The Plateau Indians were Native American tribes that occupied parts of Idaho, California, Montana, Washington, and Oregon.
They also inhabited parts of British Columbia.
There are several distinguishing features that differentiate plateau culture from the surrounding native cultures.
These include a high reliance on roots, such as biscuitroot and camas, as a food source, a high reliance on short-duration salmon and eel runs, and long-term habitation of winter villages at fixed locations along rivers or lakes. There was a lack of social stratification and a lack of tribal organization beyond the village level.
They did not have contact with Europeans, and their first contact with Americans came during the Lewis and Clark expedition after the Louisiana Purchase.
Although they did not have any recorded contact with the Europeans, other tribes did become carriers of smallpox, which led to an epidemic before contact with Lewis and Clark.
The Plateau Indians were known for their peaceful ways, basket-making, diet, and different dress.
After the Lewis and Clark expedition, many of the tribes endured a terrible smallpox epidemic that wiped out 90% of the population in some tribes. The 1862 Pacific Northwest smallpox epidemic devastated the coast as well as some parts of the interior.
As America began to expand, conflict began to occur. This led to a series of wars that the Plateau tribes would lose, which would push them onto reservations.
List of Plateau Indian Tribes
Cayuse - A tribe that was known for its bravery and horsemanship. They developed their own horse breed that suited their semi-nomadic lifestyle and was one of the wealthiest tribes on the plateau in the 19th century.
Coeur d'Alene - A tribe that converted to Christianity and became known for their stewardship of the environment.
Klamath - A tribe that lived in Southern Oregon and became one of the wealthiest Native American tribes in the United States during the 20th century.
Kootenai - They lived in modern Montana, Idaho, and British Columbia and were divided into Upper and Lower tribes. They would be the last tribe to declare war on the United States.
Modoc - A tribe that will always be known for their fierce defense of their land during the Modoc War when 53 warriors held off 3000 United States soldiers.