Plants were, and still are, gathered for a variety of uses such as food, clothing, medicine, baskets, cordage and shelter. A Selection of Pacific Northwest Native Plants: Traditional and Modern Harvest and Use is a Jamestown S’Klallam Tribal publication that includes information, recipes, and photographs of a variety of native plants.
Stinging nettles were used as food, medicine and cordage. Today, nettles are considered a “superfood,” full of vitamins, minerals, protein and amino acids.
A broad variety of berries were collected and either eaten fresh, like strawberry, currant and Oregon grape, or dried like elderberry and salmonberry. Today, you are likely to find them used in pies, jams and syrups.
Thimbleberry and salmonberry are the first to bloom in the spring. The young shoots are considered an early spring delicacy, eaten raw or sautéed in oil. Traditionally, Native Americans ate them with fish or seal oil, but today we might sauté them in olive oil.
Western Red Cedar is perhaps the most important plant to the Salish peoples. The wood is used to carve canoes , to build longhouses, and for many other uses. It is naturally resistant to rot.
The bark is peeled and the outer bark removed, leaving the tender but strong inner bark, which is used for weaving baskets, mats and other soft goods. The roots are also used for weaving.
Learn more about traditional and current uses of Pacific Northwest native plants in the booklet:
A Selection of Pacific Northwest Native Plants: Traditional and Modern Harvest and Use.