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Cultural Resources


Cowlitz Indian Tribe

Cultural Resources

The role of the Cultural Resources Department is to strategically support the Vision and Mission statements of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe:

Vision: We the Cowlitz are the forever people; who strive to stay connected to our land, water and Tamaniwas to achieve a healthy, prosperous community for all generations.

Mission: The Mission of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe is to preserve and honor the legacy of our elders and ancestors by empowering a Tribal community that promotes our social justice and economic well-being, secures our aboriginal lands, respects our culture and sovereignty and fosters justice, freedom and our mutual welfare.

…most formally outlined in Goal 7 of the Tribe’s Comprehensive Plan (2019-2023): 

Preserve, Protect, Recover and Grow Tradition, Culture, and Language to Promote Cultural Identity

Innumerable aspects of traditional Cowlitz culture arise from the landscape, and the region has been home to the Cowlitz People since time immemorial. The rich resources of the landscape have been managed for thousands of years by the Cowlitz, enhancing the reciprocity between each resource and harvester, enabling the Cowlitz People to flourish as they continue to steward the landscape with their complex traditional culture.  The seasonal round of resource acquisition establishes the annual cycle of where the people travel, in what sequence, and at what time of year.  Woven throughout traditions of resource gathering is the heritage of how and when families come together, ceremonies are held, and memories are recounted.  The stories, a spoken history thousands of years deep, are powerful lessons in the telling – rooted in the past, but offering guides for how the people should come together and live in the future, and modeling important values of ethics, integrity and reciprocity.

The Department’s core undertaking is to support all cultural functions of the Tribe. The Department serves as a cultural liaison between regional agencies, organizing interviews with Tribal members, while also providing feedback on functions and displays. The Department responds to the constant call of community outreach and awareness about the landscape. We are currently partnering with Washington State University Vancouver to develop a curriculum for 23 surrounding school districts in need of Indigenous curriculum. Culture Dept. staff review development permits, ensuring that any sensitive heritage and archaeological sites are not disturbed by proposed projects. The Department constantly works to acquire and archive all historic Tribal governance documents. Overall, the Culture Department serves both the Cowlitz Indian Tribe and the surrounding community to ensure that the Cowlitz culture is honored, shared and properly portrayed throughout the region. 

Frequently asked questions

About Program?


Build your Cowlitz Coast Salish vocabulary with the Cowlitz Indian Tribe's FREE vocabulary game for your Apple and Android devices!

With over 300 words and phrases, you can quiz yourself every day to learn and unlock new words in different categories. 

COW VB FeatureGraphic 121720 1

Download the app to your mobile devices by clicking the link or scanning the QR Code


Cowlitz Language App for Android

 Apple Store 

Cowlitz Language App for Apple

If you have trouble hearing sound, please ensure your volume is turned up and that your phone's ringer is physically turned on and not set to silent.

cowlitz lw bumper sticker

The first Cowlitz Coast Salish Language Weekend was held on October 24th & 25th, 2020 with approximately 25 Cowlitz members in attendance virtually. Valuable participant feedback was provided to TLC, here are some direct quotes: 

“The staff is well educated in the language and did an excellent job in teaching. Thank you.”

“More accessible materials to reference after the event :) otherwise, this was wonderful!”

“This was an amazing opportunity for me, thank you!!! I feel the content of the class was excellent and very well organized.”

As the Tribe enters its second year of contracting with TLC please check out this page for announcements and upcoming events regarding Cowlitz Coast Salish.

Year 2 Deliverables include:

  • 3 picture books and a media player app that will read the picture books allowed.
  • An online Cowlitz Coast Salish dictionary as well as a dictionary app.
  • Two Language Weekends and one youth Language Weekend.


To view the October 2020 Cowlitz Coast Salish Language Weekend Videos you will need to have your Cowlitz Vimeo Video Portal username and password to login.


If you do not have a login please go to the video portal access request form. 

Ohanapecosh Campsite

Cowlitz Tribal members may now book reservations for tribal campsites in our own special section of the campground.

Ohanapecosh, or áwxanapayk-ash in Taytnapam Upper Cowlitz language, translates as “standing at the edge-place”, and refers to the cliff edges of the bedrock gorge through which the Ohanapecosh river flows.

Ohanapecosh Campground, on the southeast side of Mount Rainier National Park, is surrounded by an old-growth forest and crossed by an exceptionally beautiful snow-fed river. Close to Ohanapecosh are popular hikes to Silver Falls and the Grove of the Patriarchs.

The main attraction at Mount Rainier National Park is the mountain itself, a glacier-clad volcano of immense proportions. At 14,411 ft., it dominates the skyline for hundreds of miles. Visitors travel through majestic old-growth forests, past tumbling waterfalls and historic buildings to reach sub-alpine meadows, where world-famous wildflower displays are seen in July and August. Popular activities in the park include sightseeing, hiking, climbing, and camping.

Ohanapecosh campground has an elevation of 1,914 feet. The weather is dry, cool, and sunny in the summer with daytime temperatures in the 60 to 80-degree range. Even though the eastern side of the park can be sunnier than other areas, weather can be variable and visitors should come prepared.

Click this link to go to the full website or book directly by clicking the site choice below.

Program Resources

Huckleberry Gathering


Huckleberry Gathering Support Applications:

Due to the overwhelming positive feedback we received last year, we are offering 100 awards of $125 for Cowlitz citizens to support the traditional practice of huckleberry gathering. Awards are to be given in a corporate gift card that may be redeemed for fuel, food, or supplies. The Tribe’s intent is for family groups that are already operating as small social circles to be individually supported.

CLICK HERE for the GWE Form

CLICK HERE for the application form

Huckleberry Gathering Tips & Programming

Smartphone Mapping App for Gatherers

Camping in Gifford Pinchot National Forest


HuckleberryGather 2 2020 Thinleaf huckleberries (known as wɘnáy’x̣ in Lower Cowlitz Salish and wíwnu in Upper Cowlitz Taytnapam) are the most desired species of mountain huckleberries and typically grow in open berry fields above 3800’ elevation.

For thousands of years, Indigenous People from all across what would become known as the Pacific Northwest of North America have traveled long distances up into the mountains to pick and dry these berries, preserving them for many months to come. Before the arrival of colonial communities and forest management practices, these berry fields were regularly burned to keep trees from growing into the fields and shading berry production.

The ancient knowledge of how and when to burn was an important resource management tradition. Berry-picking sites were annual locations of family reunions and celebrations, and they remain honored places today.


The Cowlitz Tribe knows that the Berries need the People, just as much as the People need the Berries, and is pleased to be able to adaptively offer this support to Cowlitz Families.

In 1955, Taytnapam elder Mary Kiona offered a deposition in the Cowlitz Indian Tribe’s land claim case.  She was asked, where were the high huckleberry patches? She responded (interpreted by Howard Ike) with,

“Higher places.  On the higher ranges they had patches, the Tatoosh range, up there, and every now and then they would burn such a small area in there so that the huckleberries would grow, and on south and north of there, somewheres along them Cascade ranges, they used to make a small burn.  And until some time ago when the white man came, why, they couldn’t on account of fire, forest fire hazard and stuff like that.  So since then the huckleberry patches have disappeared almost completely from the Cowlitz land today.  Now she has to go way out to pick berries, as far as into the Yakima country, up in Potato Hill, if she has to have some huckleberries.  Because she has to have it on account there is a lot of food white people eat she doesn’t seem to care for and it doesn’t agree with her.”

The annual calendar of the Cowlitz People was organized into seasons based upon the annual sequence of resource availability within ancestral lands. The People held deep knowledge of specific locations within the landscape where resources could be found, and traveled to those places to harvest and process resources at the specific times when they knew those resources would be most available. The traditional seasonal round was a method of maximizing resource acquisition, while minimizing cost.

Resource-harvesting and processing camps were frequently set up in the same location every year so that material supplies could be staged or stored at the site. Entire families would travel throughout their landscape from encampment to encampment, returning in Fall to their cedar plankhouse villages along lower elevation rivers during the coldest months of the year.

The resource-based round followed this general sequence:


Curtis (1913) described the Seasonal Round of the Cowlitz Tribe in the following way:

"An outline of the seasonal occupations of the people affords a good conception of the manner in which they subsisted. About the first of May they abandoned their permanent winter villages and erected in the prairies at the root-digging grounds mat lodges of the same type as their cedar-board houses. Two months later, having harvested and cooked or dried their roots, they moved up into the hills where berries grew abundantly. Late in August close watch on the height of the water in the river was kept by young men dispatched from time to time on this errand, and when, usually about the first of September, it was sufficiently low to permit the construction of weirs, the chiefs issued commands to their people, who set out for their respective villages. Here the women cleaned and renovated the houses, the families moved in, and soon all were busily engaged in building the fish-weirs, of which some of the larger villages controlled two while the majority were served by one each. Weir fishing continued until the freshets caused by early winter rains forced the removal of the timbers and poles, which were carefully laid away for next season’s use.  Throughout the winter and the early spring, the salmon were taken by spearing in the smaller streams. The fish were preserved by hanging them on poles in the house and building a number of small fires beneath them. Like all tribes living on streams near the mountains, the Cowlitz were good hunters and followed the deer at all seasons."

Reference: Curtis ES, 1913, The North American Indian, Vol. 9 The Salishan Tribes of the Coast, Cowlitz, pp 5-6

 Description of Kaktsamah:

Kaktsamah – Cowlitz (The North American Indian, v. IX. Norwood, MA: The Plimpton Press, 1913)BY: EDWARD SHERIFF CURTIS - USC LIBRARIESCurtis interviewed Cowlitz Indian Kaktsamah circa 1912. She was also known as Esther Millet and was about 77 when she was interviewed. In 1906 she gave a statement to Charles McChesney, noting, "My father was Wa-wha-ho-wa, and he was a Cowlitz Indian and he is dead. My mother was Karmele, who was a Kathlamet Indian Woman, and died about 49 years ago."
Kaktsamah reported she was born at the Cowlitz village of Wiyamitih ("Long Riffle"; approx Cowlitz River Mile 19, between Castle Rock WA and the mouth of the Toutle River), where there were about 20 houses. At the time of her 1912 interview with Curtis, she was living with her husband Sam Millet in Bay Center, WA. Sam died in 1913 and Kaktsamah passed away on March 18th 1920, leaving their daughter Emma (Millet) Luscier as heir.

Ordering Eagle Parts & Feathers from

National Eagle Repository

For hundreds of years, Native Americans have used eagle parts and feathers for religious and cultural purposes, including healing, marriage, and naming ceremonies. Recognizing the significance of eagles to Native Americans, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) established the National Eagle Repository (Repository) in the early 1970s to provide Native Americans with the carcasses, parts and feathers of Golden and Bald eagles for religious purposes.

Only enrolled members of Federally recognized tribes who are 18 years of age or older may apply to receive and possess eagle carcasses, parts, and feathers from the Repository for religious purposes.

For first time applicants:

  1. Fill out Form 3-200-15A (Permit Application and First Order Request ) - Online at:
  2. Have your tribal enrollment office fill out the “Certificate of Enrollment in a Federally Recognized Tribe form”.
  3. Submit all documentation to the permit office designated for the state you live in.
  4. The permit office will process your permit application and, if approved, issue you a lifetime permit to possess eagle carcasses or parts (including feathers) provided by the Repository for religious purposes.
  5. The permit office will forward your First Order to the Repository for processing.
After your first order has been filled, you will submit all Reorders directly to the repository. You may only have one pending request on file at any given time.

For Reorders:

  1. Fill out Form 3-200-15B (Re-order Request) - Online at:
  2. You do not have to have your tribal office fill out another Certificate of Enrollment.
  3. Submit completed form directly to the Repository.
  4. A blue postcard acknowledging your request was received will be sent to you within 2 weeks. It is a notification only and there is no need to contact the repository.
Please contact the permit office if you need to change the name or address on your permit or request a copy. You may only have one pending request on file at any given time.
  1. Up to one whole Golden or Bald eagle or equivalent parts.
  2. Loose feathers.
  3. A pair of wings
  4. A whole tail
  5. A head, pair of talons, or trunk.

You may not order more of any part than is found on one whole eagle.

There are two types of loose feather requests. You may only request one or the other but not both and the Loose Feathers cannot be added to a whole bird, pair of wings, or tail order.

10 Quality Loose Feathers:

  • These consist of 8 wing feathers and 2 tail feathers.
  • Hand- picked.
  • No more than 2 tail feathers will be provided per order, due to limited supply.
  • Wing feathers will be selected half from the left wing and half from the right wing, unless specified all from one side.
  • Spike feathers will be utilized.
  • Efforts are made to match the best quality feathers available.

20 Miscellaneous Loose Feathers:

  • These consist of assorted feathers.
  • Includes various type feathers (such as primaries, secondaries, tail, and plumes).
  • All plumes may be requested.
  • These are lower quality feathers and feather condition cannot be guaranteed.
  • Applicants may not customize orders.
  1. Yes, schools may request eagle feathers to present at graduation to Native American students who are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes.
  2. A representative from the school who is an enrolled member of a Federally recognized tribe should apply at the beginning of the school year for the 20 miscellaneous feather category which has the shortest turnaround time.
    • Only one order per applicant may be pending at a time. This includes orders placed for personal use.
  3. Upon receipt of feathers, applicants may reorder and may continue to do so throughout the year until the number of feathers needed have been acquired.
If your order is for graduation purposes, please write “GRADUATION” on the order form.
The demand for eagle carcasses, parts, and feathers is high and supplies are limited.
The time needed to fill requests will vary depending on the items ordered and as the inventory permits.
Estimated time frames for various items are provided below.



National Eagle Repository
6550 Gateway Road, RMA, Bldg 128
Commerce City, CO 80022
(303) 287-2110
repository @


Questions? Contact Us.

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Cultural Resources

Office Hours
M - F  |  8 am - 5 pm 

4217 NW 319th St, Ridgefield WA 98642
(360) 353-9997


The legacy of an ancient people in southwest Washington is rich with descendants who manage a growing portfolio of health, education, scientific research, housing, transportation, development, elder care, conservation and legal issues. The Cowlitz Tribe is a growing force in community building in what are now Clark, Cowlitz, Lewis and parts of Pierce, Skamania and Wahkiakum Counties, a vast territory occupied by numerous Cowlitz villages prior to non-Cowlitz exploration and seizure. Today, an elected Tribal Council is composed of professionals adept at managing multiple programs and projects.