There are many Native American tribes still present in the U.S.A whose cultural aspects has changed in many ways, giving rise to concern from tribal people themselves and other community. Like every native tribe, the Lummi people had their own distinct culture before the arrival of Europeans and the Africans. The study of the culture of the indigenous tribes takes two phases which are demarcated by the arrival of Christopher Columbus in 1492. The culture of the Lummi in this paper is analyzed in the context of the pre-contact time to understand the effect that the entry of the Europeans had on the Lummi as one of the native tribes of Americans in the Pacific North West (Fisher, 2011). In essence, the pre-Columbus cultural practices of the Lummi are analyzed regarding the food that was consumed, tools and implements, language, types of shelter and the transportation used.
The residence of the pre-contact Lummi greatly influenced their cultural practices, and this applies to the food that they consumed and the means to obtaining it. Before the European arrival, the Lummi lived in the area that covers the modern day Puget Sound area in Washington State. They had established their residence near the sea and forests and thus these places served as their sources for food. The sea and majorly the freshwater streams provided seafood for the Lummi which consisted of crabs, shrimps, marine fish, and salmon (Boxberger, 1989). There was a large variety of fish to be obtained from the sea, and the freshwater streams and these contributed majorly to the subsistence diet of the Lummi. With salmon being their major source of food, the Lummi used the forest to complement their food sources by means such as the collection of plants and the hunting of waterfowl and mammals in the forest. In the pre-contact period, the culture of the Lummi regarding food was majorly dominated by the use of the sea and the forest as the major sources of food.
The culture of the Lummi in the pre-contact era largely revolved around salmon, and thus the tools and implements were focused on the capture of the salmon. Salmon was the major food source for the Lummi, and thus it affected the way of life of these people to the extent that it predominantly influenced their creativity. Since the migration of the salmon was cyclic, the Lummi had to adapt their tools and implements to this phenomenon and thus they developed a distinctive way of fishing that enabled them to collect a large amount of the fish. The reef-fishing method that was developed by the Lummi fishermen applied the tools which included the canoes, artificial reeds made from cedar barks, nettle fibers, and beach grass, and reef nets ("Reef-Net Fishing On Lummi Island, Washington"). Reef netting took advantage of these tools as they suspended the nets with the reefs to trap salmon which were on the migratory phase to spawning grounds. In a nutshell, the major tools and implements of the Lummi in the pre-contact period were the artificial reefs, the canoes and the seine nets that aided in the capture of salmon.
The language of the Lummi in the pre-contact period was the culturally unique Songish dialect of the Salish language (Kroeber, 1999). The Salish language is known to be spoken by a group of other northern tribes with the Lummi being one of them. The Songish dialect of the Lummi is characterized by Lummi names such as Hutatchi, Lemaltcha, Statshum, and Tomwhiksen. Despite the vast cultural modification after the contact with the Europeans and Africans, the language of the Lummi stands the test of time and is still spoken in modern-day America (Kroeber, 1999).
The way of life of the Lummi also affected the types of shelter that they developed. Historians reckon that the Lummi moved around the Pacific coast in times that coincided with the migration of the salmon (Stern, 1934). They subsisted in organized villages that were under leaders who provided direction for the economy. The villages of the Lummi people were made of the characteristic longhouses where they periodically stayed according to the migratory phases of the fish. Several families stayed in these longhouses, and these were made from cedar-planks from the coastal region of the Pacific.
The movement of the Lummi in the pre-contact period is largely as a result of their lifestyle. The Lummi were predominantly a fishing community, and their location near the Salish Sea aided this activity (Stern, 1934). They engaged their craft, and developed canoes which were not only aids to fishing but also a means of movement. Consequently, it is important to note that the canoe was the major transport mechanism that was developed by the Lummi in the pre-contact period (Stern, 1934).
The pre-contact culture of the Lummi as explained by historians revolved around the sea and mainly on their staple food, salmon. It influenced the development of their craft in developing the artificial reefs, seine nets, and canoes which doubled down as transport mechanisms. In their seasonal migration based on the presence of salmon, the Lummi stayed in villages which were made up of longhouses developed from cedar planks.
"Reef-Net Fishing On Lummi Island, Washington." Lummi-holidays.com. N.p., 2018. Web. 4 June 2018.
Boxberger, Daniel L. To fish in common: the ethnohistory of Lummi Indian salmon fishing. University of Nebraska Press, 1989.
Fisher, Robin. Contact and Conflict: Indian-European Relations in British Columbia, 1774-1890. UBC Press, 2011.
Kroeber, Paul D. The Salish language family: Reconstructing syntax. U of Nebraska Press, 1999.
Stern, Bernhard Joseph. The Lummi Indians of Northwest Washington. Vol. 17. Columbia University Press, 1934.
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