Foods of the Plateau

Plateau tribes such as the Cayuse, Coeur d’Alene, Colvilles, Kalispels, Klikitat, Kootenai, Lillooets, Modocs, Nez Perce, Okanagons, Salish, Sanpoils, Sinkiuse, Spokan, Thompson, Umatilla, Yakima ate salmon, trout, whitefish, mollusks, camas bulbs, wild waterlily seeds (used for flour), berries, deer, elk, antelope, moose, bears, rabbits. Colville and Sinkiuse males fished for four types of salmon from May to October, while the women cleaned them. They normally acquired enough fish to dry and store for the winter.

The Kalispels built canoes with "sturgeon noses." They caught salmon during the runs, but also consumed squawfish, suckers, trout and whitefish and dried or smoked all for winter. They hunted bear, deer, elk and moose in fall, along with smaller game such as beavers, ducks, geese, and rabbits. Flora consisted of bitter root, onions, and couse, or kowsh, root. Bitter root was also used to treat upset stomach. Camas, a starchy root, was and still is an important food. The tribe also foraged for fruits and nuts such as blueberries, chokecherries, hazelnuts, huckleberries, pine nuts, and raspberries. Fruit was dried for winter use.

Taken from Devon A. Mihesuah, Recovering Our Ancestors’ Gardens: Indigenous Recipes and Guide to Diet and Fitness (University of Nebraska Press, 2005)