Native American Photographs by Edward S. Curtis

Kwakiutl / Kwakwaka'wakw Indians

Kwakiutl Indian Photos by Edward S. Curtis

Tribal Summary

Dress

Both Kwakiutl Indian sexes wore a cedar-bark or fur robe with one or both shoulders covered. Men used no other garment, and frequently not even this. Women had also a narrow, knee-length apron of cedar-bark fringe or goat-hair cords. Water-proof capes and hats were made of bark. Moccasins were rare. Men wore the hair thrown back from the forehead and hanging down the back, and women arranged it in two braids. Ear-pendants and nose-rings of abalone-shell were used by those who could afford them.

Dwellings

The Kwakiutl house is constructed of cedar boards on a framework of heavy logs. The ridge extends from front to back, the roof-boards run from ridge to eaves, and the wall-boards are perpendicular. Until the middle of the nineteenth century the largest houses were about thirty feet square, six or seven feet high at the eaves, and nine at the ridge. A summer house to be occupied for a considerable time is made by transferring roof and walls to the frame that stands ready. Temporary huts are made of mats and poles.

Food

Dried and smoked salmon and halibut, clover-roots, silverweed roots, salalberries mixed with elderberries, purple laver, and oulachon oil are the staple foods.

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