The outer coasts of Washington and British Columbia are a wildly beautiful mix of soft sand beaches, hard rocky reefs, towering headlands and island-filled sounds.
Where the sea and land meet in turbulent conflict the waters are rich in animal and plant life, and in this spectacular setting the West Coast peoples have flourished for thousands of years. Pressed against the ocean by nearly impenetrable forests, they evolved a subtle, complex and dynamic maritime culture.
They were incomparable seamen, and of all the coastal peoples, they alone ventured to sea in pursuit of whales. The distinctive Nootka canoe developed into a graceful and seaworthy craft that was widely traded with their neighbours and admired by the first explorers on the coast.
Named "Nootka" by these early Europeans, the descendants of these great whalers are now officially called the Nuu-chah-nulth, and their related families on the west coast of Washington State are the Makah.