Thousands of years ago, humans began to settle a thin strip of land along the Pacific Coast. It ran from what is now southern Alaska to southern Oregon. It was a land of plenty. Fish and sea mammals filled the ocean.
In the spring, salmon left their ocean homes to swim up streams. Then it was easy to catch them. The nearby forests were full of berries and roots that could be eaten. The mild, rainy climate created thick forests of evergreen trees. Many of those trees were cedars. The people used these trees to make shelter, clothing, and transportation.
The social lives of the people who lived in this area were not like those of other Native Americans. There were three big differences. First, it was the only culture in the Americas not influenced by the Maya and Aztec cultures of Central America. Second, they formed a complex society without growing plants. They also made no pottery. Third, food was easy to get. So they had more time to make things. That’s why the people of the Northwest Coast were among the few Native American groups that thought owning things was important.