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Salish Bounty: Traditional Native American Foods of Puget Sound

Salish Bounty: Traditional Native American Foods of Puget Sound connects archaeological and historical research about thousands of years of food traditions in the Puget Sound area to current efforts to revitalize these food traditions in the region. Salish Bounty was created in close partnership with members of the Native Coast Salish community, and features their history, voices, and efforts.

On display in Salish Bounty:

Salish Bounty explores three themes: "The Way Things Were," "Dispossession and Struggle," and "The Way Things Are." These themes cover the deep history of Coast Salish people and their highly developed cuisines, which express cultural values of respect, hospitality, community, and the environment of our region. Coast Salish diets are incredibly diverse—and always have been. Archaeological sites around Puget Sound have found over 280 plant and animal species used as food, and knowledge from elders has added even more food to this list.

This cuisine and its underlying values have survived major cultural shifts, from depopulation and loss of access to land and water, to intrusion into cultural practices, families, and communities. There is now a serious and energetic revival of traditional foods that incorporates new ingredients, new communication technologies, and regained access to land and water, but maintains the same cultural values.

Salish Bounty reminds us that food isn’t solitary; cooking and eating are things we do with other people that express our cultural history and values. Like others around the world, the revival of Coast Salish food traditions embodies the reestablishment of more healthful and sustainable practices that honor land and community.

Salish Bounty Co-curator Elizabeth Swanaset holds clams collected on a Puget Sound beach last summer. The clams were then smoked and preserved for winter use.
Photo courtesy of Warren King George.
Gilbert King George spear fishes on the White River during the “Fish-Ins” of the 1970s. Fish-in demonstrations in the 1960’s and 70’s were central to restoring tribal rights to fish in the “usual and accustomed places” guaranteed by treaties a century before.
Photo courtesy of Warren King George.