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Below lists characteristics of the aboriginal life of the 13 tribes who moved to the Tulalip Indian Reservation:

Long Houses

  • Approximately 100 to 200 feet long;
  • Cedar planks split from tree trunks and smoothed with an adze;
  • Shed roof, sloping from one side of house to the other; roof boards located over fires were primarily adjustable to control the smoke escape;
  • Some divided across into rooms with doors that opened directly outside;
  • Platforms ran along the side for seating;
  • Shelves for storage located above platforms, reached by ladders;
  • Carved house posts;
  • Cattail mats hung on walls for insulation, put on floors for seating, hung as partitions and used for padded mattresses;
  • Open place down the middle of the house for walking;
  • Fires along the sides near seating platforms, shared by two to three families and used for heat and cooking.

Temporary Mat House

  • Primarily used in the summers when traveling on hunting or fishing expeditions;
  • Made from cattail mats over pole supports;
  • Mats made to be waterproof and overlapped to shed rain;
  • Mats provided quick way to make a house.


  • Canoes are distinguished by the shape of their hull and size.
  • The Trolling Canoe:
    • Designed for one person;
    • A swift canoe;
    • Light enough to be carried over distances;
    • Used for fishing and hunting ducks.
  • The Large Canoe (The West Coast Canoe):
    • Held six to 15 people;
    • Painted black on the outside and red on the inside;
    • Primarily used for traveling.
  • The Shovel-Nose Canoe:
    • Fast canoe with a flat bottom;
    • Bow and stern alike;
    • Commonly used for river travel and fishing.

Baskets and Mats

  • The hard basket was used for cooking food. Water and heated rocks were put into the basket with the food to be cooked.
  • The clam basket was an open weave basket that was used when clam digging, so that the clams could be washed in the basket
  • Berry baskets were made of cedar root and used for berry picking


  • Was made from deerskin. The hides were scraped, tanned, dried and rubbed. They were used for shirts, leggings and capes. Clothes of fur and capes of bearskin or sealskin were also made.
  • Cedar bark clothing was made from prepared cedar bark.
  • Caps of basketry, wolf, otter, beaver or bear skins were worn.


  • Were made from mountain goat wool or wooly dog hair. Sometimes, soft duck down feathers or fireweed were added.
  • Were made with carded, spun wool. Which was then woven on a standing loom
  • Uses were for bedding and clothing. Were highly valued


  • Hammer stone or stone maul: was made of stone and used for hitting the end of another tool and for grinding
  • Wedges: were used for felling trees, splitting planks off trees or splitting wood.
  • Adze: an axe-like tool made of wood and stone and used for carving wood


  • Fish: five kinds of salmon (spring, humpback, silver, dog, sockeye), steelhead, sturgeon, smelts, herring, flounder, trout, cod, rock cod, skate
  • Shellfish: clams, oysters, barnacles and crabs
  • Eggs: fish eggs from salmon and herring, bird eggs from pheasant, lark and duck
  • Meat: deer and elk meat
  • Berries: salmonberries, huckleberries, elderberries, salal berries, blackcaps, blackberries, wild strawberries, and wild raspberries.
  • Roots and bulbs: brake fern, wood fern, dandelion, cattail, camas, tiger lily


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