Friday, April 25, 2014


This Blog will be all about the Makah Culture.  The culture originates from Washington, United States.  This blog will talk about different topics to get into the details of the Makah cultures. The blog topics will include:

I hope that anyone who reads this blog will enjoy my journey through the Makah Culture!

Makah Music

     Music to the Makah Tribe is very special.  In the past Makah music was most important in ceremonies that would uphold the power and position of the chiefs, ceremonies for birth, puberty, marriage, and death, medicine and curing, hunting, secret society activities, whaling, fishing, games, warfare and recreation.  There is rules that are handed down to each generation about how to handle a song.
     In the past Makah people would teach the songs to the next generations by "Oral Tradition" which was singing the song so others could hear the song and learn it.  It also was the families responsibility to teach their children the songs and music traditions.  Each Family would own their own set of songs and pass those songs down throughout their family line.  One way the Makah tribe maintained a strong "singing tradition" was by having "Singing Sessions".  During these sessions the tribe members would gather at someones house and and spend the entire night singing the songs of the members who were there in attendance and also telling story.  This way the children were learning the songs while the adults were renewing the songs. 
    In today's time we have more technology so the children can learn the songs that have been previously recorded on tape recorders.  Although they still can use the oral method.  The elder members of the tribe enjoy teaching their grandchildren, they teach the children a little different then the parents.  The elders like to make the children ask questions and the elders will respond to those questions and teach the children the traditions.  As said in the past blog about the cultural survival, the Makah people sing these traditional songs at the annual Makah Days fair.  I would have liked to link a video of some tribal songs, but I couldn't find any online.  Ill post back if I have any luck in the future! 


  • "Makah Tribe (Neah Bay, Washington): Tribal Info, History and More."Makah Tribe. N.p., n.d. 
  • "Makah Indian Fact Sheet." Facts for Kids: Makah Indians (Makahs). N.p., n.d.
  • "The Makah People." Makah NALEMP Program and Accomplishments:. N.p., n.d.
  • "Natural and Cultural Resources of the Makah People." Makah NALEMP Program and Accomplishments: Natural Resources of the Makah People. N.p., n.d.
  • "Makah." Mr. Gessaman's Classroom Wiki -. N.p., n.d. 
  • "Native Languages of the Americas: Makah Indian Legends." Makah Legends (Folklore, Myths, and Traditional Indian Stories). N.p., n.d. 
  • "Makah Days - Makah Tribe (Neah Bay, Washington)." Makah Tribe. N.p., 
  • "Makah: About the Tribe - Makah Tribe (Neah Bay, Washington)." Makah Tribe. N.p., n.d.
  • Colson, Elizabeth. The Makah Indians; a Study of an Indian Tribe in Modern American Society. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1953. Print.
  • Goodman, Linda J., and Helma Swan. "Makah Music: Preserving the Traditons." Spirit Of The First People: Native American Music Traditions Of Washington State. Ed. Willie Smyth and Esme Ryan. Seattle: U Of Washington, 1999. 81-105. Print.
  • Erikson, Patricia P., Helma Ward, and Kirk Wachendorf. Voices of a Thousand People: The Makah Cultural and Research Center. N.p.: U of Nebraska, 2002. Print.

Makah Cultural Survival

     Many cultures today have problems with keeping their heritage alive and continuing their culture as the world around us changes.  The Makah tribe has no problem with that. The Makah tribe still practices their ancient heritage, hold dance practices, participate in canoe adventures, and teach the native language to their children. 
      Each year the Makah tribe hold an Annual Makah Days Fair.  During the fair the members of the Makah tribe who have moved away gather and reunite to celebrate thousands of years of the Makah Culture and also becoming U.S citizens.  They also include their neighbors from Washington State and Vancouver Island in Canada. Each year they hold the fair on the weekend closest to August 26th, the anniversary for when the first American flag was raised in Neah Bay.  They prepare an entire schedule of events where they combine new modern activities with their ancient traditions.  
     The more traditional activities include traditional dancing, war canoe races, and salmon bakes.  This bribe is very serious about keeping their culture alive for generations to come. I think by holding theses annual celebratory get together its a great way for new and old members of the tribe to reunite and keep the traditions going. Below I have included a video from one of the past Makah Days fair I hope you enjoy! 

Makah Days 2009 Snipe Dance

Monday, April 7, 2014

Makah Clothing

     The Makah people dress in regular every day clothing that is appropriate for their type of work.  The fishermen wear raincoats and rubber hip boots that they roll down to the knees.  The lumber camp workers wear great calked boots with overalls and heavy shirts.  For dress occasions the men wear suits.  
     The women wear clothing similar to neighboring areas.  They wear cotton house dresses that they order in bulk for everyone.  Their dresses can also be made from silk, rayon or wool when they have to go to special occasions.  High school students wear skirts and sweaters or slack suits.  
     The children wear overalls, slack suits, and cotton dresses.  Babies wear little dresses or knitted suits.  The Makah people do not dress very different from other cultures.  A few older women wear scarfs on their heads and shawls over their shoulders.  After the European influence some Makah people began wearing blanket robes instead of long headdresses that other tribes wore. 
      Some members have long hair and young girls are allowed to have their hair straight and loose at shoulder length, and others have their hair cut short and have it permanently waved.  Below are some pictures of Makah people in their usual Attire.


After getting into contact a representative from the Makah Culture Research Center I was able to reach out to a Makah Native.  His name is William he told me that he is a "sometimes artist" and that he has"been working on the halibut fishing gear for 8 yrs 8 months now. [he has] been trying to figure out a easy way on making the wooden halibut hook for the young people."  He is interested in keeping the culture alive in the new generations. He works with younger people of the tribe, he said" I still have two individual group/individual working on their wooden halibut hook. I do not push I let them go at own speed." He is interested in art but said, "I haven't gotten into the artwork totally but this year I am hoping to open up."  Regarding his artwork he said" Now I have to expand on how to express more for me. I have to sell my products, its different being new to this artwork." His stated other contributions like, "I have always harvested items for the basket weavers, I have made different things; cedar bark rope, stinging nettles fishing line, the whole halibut gear system." Overall it was a great interview and I was really excited that after all this researching I've done about this culture that I was actually able to speak to someone from the culture! 

Makah Migrations and Diaspora

     The Makah people have confusion about their background of Emigration.  During parties it is common for the older generation to argue about when the first ships appeared and members voyaged out of the reservation, where did they go to? Some say south of California to serve as seal hunters or the Hawaiian Islands, also they think they were taken to China and Japan.  On and Near the Reservation members moved to the Hudson Bay Trading Post on Vancouver Island to trade seal furs, whale oil, and fish. 
      Families also moved by the Strait of Juan de Fuca to work in the salmon canneries.  Other Members moved to eastern Washington to work in the hop fields, where others moved to Seattle to work in the lumber camps.  It is said that during the summer season Neah Bay was almost completely empty until the winter months. 
      In the book "The Makah Indians" it says that "at least 56 of the 104 men and 53 of the 99 women over the age of 25 have lived away from the reservation".  Some members went to Portland, Bellingham, Yakima, and California, but mostly these members only moved temporarily and came back to the reservation.
      Most of the older members of the tribe will never leave Neah Bay.  The new generations will most likely move to areas around the reservation or attend schools at other places in the United States much like young people today.  Stay tuned for my next blog post about a interview I had with a Makah tribe member.