Coast Salish people & languages

January 16, 2014
Robin K. Wright

The term “Coast Salish” refers to a language family, including two dozen distinct languages and many dialects, and is used to indicate the cultural group of indigenous peoples who speak or spoke these languages.

The Coast Salish-speaking peoples have lived in what is present-day western Washington and southwestern British Columbia for more than 10,000 years. Their geographic territory includes the lands bordering the Salish Sea—Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands, Gulf Islands, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Strait of Georgia—as well as the Pacific coast of Washington and northern Oregon. Learn more about the ancient Coast Salish occupation of Puget Sound.

Each tribal group has its own name for themselves. Many tribal names today, such as Tulalip and Muckleshoot, refer to reservations where peoples from many different tribal groups have come together to live. View a list of the tribal group's websites.

View a map of the Coast Salish region and cultural groups (PDF).


Map of Coast Salish region and cultural groups

Adapted from Salishan Languages Map in Barbara Brotherton (ed), S’abadeb: The Gifts, Pacific Coast Salish Art and Artists. Seattle: Seattle Art Museum and University of Washington Press; 2008. xix.

Learn More

Continue reading Historical Coast Salish art or explore more Coast Salish art
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