The diversity and complexity of the Northwest Coast First Nations culture was made possible by the abundance of salmon. This plentiful source of food allowed the people of the area the time to spend on other activities besides food gathering. During the summer the people focused their efforts on obtaining, preserving and storing enough food for the winter.

Once this had been accomplished they had time to spend on their arts, including dancing, singing, painting, carving, and story telling. Their creative abilities found many and diverse forms to use to express their images. Paddles, storage boxes, feast dishes, bowls, spoons, plates, baskets and clothing were all used for artistic expression. Many of these items from the past can be seen in museums around the world.

Bent boxes, carved and painted paddles, spoons and dishes, as well as ornamental blankets and baskets are still being made today by prominent Northwest Coast artists and are much sought after by art collectors from around the globe.