Lower Chinook and Clatsop
Traditional Culture
  Since Time Immemorial
Who's Who
Village Life
Inter-Village Relations
Seasonal Round
"Celiast" and "Ilchee"
Intertribal Trade Network
Canoe People
References Cited

  Contemporary Culture
Environmental History
Cultural History
Recommended Websites

  Relationship with U.S.
  Early Coastal Exploration
Strangers Arrive
Maritime Fur Trade
Fort Clatsop Winter
Overland Fur Trade
Disease and Burial Customs
Fisheries, Missions, and Settlements
Shrinking Land Base
Making Treaties
Recognition and U.S. Relations
References Cited

Image of José Cardero's drawing “Tetacú, chief of the entrance of Juan de Fuca”,
ca. 1792.

(See map at right for location of Straight of Juan de Fuca in relation to the Chinooks at the mouth of the Columbia.)
Courtesy the
Maritime Museum of British Columbia

“These dried clams are a great article of trade with the Indians of the interior, and quantities are annually carried from Shoal-water [Willapa] Bay up the Columbia” (Swan 1857:85).

drawn by James G. Swan (Swan:1857)
Clamon elkhide armor.
© Canadian Museum of Civilization, catalogue no. VII-X-1075, #S93-13487

“On our route down the Cowlitz we met several canoes going up well filled with salmon & trout to trade with those of Cowlitz for the Kamass root” (Wilkes 1926:28).

“The Columbia: A Great Mart or Emporium”

Click here for fur trader Alexander Ross's account of trade and activities on The Columbia, taken from: Alexander Ross, Adventures of the First Settlers on the Oregon or Columbia River, 1810-1813, vol. 7, p. 129.

Fort Clatsop > Culture > Intertribal Trade
Detail of dentalium from wedding veil ca. 1875, Klickitat tribe.
Courtesy Maryhill Museum of Art, Goldendale, WA
“There was a lot of contact between the two areas. In Chinook Wawa, or jargon, the language that I have learned, about seven percent of it comes from the west coast of Vancouver Island languages. We had a slave right here from the west coast of Vancouver Island. Those exchanges went on all the time.
 Northwest Coast

“We also traded with the Salish-speaking people from the Frasier River area. They have that really fine jade, or nephrite, a very fine hard green stone for adzes and that was the primary adze blade for making canoes or working house boards, or anything, here. And that was sold out of there in blanks to here and people have those still today here, that are directly from those blades, from up there in Frasier River.

Frasier River Jade Celt Chisel from Columbia River, 7.5".
Joel Castanza photo
“Dried clams and dried salalberry cakes were traded up river from here. We have a very well known kind of hide armor that was traded out of here. And that went up north, up the coast usually. I’ve rarely seen those before. But I have seen a really fantastic example of one that was found in Tlinget or Haida country. It was beautifully painted with an absolutely perfect power-figure design from this territory around the mouth of the Columbia River" (Tony Johnson interview: 2002).
Decorated elk hide body armor.
Field Museum, Chicago.
Read the description from the
display at the Museum.

© The Field Museum, #A104179_7


© Canadian Museum of Civilization, catalogue no. VII-X-1075, S94-13410

Chief Cliff Snider:

“... about the elk hides that they got here. They were called clamons, and they sent them all over the world, and nary an arrow could pierce those clamons. So, if they ever had a dispute or an argument with anybody they always had those as their protection.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization, catalogue no. VII-X-1075, S94-13411
“I must say, though, that the Chinooks primarily were not warlike. They were very peaceful, and they treated everybody well that came up and down the river, even though these people were very strange. Can you get the feeling of how they felt, when they saw these new people coming up and down their river? They felt that they were welcome, and they welcomed everybody, not knowing what was going to happen in the future" (Chief Cliff Snider interview: 2002).

Wapato roots were one of the main items traded from upriver to the Lower Chinooks. Lewis and Clark declared the wapato to be “the most valuable of all their roots," noting that it was foreign to the neighborhood of Ft. Clatsop.

Portion of Oregon Territory map (n.d.),
showing the “Wappatoo Valley"
Courtesy British Columbia Archives.


Background: Detail from clamon armor.
Image © Canadian Museum of Civilization,
catalogue no. VII-X-1075, (Add appropriate image no.)