests that Makah people have inhabited the area now known as Neah Bay for more than 3,800 years. Ancient Makah lived in villages, inhabiting large longhouses made from western red cedar. These longhouses had cedar-plank walls. The planks could be tilted or removed to provide ventilation or light. The cedar tree was of great value to Makah, who also used its bark to make water-resistant clothing and hats. Cedar roots were used in basket making. Whole trees were carved out to make canoes to hunt seals, gray whales and humpback whales.
Makah acquired much of their food from the ocean. Their diet consisted of whale, seal, fish, and a wide variety of shellfish. They would also hunt deer, elk, and bear from the surrounding forests. Women also gathered a wide variety of nuts, berries and edible plants and roots for their foods.
Much of what is known about the way of life of ancient Makah is derived from their oral tradition. Abundant archeological evidence excavated at the Ozette village site (see below) has provided great insight into the lives of Makah.
In the early 17th century, a mudslide engulfed part of a Makah village near Lake Ozette. The mudslide preserved several houses and their contents in a collapsed state until the 1970s, when they were excavated by Makahs and archaeologists from Washington State University. Over 55,000 artifacts were recovered, representing many activities of the Makah, from whale and seal hunting to salmon and halibut fishing. Artifacts included toys, games, and bows and arrows. The oral history of the Makah mentions a "great slide" which engulfed a portion of Ozette long ago.
Archaeological test pits were excavated at the Ozette site in 1966 and 1967 by Richard Daugherty.However, it was not until 1970 that it became apparent what was buried there. After a storm in February 1970, tidal erosion exposed hundreds of well-preserved wooden artifacts. The excavation of the Ozette site began shortly after. University students worked with the Makah under the direction of archaeologists using pressurized water to remove mud from six buried long houses. The excavation went on for 11 years.
It produced more than 55,000 artifacts, many of which are on display in the Makah Cultural and Research Center. Opened in 1979, the museum displays replicas of cedar long houses as well as whaling, fishing, and sealing canoes.
In 1834, a dismasted, rudderless ship from Japan ran aground near Cape Flattery. The Makah took the three survivors of the broken ship and held them as slaves for several months before taking them to Fort Vancouver. From there, the United States transported them by ship to London and eventually China, but they never reached Japan again.
On January 31, 1855, the select Makah tribe representatives signed the Treaty of Neah Bay with the U.S. federal government, ceding much of their traditional lands. The treaty required the Makah lands to be restricted to the Makah Reservation (atin Clallam County) and preserved the Makah people's rights to hunt whales and seals in the region. The Makah language was not used during the negotiation of the treaty, and the government used the Salish name for the tribe. Makah is an incorrect pronunciation of a Salish term meaning "generous with food".
In 1936, the Makah Tribe signed the Makah Constitution, accepting the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 and establishing an elected tribal government. The constitution provided for a five-member Tribal Council. Each year the council elects a Tribal Chairperson. The Council develops and passes laws for the Makah Reservation.
Tribal census data from 1999 show that the Makah Tribe has 1,214 enrolled members; some 1,079 live on the reservation. The unemployment rate on the reservation is approximately 51%[ citation needed ].
The Makah tribe hosts its annual major public gathering, Makah Days, in late August. It features a grand parade and street fair as well as canoe races, traditional games, singing, dancing, feasting, and fireworks.
Many Makah tribal members derive most of their income from fishing. Makah fish for salmon, halibut, Pacific whiting, and other marine fish.
Historically, the structure of Makah society is a class system; people in the middle or lower classes could gain better social status by marrying into the upper levels. The community was in mostly a cognatic descent structure.The Makah traditional family consisted of parents and children living in a particular area. Members of Makah families were ranked in society according to their relationship to the chief of the tribe. There were no stratifications in gender roles; both men and women were equal, participating in the hunting like whales, and other livestock. Although men were more fishermen and hunters, women's activities centered on gathering resources for the family.
Makah women chew the roots and leaves of Viola adunca while giving birth.
The Makah language is the indigenous language spoken by the Makah people. Makah has been extinct as a first language since 2002, when its last fluent native speaker died. However, it survives as a second language. The Makah tribe is working to revive the language, and has established preschool classes to teach its children.The endonymous name for Makah is qʷi·qʷi·diččaq. The Makah tribe linguistically belongs to the Southern Nootkan branch of the Wakashan family of languages among North American indigenous peoples. The Makah language, also known as qʷi·qʷi·diččaq (qwiqwidicciat) is the only Wakashan language in the United States. Other tribes speaking Wakashan are located in British Columbia, Canada, immediately across the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the west coast of Vancouver Island, and northwards as far as that province's Central Coast region. The article Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast contains more information on linguistic links.
Makah oral history relates that their tradition of aboriginal whaling has been suspended and re-established several times. Most recently, the practice was suspended in the 1920s because the commercial whaling industry had depleted the stocks of humpback and gray whales; all hunting was called off.
After the gray whale was removed from the Endangered Species List, the Makah re-asserted their whaling rights. With the support and guidance of the United States government and the International Whaling Commission, the Makah successfully hunted a gray whale on May 17, 1999. According to federal law, the Makah are entitled to hunt and kill one baleen whale, typically a gray whale, each year. Archaeological records and oral history indicate a significant number of humpback whales were historically hunted as well. The Makah had gone over 70 years without catching a whale.
The Makah whaling technique is difficult and labor-intensive. The men hunt from cedar canoes, each seating six to nine people and more recently, from small fishing vessels. They take these into the Pacific Ocean adjacent to their reservation territory. Various traditional criteria are used to determine the best whale to harvest. By counting the whale's exhalations, the hunters determine when the whale is about to dive, and determine from this the best time to strike. Approaching the whale's left side, the hunter strikes when the whale is 3–4 feet deep, to avoid the force of the whale's tail. The harpoon is 16–18 feet long, composed of two pieces of yew wood spliced together. Historically, hunters used a mussel shell tip, in conjunction with barbs from elk horns.
Since the late 20th century, hunters have used a steel "yankee style" head, but they have retained the yew wood shaft because of its flexibility, water resistance, and strength. Held fast to the whale, the harpoon shaft comes loose, to be recovered later, and a line is thrown from the canoe with seal skin floats attached, to provide drag to weaken the whale. In the past, a series of smaller lances were used to repeatedly strike the whale, gradually weakening and killing it, often over a period of hours, and in some cases, days. Recently, hunters have adopted use of a big game rifle after the harpoon strike, to ensure a more efficient kill. The International Whaling Commission permits four cartridges in whaling: .458 Winchester Magnum, .460 Weatherby Magnum, .50 BMG, and the .577 Tyrannosaur, which the Makah fired in the 1999 hunt.
Once the whale has been killed, a crew member called the "diver" jumps into the water and cuts a hole through the bottom and top of the whale's jaw, to which a tow line and float are attached. This holds the whale's mouth shut and prevents the carcass from filling with water and sinking. Hunters tow the whale to shore, where it is received by members of the village.
Traditional ceremonies and songs are performed to welcome the whale's spirit. Following this, the whale is divided in a precise and traditional fashion, with certain families having ownership of particular cuts. The "saddle piece" located midway between the center of the back and the tail is the property of the harpooner. It is taken to his home where a special ceremony is performed. The meat and oil are distributed to community members, and a great deal of it is consumed during a potlatch.
The Makah assert that their right to whaling is guaranteed in the 1855 Treaty of Neah Bay, which states in part: "The right of taking fish and of whaling or sealing at usual and accustomed grounds and stations is further secured to said Indians in common with all citizens of the United States."
On September, 2007, five members of the Makah tribe shot a gray whale using a .460 caliber rifle, similar to that used in hunting elephants, despite court-imposed regulations governing the Makah hunt. The whale died within 12 hours, sinking while heading out to sea after being confiscated and cut loose by the United States Coast Guard.The tribal council denounced the killing and announced their intention to try the individuals in tribal court.
Neah Bay is a census-designated place (CDP) on the Makah Reservation in Clallam County, Washington, United States. The population was 865 at the 2010 census. It is across the Canada–US border from British Columbia. Originally called "Scarborough Harbour" in honor of Captain James Scarborough of the Hudson's Bay Company, it was changed to Neah in 1847 by Captain Henry Kellett. Kellett spelled it "Neeah Bay". The name "Neah" refers to the Makah Chief Dee-ah, pronounced Neah in the Klallam language. During the summer months, Neah Bay is a popular fishing area for sports fishermen. Another attraction is the Makah Museum, which houses artifacts from a Makah village partly buried by a mudslide around 1750. Many people also visit to hike the Cape Trail or camp at Hobuck Beach. An emergency response tug is stationed at Neah Bay which has saved 41 vessels since its introduction in 1999.
Moclips is an unincorporated community and census-designated place (CDP) in Grays Harbor County, Washington, United States. The population was 207 at the 2010 census. It is located near the mouth of the Moclips River.
The Nuu-chah-nulth, also formerly referred to as the Nootka, Nutka, Aht, Nuuchahnulth or Tahkaht, are one of the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast in Canada. The term Nuu-chah-nulth is used to describe fifteen related tribes whose traditional home is on the west coast of Vancouver Island.
The Quileute, also known as the Quillayute, are a Native American people in western Washington state in the United States, currently numbering approximately 2,000. They are a federally recognized tribe: the Quileute Tribe of the Quileute Reservation.
The Quinault are a group of Native American peoples from western Washington in the United States. They are a Southwestern Coast Salish people and are enrolled in the federally recognized Quinault Tribe of the Quinault Reservation.
Indigenous whaling is the hunting of whales by indigenous peoples. It is permitted under international regulation, but in some countries remains a contentious issue. It is usually considered part of the subsistence economy. In some places whaling has been superseded by whale watching instead. This article deals with communities that continue to hunt; details about communities that have ended the practice may be found at History of whaling.
The Chimakum, also spelled Chemakum and Chimacum are a near extinct Native American people, who lived in the northeastern portion of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, between Hood Canal and Discovery Bay until their virtual extinction in 1902. Their primary settlements were on Port Townsend Bay, on the Quimper Peninsula, and Port Ludlow Bay to the south.
Wakashan is a family of languages spoken in British Columbia around and on Vancouver Island, and in the northwestern corner of the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state, on the south side of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Makah Reservation is an Indian reservation of the Makah Native Americans located on the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Clallam County, Washington, United States. The northern boundary of the reservation is the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The western boundary is the Pacific Ocean. It has a land area of 121.451 square kilometres (46.892 sq mi) and a 2000 census resident population of 1,356 persons. Its largest community is Neah Bay.
Tribal Canoe Journeys is a celebrated event for the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast. Indigenous Nations from the coast of Alaska, British Columbia, Oregon and Washington state participate every year. Canoe families travel in ocean-going canoes – many made of cedar, others made using more modern techniques and materials – and visit Native Nations en route to the final host destination.
The Makah language is the indigenous language spoken by the Makah. Makah has not been spoken as a first language since 2002, when its last fluent native speaker died. However, it survives as a second language, and the Makah tribe is attempting to revive the language, including through preschool classes. The endonym for the Makah is qʷi·qʷi·diččaq.
The Makah Museum also known as the Makah Cultural and Research Center is an archaeological and anthropological museum on the Makah Indian reservation in Neah Bay, Washington. It houses and interprets artifacts from the Ozette Indian Village Archeological Site, a Makah village partly buried by a mudslide at Lake Ozette around 1750, providing a snapshot of pre-contact tribal life. The museum includes a replica long house and thousands of artifacts of interest to academics and laypeople, including canoes, basketry, whaling and fishing gear.
In Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United States the term treaty rights specifically refers to rights for indigenous peoples enumerated in treaties with settler societies that arose from European colonization.
The Ozette Indian Village Archeological Site is the site of an archaeological excavation on the Olympic Peninsula near Neah Bay, Washington, United States. The site was a village occupied by the Ozette Makah people until a mudslide inundated the site around the year 1750. It is located in the now unpopulated Ozette Indian Reservation
The Peter Roose Homestead is a historic homestead in the U.S. state of Washington that was settled by Peter Roose, an immigrant from Bollnäs, Sweden, in 1907. Located in Olympic National Park, the site was added as a historic district to the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Edward Eugene Claplanhoo was an American Makah elder and former chairman of the Makah Tribe, located on the northwest tip of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. Claplanhoo was the first Makah to earn a bachelor's degree. Claplanhoo was the chairman of the Makah during the excavation of the Ozette Indian Village Archeological Site in the 1970s. He is credited with keeping the artifacts uncovered at Ozette in Neah Bay. Under his leadership, the Makah Museum, which houses the Ozette collection, was established at Neah Bay in 1979. He also established Fort Núñez Gaona–Diah Veterans Park in Neah Bay in 2008.
Richard Deo Daugherty was an American archaeologist and professor, who led the excavation of the Ozette Indian Village Archeological Site in Washington state during the 1970s. The Ozette Indian Village, which was buried and preserved in a mudslide in the 1700s, has been called "the most significant archaeological dig of the 20th century" in the Pacific Northwest. Daugherty collaborated closely with the Makah during the dig, which uncovered more than 55,000 artifacts.
Bender "Ben" Johnson Jr. was an American Makah politician and fisheries expert. He served as the chairman and member of the Makah Tribal Council from 1998 until 2000 and from 2001 until 2007. He was chairman of the Makah during the first successful hunt of a Pacific gray whale in 1999. The 1999 hunt, which took a 30-ton 30 1/2-foot female gray whale, was the first harvest of a whale by the Makah since the 1920s. Johnson supported the hunt, which drew worldwide attention and controversy.
The Ozette, also known locally as Makah Ozette or Anna Cheeka's Ozette is the oldest variety of potato grown in the Pacific Northwest region. This potato, of the petite heirloom fingerling type, was grown for over two centuries by the Makah tribe native to Washington and was "rediscovered" in the late 1980s.
Whaling on the Pacific Northwest Coast encompasses both aboriginal and commercial whaling from Washington State through British Columbia to Alaska. The indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast have whaling traditions dating back millennia, and the hunting of cetaceans continues by Alaska Natives and to a lesser extent by the Makah people.
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