Salish and Salishan refer to a group of Native American or American Indian peoples living in the Pacific Northwest of North America.
Their north-south range extends from the Bella Coola in southern Alaska to the Tillamook in central Oregon. Their east-west range extends, obviously, from the Pacific coast inward to roughly central British Columbia and Montana. The tribes and their languages are divided into four main categories. Bella Coola and Tillamook are each a class unto themselves; the other two major divisions are Coast Salish and Interior Salish. It is thought that the Salish settled first on the coast of southern Alaska and later migrated southward and later still eastward.
Coast Salish comprises more members than Interior Salish. Coast Salish includes Lushootseed, a language which still seems to have a fighting chance at survival. Interior Salish includes Coeur d'Alene and the Flathead-Spokane-Kalispell group made famous by Sherman Alexie (who is Spokane) and the film Smoke Signals which took place mainly on the Coeur d'Alene reservation.
Salishan mythology has been documented extensively by Franz Boas and his informants and followers including Gladys Reichard and, later, Anthony Mattina. While Salishan tales feature motifs common to Native American oral literature, such as the trickster and the transformer, there are also some unique elements.
Salish culture is largely a hunting-gathering type of culture, with fishing playing an important role. Some plants that are especially important in Salish culture are camas and serviceberry.
Salishan languages are characterized by an extremely rich consonant inventory, including many glottalized consonants and, in some of the languages, a voiceless lateral fricative and pharyngeal sounds. These languages are also characterized by extensive morphosyntax.