Travel Guides Crafted by Experienced Archaeologists & Historians

USA Pacific Region

Native American totem pole.


Indigenous people have been living in Alaska for thousands of years. Resulting in a unique and vibrant Native culture that continues to the present. Visitors can experience totem carving, Native dancing, the blanket toss, as well as exploring numerous cultural and historical museums and heritage centres. Russian fur traders were amongst the first settlers, arriving in the 17th century. ‘Onion domes’ and religious icons bear testimony to this episode of the state’s history.
A polychrome panel of Chumash rock art in California, USA.


The nation’s most south-westerly state, California is also its most populous. Indigenous peoples of the region include the Chumash, Mohave and Timbisha. Spanish settlement from the 18th century resulted in California becoming part of Mexico before being purchased by the United States in 1848. California formally became a state in 1850 and saw rapid population growth in the mid-19th century, with European American migrants from the Midwest supplemented by those from East Asia and Mexico. While over three-quarters of Californians live in the metropolitan areas, the state’s diverse natural environments are preserved in nine national parks.
An aerial view of the wreck and memorial of USS Arizona in Pearl Harbour.


A cluster of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii is the youngest state in the U.S., only gaining statehood in 1959. The indigenous Hawaiians are a Polynesian people whose ancestors likely arrived on the islands around 300 AD/CE. European contact was established by the British explorer James Cook in 1778 and ultimately resulted in the transformation of Hawaii into a kingdom led by indigenous monarchs. In 1893, European and European American settlers helped to overthrow Queen Liliuokalani, facilitating Hawaii’s annexation as a U.S. territory in 1900. Further European American settlement in the early 20th century contributed to growing dispossession of the indigenous people, some of whom campaign for its restoration as an independent country.

Dilapidated barn and truck under the Milky Way at Shaniko ghost town in Oregon, USA.


One of the three states bordering the Pacific Ocean, Oregon was historically home predominantly to a wide range of indigenous groups, among them the Chinook, Tillamook, Nez Percé and the Modoc. Their lifestyles reflect diverse environments, from forested mountains to open river valleys. Spanish and English sailors navigated Oregon’s coast in the 16th century, although it would only be in the early 19th century that Europeans, largely in the form of fur traders, arrived overland from the east. The 1830s saw the growth of European American settlement, with Oregon becoming a state in 1859, after which the area’s indigenous peoples were increasingly pushed onto reservations.

Murals depicting a historic Native American settlement in Port Angeles, Washington State, USA.


The most northerly of the three coterminous states along the Pacific Coast, Washington is named for the country’s first president. Known for its dense rainforests and mountains, Washington was once inhabited predominantly by indigenous peoples like the Nez Percé, Chinook, and Coast Salish. Evidence for life before Europeans arrived has been revealed at the Ozette Site, a settlement preserved by an 18th-century mudslide. European fur traders and missionaries increasingly moved into the area in the 19th century, resulting in wars between settlers and indigenous groups and the ultimate forcing of many of the latter onto reservations. 1853 saw the formation of the Washington Territory, which then achieved statehood in 1889.