Makah Cultural and Research Center Online Museum

Marine Gathering

The low tide beach and reef supplied Makahs with both food and materials.

One kind of mussel shell was large enough and strong enough for knives. Various clam shells made containers and dippers. Pectin could be strung as dance rattles; dentalia and abalone used for adornment. Opercula, the stout "doors" with which red turban snails close their shells, were decoratively inlaid around the rims of bowls and into the edges of benches and loom uprights. Kelp stems were dried and stretched for use as fish lines.

Men lured octopus out of hiding and speared them for food and bait. From canoes they speared large crabs. Women dug clams and pried chitons, mussels, limpets, gooseneck barnacles, and anemones off of rocks.

Twice a day at low tide, year 'round, such gathering was possible. The diversity satisfied a varied cuisine; the dependability eased problems of winter or of stormy periods impossible for halibut fishing. If salmon came late or the berry season was poor, if unexpected guests coincided with a time when the larder had run low, nobody needed to worry. The intertidal zone was dependently accessible, dependently productive.

Marine Gathering

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All content for this exhibit is © Makah Cultural and Research Center.

The Community Museum is a project of community organizations and Tribes across the Olympic Peninsula, and the University of Washington.
Support for the project comes from the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Preston, Gates and Ellis, LLP.