Tribal History and Traditions

A tribe was observed in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest during the mid-1800s by a group of Americans who had recently arrived from the San Francisco Bay area. There were four main groups that comprised this tribe: Two hundred fifty members were originally recorded as living in Oregon, but there were actually nearly one hundred and fifty thousand Tlingits living along the Pacific Coast in present times. These tribes were also known to live in Alaska and British Columbia.  fotoThis tribal group was originally a band of hunters, and they used creative and very illustrative words for specific types of game. Tlingit is an archaic word for "hunter". They hunted fish, birds, and insects by trapping, stalking, hunting, and supplemented their diet by eating wild plants and roots. The Tlingits were also very proud of their tattoos and markings. These tattoos included tribal stars, suns, and a sun with a bow and arrow. Many tribes also used masks of different animals or birds, and feathers as part of their tattooing.

Hunters and Scavengers

The Tlingits were originally hunters and scavengers, and many tribes of these people still hunt today. They have a lot of skill and are very knowledge regarding the environment and their place in it. This helps them to understand the role of the Earth and how to preserve it. The Tlingits were extremely resourceful, and many tribes of the Tlingits made their living by trading items with other tribes. This helped them survive in the harsh environments they lived in. I mean it's not like they could get Starbucks delivered or anything. Their means of survival included farming, trading food, and creative methods of obtaining supplemental resources, trading with anyone. There are oral stories passed down that the tribe had been at war with the Klamath Indians, the Chehalis Indians, and the Yakama Indians for several years. These conflicts continued until the Tlingits finally succeeded in defeating these rival tribes. There is some definititve information over at In fact, they won this fight after many battles and were the first American Indian tribe to become fully independent. They then formed a government for themselves, which predates the US government.

Culture and Symbols

The tribe was a strong community with a wide network of friends and family. Many of them met their spouses while they were still in their youth. This gave them the ability to develop meaningful relationships with other people.  artworkThey were quite social in their day-to-day life, and they felt a sense of camaraderie with everyone they met. Their tribal symbols, colors, and culture have remained virtually the same. They were originally called "tongues" in the Tlingit language, but now are known as just "the tingits". Their tattoos are remarkably similar to those of their American Indian ancestors. Many people from outside the tribe were taken as slaves during the period of the European settlement in Alaska. These people were forced to work in mining operations, logging, and farming. This was part of the way the European settlers of Alaska, including the British, controlled the Native American tribes. The Tlingits were often used to help clear areas that were difficult to grow crops, and create land for farms. Some Tlingits did marry mainland American Indians during the period of the early settlement. These marriages were arranged by their American Indian spouses.  artOthers were even forced into marriages by their European settlers during this time period.


There are a number of stories about the Tlingits' history, their tribal symbols, and even their name. The most important ones include the story of their first campfire, their battle against the Chehalis Indians, and their first contact with the United States government. Some say they were the ancestors of the Umpqua. Today, the Tlingits are still fighting for their right to continue the traditions and practices they have been practicing since they left their home. They have formed a governing body to maintain and protect their culture, traditions, and ways of life. They are very independent, very knowledgeable, and very strong.