What Kind of Food Did the Kwakiutl Eat?



The Kwakiutl were a Native American hunter-gatherer tribe who subsisted mostly on shellfish and wild vegetation. They inhabited in the Pacific Northwest’s coastal regions.

Because of their location along the coast, the Kwakiutl were able to rely on the ocean as a constant food source. Salmon and herring were among the most frequent fish caught. Because of the weariness produced by swimming upstream, salmon might be caught in large numbers during the spawning season. Other sea life, such as seals and whales, as well as shellfish, were taken and eaten. When hunting huge marine mammals, the Kwakiutl employed harpoons, as well as a number of other methods to catch land and sea creatures. As a food source, seabirds and their eggs were also harvested. The Kwakiutl enhanced their fishing skills by killing moose and rabbits, as well as scavenging for berries and other edible flora on land.

The Kwakiutl people would shift to another area to forage for resources when resources in one area became scarce or it was off season. When fresh supplies were scarce, they used preservation techniques such as drying fish and other meats to create a surplus of food. Furs from otters, seals, and other large animals were traded with other tribes and visitors.

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