The Hall of Northwest Coast Indians highlights the traditional cultures of the native peoples of North America’s northwest shores from Washington State to southern Alaska, including the Kwakwaka’wakw (referred to in the hall as Kwakiutl), Haida, Tlingit, and others.
The hall, which is the Museum’s oldest, opened in 1900 to showcase the collections and research of the Jesup North Pacific Expedition, led from 1897 to 1902 by Museum curator and prominent anthropologist Franz Boas, who is often called the father of American anthropology. Exhibits include examples of extraordinary woodcarving, a longstanding artistic tradition on the Northwest Coast, represented by the striking totem poles that line the hall as well as by smaller artifacts that range from the ceremonial masks of the Kwakwaka’wakw to the decorative pipes of the Tlingit.
The daily life of various tribes is presented through artifacts that include household utensils such as carved spoons and boxes, hunting and fishing tools, and cedar-bark garments common to the Northwest Coast. Models include illustrations of a late-19th-century Kwakwaka’wakw village and several types of salmon traps.