Makah Cultural and Research Center Online Museum

Plant Gathering

Root DiggerForest and clearings, marshes and lakeshores served as garden and warehouse. Makahs picked and dug and gathered not only plant foods and medicines, but also raw materials. From Ozette have come burden baskets used for the harvest. Tumplines are still attached and contents in place, including pieces of broken slate knives used for cutting bark, roots, and stems.

To use plants, women had to know what the various species offered, exactly where to gather them, at what season, and how to prepare and store what they had brought in. With this expertise they supplied their families' needs.

Strips of cherry bark were ideal for binding tool handles and sinew rope. The bark stretches when wet, shrinks when dry. Cattail fluff could be added to dog wool, then spun into yarn. Cedar bark made excellent basketry material. Cedar and spruce roots and boughs were twisted and braided into cords and ropes, used for everything from tying bundles and fishhooks, to securing whales.

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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.