Makah Cultural and Research Center Online Museum

Sea Lions

Seal skin floatFour members of the seal family swim Makah waters: sea lions, which are the largest; fur seals; elephant seals, not present in great numbers; and hair seals, common year-round. Of these, the fur seals were preferred - and so rich was the environment and so skilled the hunters that Makahs could afford to be selective.

Sea lions and hair seals are the only two to haul out onto shore in numbers at this latitude. There, men sometimes surprised them; they also hunted them from canoes. Some hair seals were skinned by drawing the hide over the head without slitting, except at neck, flippers and vent. These skins were used for the whaling floats. Oil from both hair seals and sea lions was valued, and seal meat was eaten (but not sea lion meat, which tastes bitter). Sea lion gut furnished material for bowstrings, and the stomachs served as containers.

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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.