CHAPTER 3: The Coveted Pacific Coast
The Vikings of the North Pacific
A Series of Amerindian Nations
During their expeditions the Spanish sometimes had to use their muskets and cannons to keep the Amerindian at bay
(Click image to enlarge)
During the era of these first European explorations, the west coast was inhabited by a large number of small Amerindian nations who spoke various languages. To the north, in what is now Alaska, were the Tlingit. The Queen Charlotte Islands belonged to the Haida, whereas along the coast of the mainland, at the same latitude, were the Tsimshian. The land of the Nootka (also called Wakashan) extended to the south of Vancouver Island, and the Salish area included the eastern part of the island as well as some of the mainland along the coast. These peoples were both sedentary and navigators, and they lived in an area where nature was generous. Fish were plentiful and the coastline was covered in magnificent cedars, which the Natives used to great advantage, building houses out of planks and making canoes to hunt whale - for these were outstanding sailors and fishermen. Their art was indicative of a high level of cultural refinement.