The Plateau Culture Area is the area between the Cascade Mountains and the Rocky Mountains in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, British Columbia, and Western Montana. From north to south it runs from the Fraser River in the north to the Blue Mountains in the south. Much of the area is classified as semi-arid. Part of it is mountainous with pine forests in the higher elevations.
The Plateau is situated adjacent to the Great Basin Culture Area to the south, the Plains Culture Area to the east, and the Northwest Culture Area to the west. The Plateau area tribes often served as traders facilitating the flow of goods throughout the Northwest. With the imposition of the reservation way of life in the late nineteenth century, traditional trading stopped, but in the twentieth century the tourist demand for Indian goods created a new market. One of the displays at the High Desert Museum in Bend, Oregon, shows some of the Indian items made for the tourist trade in the 1920s and 1930s.