Thousands of years ago, humans began to settle along the narrow strip of land that hugs the Pacific Coast from what is now southern Alaska to southern Oregon. It was a land of abundance. Fish and sea mammals crowded the ocean.
In spring, salmon left their ocean homes to swim up streams, where they were easily caught. The nearby forests provided berries, meat, and edible roots. The mild, rainy climate resulted in thick forests of evergreen trees, particularly cedars, which the people used to make shelter, clothing, and transportation.
The social practices of the region differed from those of other Native American groups in three major ways. First, it was the only culture in the Americas not influenced by the Maya and Aztec cultures of Central America. Second, the people developed an advanced lifestyle without practicing agriculture or making pottery. Third, food was easily available. So the people had time to spend on producing material goods. That’s why the people of the Northwest Coast were one of the few Native American groups to place importance on acquiring possessions.