Shasta people

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Shasta people
Total population
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( California) ( Oregon)

The Shastan peoples are a group of linguistically related indigenous from the Klamath Mountains. They traditionally inhabited portions of several regional waterways, including the Klamath, Salmon, Sacramento and McCloud rivers. Scholars have generally divided the Shastan peoples into four languages, although arguments in favor of more or less existing have been made. Speakers of Shasta proper, Konomihu, Okwanuchu, and New River Shasta resided in settlements typically near a water source. Their villages often had only either one or two families. Larger villages had more families and additional buildings utilised by the community.

Shastan lands are presently part of the American states of California and Oregon, forming portions of the Siskiyou, Klamath and Jackson counties. The four Shastan speaking peoples along with the nearby Chimariko were often incorrectly considered a single culture by incoming settlers and miners. Shastan peoples were forcibly relocated by the United States Government to the distant Grande Ronde and Siletz reservations of Oregon.[2] Some Shasta descendants still reside there, while others are across Siskiyou county in such locations as the Quartz Valley Indian Reservation or Yreka. Many former members of the Shasta tribe have since been inducted into the Karuk and Alturas tribes.

Origin of name

Shasta wasn't a term used among the Shastan peoples prior to contact with whites. Among the Shasta proper they called themselves "Kahosadi" or "plain speakers".[3] Variations of Shasta used by European descendants include Chasta, Shasty, Tsashtl, Sasti, and Saste.[4][5] Dixon noted that the Shastan peoples didn't use "Shasta" as a place name and likely wasn't a word at all in their languages. In interviews with Shasta informants Dixon was informed of a prominent man of Scott Valley that lived up until the 1850s with the name of Susti or Sustika. This was the probable origin of the term according to Dixon,[6] an interpretation that Kroeber agreed with.[4] Merriam reviewed information from Albert Samuel Gatschet and fur trader Peter Skene Ogden, concluding that while the Shastan peoples didn't refer to themselves as Shasta traditionally the near by Klamath likely did[7]

In 1814, near the Willamette Trading Post a meeting occurred between North West Company officer Alexander Henry and an assembled Sahaptin congregation of Cayuse and Walla Walla, in addition to a third group of people that was named Shatasla. Maloney argued that Shatasla was an archaic variant of Shasta.[8] something Garth later conjectured as well.[9] This interpretation has been contested by other scholars based on linguistic and historical evidence. Previous to Maloney's assertion, Frederick Hodge in 1910 noted the word Shatalsa as being related to word Sahaptin.[10] This older etymology was defended by Stern against Maloney's interpretation,[11] in addition to recently being accepted by Clark as well.[12]

Social organization

Mount Shasta is a prominent landmark among the Siskiyou Mountains and has cultural significance for the Shasta.

The Shasta were the numerically largest of the Shastan speakers. Their territories spread around modern Ashland in the north, Jenny Creek and Mt. Shasta to the east, southward to the Scott Mountains, and westward to modern Seiad Valley and the Salmon and Marble Mountains.[13] This area had four important waterways, each of which had a distinct group of resident Shasta. These were the Klamath River and two of its tributaries, the Shasta River and Scott River, along with the Bear Creek in the Rogue Valley. Four bands of Shasta existed with variations in custom and differing dialects. Each band had names derived from nearby waterways. In this way people from Shasta River or Ahotidae were the "Ahotireitsu", those from the Bear Creek or Ikiruk were the "Ikirukatsu", and inhabitants of Scott River or Iraui were the "Irauitsu".[3][2] Shastan families located directly along the Klamath River were referred to by the Ikirukatsu as "Wasudigwatsu" after their particular words for the Klamath River and gulch. The Irauistu knew them as "Wiruwhikwatsu" and the Ahotireitsu called them "Wiruwhitsu", terms derived from "down river" and "up river" respectively.[3][2]

Shasta settlements often only contained a single family. In larger villages headmen held sway. The responsibilities of this position were varied. They were expected "to exhort the people to live in peace, do good, have kind hearts, and be industrious."[13] A common requirement to hold the position was that the individual had to be materially wealthy. This came from the expectation for them to use their property in negotiations to settles disputes between members of their village or with other settlements.[14] In raids on enemies the headman did not participate but negotiated with enemy headmen to establish peaceable relations. Each of the four Shasta bands had individual headmen as well.[14] While only the Ikirukatsu were reported to have had hereditary succession to the position it is thought the other three bands had some form hereditarian succession as well. While each of the four band headmen were considered equal in particularly trying disputes the Ikirukatsu headman would negotiate an end to the issue.[15]

Affiliated peoples

Three related groups of Shastan speakers resided adjacent to the Shasta proper. These were the Okwanuchu of the upper Sacramento and McCloud rivers, and the Salmon River based Konomihu and New River Shasta. There is little recorded information on the New River Shasta, Konomihu and Okwanuchu. Merriam concluded that "any extended discussion of their culture, customs, beliefs, and ceremonies is out of the question..."[16] Each group had particularly small territories. The New River Shasta held 45 square miles (120 km2), the Okwanuchu had 60 square miles (160 km2), and the Konomihu only occupied 20 square miles (52 km2).[16]

The Shasta called the Konomihu "Iwáppi", related to the term used for the Karuk. The Konomihu referred to themselves as "Ḱunummíhiwu".[17] They inhabited portions of the north and south forks of the Salmon River, in addition to part of the combined waterway. Seventeen settlements are recorded to have existed within Konomihu territory.[16] Political authority was more fragmented than the Shasta, reportedly there being no form of appointed or hereditary village headmen.[16] Most knowledge of Konomihu interactions with neighboring peoples has been lost. It is known that despite occasional disputes with the Irauitsu Shasta,[17] intermarriage was common.[18] The Irauitsu appear to have been important trading partners as well. In return for their buckskin garments the Konomihu received abalone beads.[18]

It is not known what the autonym of the New River Shasta was. However it is known that the Shasta likely referred to them as "tax·a·ʔáycu", the Hupa called them "Yɨdahčɨn" or "those from upcountry (away from the stream)", while the Karok called them "Kà·sahʔára·ra" or "person of ka·sah".[17] The New River Shasta largely lived in the Salmon River basin despite the scholarly appellation, though they did reside on the forks of the New River. There were at least five reported settlements inhabited by New River Shasta according to information gained from particular informants.[19] Residents of the New River forks were proposed by Merriam to speak a distinct language from the Salmon River inhabitants.[19] Dixon criticized the idea and presented evidence for the linguistic unity of the cultural group.[20] Merriam's conclusion of there being two differing languages between the New River Shasta group has not been adopted by other scholars.[17]

What information has been preserved about the Okwanuchu amounts to little. The origin of the word Okwanuchu is unknown. They were called "ye·tatwa"[21] and "Ikusadewi"[22] by the Achomawi. Intermarriage between Okwanuchu and Achomawi speakers was apparently common.[21]


Estimations for the pre-contact Shasta population have substantially varied, as is true for most native groups in California. Alfred L. Kroeber put the 1770 population of the Shasta proper as 2,000 and the New River, Konomihu, and Okwanuchu groups, along with the Chimariko, as 1,000.[22] Using population information on a nearby culture, Sherburne F. Cook largely agreed with Kroeber and concluded there were about 2,210 Shasta proper and another 1,000 related peoples.[23] Subsequently however Cook raised the figure to 5,900 total Shasta, inclusive of the smaller related cultures.[24] Kroeber estimated the population of the Shasta proper in 1910 as 100.[4]

Neighboring societies

A Yurok man in a redwood canoe. These vehicles were prized among the Shasta.[4]

The Shasta were located at the crossroads of several major cultural regions. This was reflected in their neighbors, each with distinct material and cultural conditions. To the southwest on the lower Klamath River were the Karuk, Yurok and Hupa. Past the southern borders of Shasta territory resided the Wintu. They were the northernmost extension of a central Californian culture focused on the Russian River Pomo and the Patwin.[25] To the east and southeast were the Achomawi and Atsugewi, with whom the Shasta have some linguistic affiliations. Kroeber placed the Achomawi and Atsugewi with the northeastern Modoc and Klamath into the "Northeast" cultural group.[26] They received cultural influences from the Columbia Plateau and Columbia River Sahaptins, far more than the Shasta did.[4]

Klamath River societies

Coming from the Shasta word for "down the river" the Karuk were known as "Iwampi".[3] Along with the Yurok, both nations inspired many facets of Shasta society and were their principal trading partners.[27] These peoples were particularly similar to the Shasta and these ethnicities formed the southern terminus "of that great and distinctive culture [...] common to all peoples of the Pacific coast from Oregon to Alaska."[28] Additional members of this grouping included the Tolowa further to the west and the Takelma located to the north.[25]

The Karuk culture was held in a favorable regard by most Shasta, particularly for their manufactured items.[3] Shasta merchants would bring stockpiles of trade goods in demand down river, which included a variety of preserved foodstuffs, animal pelts, and obsidian blades. Merchandise found desirable by the Shasta included Tan Oak acorns, Yurok produced redwood canoes, a gamut of baskets of varying designs, seaweed, dentalia and abalone beads.[29][27][4] The Karuk also were the primary source of dentalia for the Konomihu as well.[18] Baskets and hats used by the Shasta were acquired primarily with these Klamath River nations.[30]

Dentalium shells were imported from the Takelma, Karuk and Yurok. They were used by the Shasta in personal adornments, artistic additions to clothing or as a trading medium.


The delimitation of territory with the Takelma to the north has been a matter of controversy between scholars. Shasta informants told Roland B. Dixon that they previously occupied the Bear Creek Valley southward and eastward of the Table Rocks. He was additionally given Shasta place names of this area. This information was forwarded to Edward Sapir who suggested that the Shasta and Takelma both utilized this disputed region of the Rogue Valley.[31] Alfred Kroeber would in turn claim that Shasta territories extended as far north as modern Trail, Oregon.[4]

Based on a review on accounts by Takelma and Shasta informants and the journal of Ogden, Gray has determined and proposed a revised cultural boundary. During the early 19th century the southern Bear Creek valley was used by both the Shasta and Takelma peoples as Sapir had speculated. The higher portions of the local Neil and Emigrant Creeks, in addition to the northern Siskiyou slopes close to Siskiyou Summit were Shasta areas.[32] Regardless of their conflicts over the Bear Creek Valley, the Takelma were active trading partners with the Shasta and were a major source of dentalia.[27]

Lutuamian peoples

Known as the "Ipaxanai" from the Shasta word for "lake", the Modoc were traditionally held in low regard and were seen as without much material wealth by the Shasta. For example a Shasta informant reported that "How could you settle anything with them? They didn't have any money."[3] There was an amount of commercial transactions between the Shasta and the Klamath but these were apparently rare occurrences.[27] Spier reported that Shasta manufactured beads were exchanged for animal pelts and blankets.[33] Outside of trading with the Modoc, this was some of the only trading done between the Klamath and the Indigenous peoples of California.[34] Both the Modoc and their Klamath relatives gained horses in the 1820s.[35] This greatly enhanced their military capabilities which began a period of attacks on their southern and western neighbors. Both the Ahotireitsu and Klamath River Shasta bands were targets of Modoc slave raiding.

Achomawi & Atsugewi

The Achomawi and Atsugewi speakers resided to the east in the Pit River basin. Not much has been recorded on interactions the Shasta had with them. It is known that the Shasta were the principal source of dentalia for both peoples.[36] There was some direct contact with the Atsugewi though it was probably minimal.[37] Atsugewi informants agreed that they traditionally had many shared cultural traits with the Shasta especially their similar "religion, mythology, social organization, political organization, puberty customs, and paucity of ceremonial."[38] The Madhesi band of Achomawi were known to have had occasional disputes. Villages in the vicinity of modern Big Bend were liable to be raided by Shasta warriors.[39]


Bands of Wintu located around modern McCloud, California and in the Upper Sacramento Valley had the majority of interactions with the Shasta.[40] While clashes did occur with Wintu speakers, it wasn't nearly as common as conflict with the Modoc.[41] These conflicts earned the Shasta the Wintun name of "yuki" or "enemy".[40] Despite the occasional skirmish there was some commercial and cultural exchanges between the peoples. The Wintu were an active source of Tan oak acorns and abalone beads.[27] The Shasta were the primary distributors of dentalia to the Wintu, along with some obsidian and buckskin.[42] A drink made by both the Shasta and the Wintu was a cider created from Manzanita berries.[43] Members of both cultures were inspired by the manufactured goods created by the other nation. Ahotireitsu Shasta considered clothing made by Wintu fashionable and made hats from Indian hemp after their style.[44] Upper Sacramento Valley and McCloud Wintu admired the smooth headgear used by the Shasta. These twine hats were copied by the Wintu, who used material from Woodwardia ferns in their reproductions more often than among their own designs.[45]

Historic culture


Coho salmon were traditionally a major source of nutrition for the Shasta.

The Shastan peoples had a diet based around locally available food sources. Many plant and animal species that existed in Shasta territories were located in adjacent areas. These food sources were commonly gathered and used by the Shasta and other regional cultures. The large populations of game animals in the Shasta territories led to many confrontation from other California Natives keen on gaining animal meat and pelts. Strategies to procure and later store these foodstuffs shared similarities with adjoining cultures.[43]

Fishing runs began in the spring and continued throughout the summer and autumn. The White Deerskin dance by the Karuk determined the appropriate time for the Shasta to eat fish. Held sometime in July, the dance was an important event for Shasta to witness and known as "kuwarik".[46] Prior to the event Coho salmon could be caught and dried, but not consumed. Rainbow trout had to be released before the Karuk dance. Not doing so was seen as particularly egregious and made one liable to be killed.[46] Spears were reportedly uncommon for use in fishing among the Shasta. Fires were created and maintained at weirs to enable efficient night fishing. Fishing nets designs were near identical to those created by Karuk and Yurok. Catfish and crawfish were caught with bait tied to lines. Once stuck on the line, the prey would be captured with a thin basket.[46]

California mule deer were hunted according to one of several strategies employed by the Shasta.[47] In the autumn at mineral licks deer were forced by controlled burning of oak leaves into gaps between the flames where hunters would wait.[48] Shasta also chased deer into nooses that were tied to trees. Alternatively dogs were trained to chase deer into creeks. Hidden until their prey was in the water, Shasta hunters would then kill the deer with arrows.[47] There were a number of societal conventions related to the ownership of the deer. For example, whoever killed the prey had right to its pelt and hind legs. Other reported conventions regulated the divisions of meat in a fair manner and when Shasta were allowed to hunt.[47]

Acorns from the California Black Oak were commonly consumed, although imported Tan Oak acorns were considered more appetizing.

Additional nutritional sources included several smaller animal species. Mussels were collected from the Klamath River by women and children that dived for the organisms. During the autumn the river shrunk in size, leaving exposed populations of mussels along the river banks. Once gathered in a sufficient quantity the mussels steamed in earthen ovens. Then the shells were opened and the meat dried through sunlight for future use.[49] Grasshoppers and crickets were consumed by both the Ahotireitsu and Ikirukatsu Shasta. Parcels of grasslands were set ablaze by Shasta men. After the fires had died down the cooked grasshoppers were collected and dried. When grasshoppers were served with particular grass seeds the insects were pounded into a fine powder.[49] Visitors to Shasta Valley would join Ahotireitsu during periods of abundant insect populations to collect their own food stores.[50]

Acorns were a valuable foodstuff in Shasta cuisine. Local sources of the nut included the Canyon Oak, California Black Oak and the Oregon White Oak.[43] After leeching the acorns of tannins the nuts were turned into a dough. Black Oak meal was preferred compared to the slimier and less popular White Oak meal for both consumption and trade. Canyon Oak acorns were often buried and allowed to turn black before being cooked.[43] Often nuts from Sugar pines were steamed, dried and stored for future consumption.[43] Pitch from the Ponderosa pine was pounded into a fine dust and consumed or used as a chewing gum.[51] Many fruits were harvested once ripe and often dried. This included Chokecherries, Whiteleaf manzanita berries, Pacific blackberries, San Diego raspberries, and Blue elderberries.[52]

Flower bulbs were gathered seasonally to supplement other food stores. Camas roots were commonly collected. Members of the calochortus genus were known as "ipos" to the Shasta who relished them.[49] Once the bulb was husked ipos roots were consumed raw or dried in sunlight and later stored. Shastan cuisine had many meals that included dried ipos. Guests were often given small servings of serviceberries and dried ipos while the main meal cooked. One particularly popular dish was powdered ipos root mixed into manzanita cider.[49] Another consumed flowering plant species was Fritillaria recurva. Commonly called "chwau", the bulbs were prepared by either roasting or boiling.[49]


A Yurok winter dwelling. Shasta residencies were largely the same in design.[53]

Shasta architecture appears to have large been derived from the downriver Hupa, Karuk and Yurok peoples.[53] Permanent houses were constructed by the Shasta for the winter. These dwellings were built in the same locations annually, commonly near a creek. Klamath River Shasta winter villages commonly had only 3 families, while Dixon has suggested that both Irauitsu and Ahotireitsu villages usually had more families.[53] The beginning of a winter house started with excavating a pit. Common dimensions rectangular or oval shaped excavation were 16.3 feet (5.0 m) by 19.8 feet (6.0 m), with a depth of 3.3 feet (1.0 m). Once the area was cleared load bearing wooden poles were placed in the excavated corners. Additional wooden supports and posts placed throughout the structure. After the pit walls were covered with cedar-bark, the sugar-pine or cedar wooden roof was finally put into place.[53]

The okwá'ŭmma ("big house")[53] was a structure maintained in populous Shasta villages. A pit up to 26.3 feet (8.0 m) wide, 39 feet (12 m) wide and 6.6 feet (2.0 m) deep was dug, with a building process similar to winter dwellings employed. Their functionality was primarily for assemblies, such as seasonal religious ceremonies and dances. Dixon incorrectly reported that okwá'ŭmma were used as sweat houses.[54] If a villager had too many guests for their house, permission would be secured to use the okwá'ŭmma instead. Okwá'ŭmma were owned by a prominent individual, often the headman, and constructed with communal labor.[53] They were uncommon buildings, as along the Klamath River perhaps only three existed. Male relatives of the owner inherited the structure, if only female relatives remained it was burnt down.[54]

Dwellings utilized by the Konomihu varied according to season like the Shasta. During the salmon runs of spring and summer huts created from plant brush were used. These were abandoned in the autumn in favor of bark houses while deer were hunted.[17] These winter houses were markedly different from the Shasta, Karuk and Yurok.[18] While partially underground their houses were built in 15 to 18 foot wide circles with sloped conical roofs.[16]

Manufactured items

An assembled collection of Karuk made baskets. These were quite popular among the Shasta and frequently purchased.

An important item for Shasta households were baskets, which principally came from the Karuk. The Konomihu likewise largely imported their baskets from abroad.[18] Baskets made by Shasta were generally a composite of plant materials gathered from the Ponderosa pine, California hazelnut, several species of Willow, Bear grass, and the Five-fingered fern. Their designs took influences from the nearby Hupa, Karuk and Yurok peoples.[55] Pigments were made by the Shasta for the beautification of baskets and other personal possessions. Red and black dyes were the most commonly used and come from acorns and alder bark respectively.

Ropes, cordage and manufactured goods such as mats, nets and clothing were largely derived from Indian hemp.[44] During the winter snow shoes were often necessary to traverse their homeland. These were made primarily from deer hide with the fur left on.[56] Dentalium shells were an important possession for the Shasta. Principally they were used for ornamentation through being sown into clothing, in addition to usage as a bartering medium.[44] Konomihu produced buckskin leggings, robes and skirts that were painted with black, red and white patterns and adorned with dentalia and abalone beads.[18] Okwanuchu crafted tubular wooden pipes similar in design to those made by Wintu.[57]

Charles Wilkes described Shasta made weaponry in 1845:

"Their bows and arrows are beautifully made: the former are of yew and about three feet long; they are flat, and an inch and a half to two inches wide: these are backed very neatly with sinew, and painted. The arrows are upwards of thirty inches long; some of them were made of a close-grained wood, a species of spiraea, while others were of reed; they were feathered for a length of from five to eight inches, and the barbed heads were beautifully wrought from obsidian... Their quivers are made of deer, raccoon, or wild-cat skin; these skins are generally whole, being left open at the tail end."[58]

Body modification

Body decoration and modification were common practices among the Shasta. For example they employed dyes of red, yellow, blue, black and white in their artwork. These dyes were created from plant matter and natural clay deposits. Reportedly body painting was largely used by shamans and those preparing for warfare. The latter group generally used white and black colors during their war preparations. Red was applied by shamans upon their buckskins in geometric patterns.[55]

Permanent tattooing was performed by elder women who used small obsidian flakes. Tattoos for women were generally several vertical marks on the chin that occasionally were prolonged to the edges of the mouth. For men tattoos had an important functionality in bartering and exchanges. Applied in lines on their hands or arms, these lines were used to measure dentalia and beads. Septum piercings were made to hold either a long dentalia shell or ornate feathers, while ear piercings held an assembled group of dentalia.[56]


Warfare was principally performed in asymmetrical small raids. Leaders of these attacks were determined by raiding party members. An armed group was organized usually to redress aggression and violence against village members.[59] In conflicts with the Modoc armed warriors came largely from the Klamath River and Ahotireitsu Shasta. These clashes have been speculated to have been the most violent for the Shasta by scholars. While disputes and raids occurred with the Wintu, they were apparently not as destructive as warfare with the Modoc.[41] Attacks on Wintu and Modoc villages included torching the settlement. This was not practiced in raids between Shasta villages.[41]

Shasta warriors wore protective adornments when headed into a conflict. Stick armor was preferred over the alternative elkhide. Materials for stick armor were largely sourced from serviceberry trees and woven together tightly with twine.[60] As a rule head coverings were made from elk hide, sometimes placed in several layers thick. Notably Shasta women could join in both preparations for an upcoming attack and as active participants in the battle itself. Dixon recorded in such instances women would be armed with obsidian knives and attempt to disarm or destroy the weapons of enemy combatants.[60]

Prisoners gained in raids were not often killed and instead were allowed to live as a slave.[60] Slavery was reportedly not widespread among the Shasta and wasn't seen as a favorable practice. Dixon stated that "persons owning slaves were said to be, in a way, looked down upon."[61]

Nineteenth century

The Shasta were isolated from the Spanish and their Californian colonies established in middle of the 18th century. When the Mexican War of Independence erupted Mexican officials assumed control of the Spanish settlements and missions by forming the Alta California Territory. This didn't change matters for the natives north of the Californian Ranchos as they maintained their territorial autonomy and protected position against European descendants.

The first recorded encounter with European descendants for the Shasta came in 1826. A Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) expedition under Peter Skene Ogden departed from Fort Vancouver to trap beavers in the Klamath Mountains. Arriving from the east, Ogden’s party was favorably received by Shasta. Ogden was disappointed by the small number of beaver in the mountainous region and shifted the party north to the Rogue Valley across the Siskiyous. Shasta guides accompanied them until shortly before modern Talent.[32] The HBC continued to send expeditions southward through the Klamath Mountains to harvest beaver populations in Alta California. These groups of fur trappers and their families traveled along the Siskiyou Trail which traversed portions of the Shastan homelands.

The following known interaction with whites wasn’t peaceable as Ogden’s visit had been. A group of Willamette Valley colonists traversed Shastan territories in the autumn of 1837. With them were several hundred cattle purchased from Alta California Governor Alvarado. Driving their herd north along the Siskiyou Trail,[62] they encountered several Shasta settlements. The Shasta were welcoming to the outsiders despite difficulties in communication. Philip Leget Edwards recorded that the cattle drivers were “at their mercy, but they have offered no injury to ourselves or property.”[63] A Shasta boy estimated by Edwards to be the age of ten accompanied the settlers for some time. As the group continued north some of the cattle men began to discuss killing natives of the area. William J. Bailey and George K. Gay had previously had fought against a group of Takelma of the Rogue Valley, getting injured and losing several companions. They considered the Shasta to be acceptable targets to attack for revenge.[64] A Shasta man was found and shot to death by Gay and Bailey. They also attempted to murder the Shasta youth that had joined the cattle herders but he escaped. While officer Ewing Young was furious at the murder, the majority of the party condoned the murder. Lawrence Carmichael agreed and felt that it was justified: "We are not missionaries, we will avenge the death of Americans."[64] Edwards noted that the men Gay and Bailey had fought previously "may have been of another tribe."[65] The party continued toward the Willamette Valley and left Shasta territories. Bailey and Gay faced no punishment for their actions.

Several years later a portion of the United States Exploring Expedition under the command of Lieutenant George F. Emmons visited the Klamath Mountains. Emmons had been given instructions by Charles Wilkes to explore the headwaters of the Klamath, Sacramento, and Umpqua rivers.[66].The assembled men had departed from Fort Vancouver to Fort Umpqua during the summer of 1841. During September and October they traveled through Shasta territories, generally following the Siskiyou Trail.[67] A Shasta settlement exchanged their yew bows and fish for trade goods from the visiting explorers. Inhabitants of the village demonstrated their archery skills by repeatedly shooting a button from 20 yards (18 m) distant.[68] At this demonstration was an elder Shasta man who was a father-in-law to Michel Laframboise.[69] Shortly after this peaceable dialogue and trade Emmons ordered the party to depart for “Destruction river” (the Upper Sacramento River)[70] exiting Shasta lands for those of the Okwanuchu and later the Wintu.[69]

Gold Rush

Sluices and other techniques used to acquire gold dust destroyed fish populations in the Klamath River basin, in addition to causing other environmental destruction of the watershed.

The irregular contact with European descendants became far more frequent by the late 1840s. Gold deposits discovered at Sutter’s Mill quickly became global knowledge. The lure of achieving material wealth created the California Gold Rush and drew in outsiders by the hundreds of thousands. The incoming miners and colonists had little respect for California Natives and frequently spread violence against indigenous peoples in their pursuit for wealth. US military forces conquered Alta California during the Mexican-American War. The California Territory was established in 1849 although much of the claimed land remained in indigenous hands. Becoming a state in 1850, the California State Legislature organized Shasta County which became increasingly colonized by incoming miners. Once it was firmly in control by whites Shasta County was speculated to become an important region for its agricultural and mineral potential.[71]

Much of the Shastan territories were within the northern goldfields. They weren't seen favorably by incoming miners, being considered to have "inherited a spirit of warfare, and delight in [...] perilous incidents of daring thefts or bold fighting.[72] This image of native aggression was repeatedly mentioned in contemporary newspapers. The Shasta and other natives in the north were apparently found to be "more warlike than those of any other section of the State, and bear the most implacable hatred towards all pale faces."[73]

By August 1850 there were over 2,000 miners prospecting on Klamath and Salmon rivers. Over a hundred miles of the Klamath River had been searched for gold deposits and portions were occupied by mining operations. While the Shasta River hadn’t yet been exploited it was considered by miners to contain rich gold deposits.[74] In the winter of 1850 advertisements appeared in the Daily Alta California promoting the mineral potential of the Klamath River basin. These notices appealed to "the Merchant, the Miner, Mechanic, and Capitalist" to venture north where opportunities for acquiring wealth abound.[75] In addition to maintaining extensive mining operations, whites began to cut forests down for sale in Sacramento.[76] A thousand acres of Shasta river had been prospected to varying amounts by April of 1851.[77] Scott River became touted as having “the richest mines in all California."[78] Contemporaries described an influx of miners into the northern region. "The tide of emigration to Scott's River [...] flows due north, sweeping everything in its way..."[79] Redick McKee visited the Scott River in October 1851 and found it under heavy modification by miners. He reported that "Every yard almost for three or four miles is either dam or race work.”[80]

As the population of non-natives rose in the north, genocide of the indigenous was considered. Miners argued that natives along the Klamath River and its tributaries impeded access to gold deposits. They were deemed "the only obstacle to complete success in those mines."[81] The Sacramento Daily Union argued that "the Indians must soon be removed by the Government Agents, or be exterminated by the sword of the whites."[82] Violence and murder against natives were often promoted as the only way to end their "thieving and other annoying propensities."[83] Violence began to erupt across the Klamath River in the summer of 1850. In August it was reported that miners had killed fifty to sixty Hupa and burnt down three of their villages around the juncture of the Klamath and Trinity rivers.[83] At the junction of the Shasta and Klamath rivers in October a confrontation erupted in which miners killed six Shasta.[84] In July 1852 a party of miners found and killed fourteen Shasta people in Shasta Valley in revenge for the murder of a white man.[85] This escalation of violence continued to deplete the number of Shasta. Their reprisals against white violence were to protect "their communities from assault, abduction, unfree labor, rape, murder, massacre, and, ultimately, obliteration."[86]

See also


  1. ^ 2010 Census CPH-T-6. American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes in the United States and Puerto Rico:2010
  2. ^ a b c Dixon 1907, p. 387-390.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Holt 1946, pp. 301-302.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Kroeber 1925, pp. 285-291.
  5. ^ Clark 2009, pp. 48, 218, 224.
  6. ^ Dixon 1907, pp. 384-385.
  7. ^ Merriam 1926, p. 525.
  8. ^ Maloney 1945, p. 232.
  9. ^ Garth 1964, p. 48.
  10. ^ Hodge 1905, p. 520.
  11. ^ Stern 1900, p. 218 cit. 33.
  12. ^ Clark 2009, p. 224.
  13. ^ a b Silver 1978, pp. 211-214.
  14. ^ a b Dixon 1907, pp. 251-252.
  15. ^ Holt 1946, p. 316.
  16. ^ a b c d e Merriam 1967, pp. 233-235.
  17. ^ a b c d e Silver 1978, pp. 221-223.
  18. ^ a b c d e f Dixon 1907, p. 496.
  19. ^ a b Merriam 1930, pp. 288-289.
  20. ^ Dixon 1931, p. 264.
  21. ^ a b Voegelin 1942, p. 209.
  22. ^ a b Kroeber 1925, pp. 883-884.
  23. ^ Cook 1976a, p. 177.
  24. ^ Cook 1976b, p. 6.
  25. ^ a b Kroeber 1925, pp. 899-904.
  26. ^ Kroeber 1936, p. 102.
  27. ^ a b c d e Dixon 1907, p. 436.
  28. ^ Kroeber 1925, p. 1.
  29. ^ Sample 1950, pp. 8-9.
  30. ^ Dixon 1907, pp. 398-399.
  31. ^ Sapir 1907, p. 253 cit. 3.
  32. ^ a b Gray 1987, p. 18.
  33. ^ Spier 1930, p. 41.
  34. ^ Sample 1950, p. 3.
  35. ^ Spier 1930, p. 31.
  36. ^ Sample 1950, p. 8.
  37. ^ Garth 1953, p. 131.
  38. ^ Garth 1953, p. 198.
  39. ^ Kniffen 1928, p. 314.
  40. ^ a b Du Bois 1935, p. 37.
  41. ^ a b c Holt 1946, p. 313.
  42. ^ Du Bois 1935, p. 25.
  43. ^ a b c d e Kroeber 1925, pp. 293-294.
  44. ^ a b c Dixon 1907, pp. 396-399.
  45. ^ Du Bois 1935, pp. 131-132.
  46. ^ a b c Voegelin 1942, pp. 174-175.
  47. ^ a b c Dixon 1907, pp. 431-432.
  48. ^ Voegelin 1942, p. 170.
  49. ^ a b c d e Holt 1946, pp. 308-309.
  50. ^ Voegelin 1942, pp. 177-181.
  51. ^ Voegelin 1942, p. 179.
  52. ^ Dixon 1907, pp. 423-424.
  53. ^ a b c d e f Dixon 1907, pp. 416-422.
  54. ^ a b Holt 1946, pp. 305-308.
  55. ^ a b Dixon 1907, pp. 447-449.
  56. ^ a b Dixon 1907, pp. 412-413.
  57. ^ Voegelin 1942, p. 202.
  58. ^ Wilkes 1845, pp. 239-240.
  59. ^ Silver 1978, p. 218.
  60. ^ a b c Dixon 1907, pp. 439-441.
  61. ^ Dixon 1907, p. 452.
  62. ^ Edwards 1890, p. 29.
  63. ^ Edwards 1890, pp. 40-41.
  64. ^ a b Edwards 1890, pp. 42-43.
  65. ^ Edwards 1890, pp. 43-44.
  66. ^ Wilkes 1845, p. 518.
  67. ^ Wilkes 1845, pp. 237-239.
  68. ^ Wilkes 1825, pp. 237-239.
  69. ^ a b Wilkes 1845, p. 240.
  70. ^ Gudde 2010, p. 325.
  71. ^ Morse 1851b.
  72. ^ Morse 1851a.
  73. ^ Morse 1852a.
  74. ^ Kemble & Durivage 1850a.
  75. ^ Kemble & Durivage 1850c.
  76. ^ Morse 1852c.
  77. ^ Ewer & Fitch 1851c.
  78. ^ Ewer & Fitch 1851b.
  79. ^ Taylor & Massett 1851a.
  80. ^ Morse 1851c.
  81. ^ Ewer & Fitch 1850b.
  82. ^ Morse 1852b.
  83. ^ a b Kemble & Durivage 1850d.
  84. ^ Ewer & Fitch 1850a.
  85. ^ Morse 1852d.
  86. ^ Madley 2017, pp. 198-199.


Primary sources

  • Dixon, Roland B. (1907), "The Shasta", Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History, The Huntington California Expedition, New York, 17 (5): 381–498, retrieved 28 January 2018 
  • Dixon, Roland B. (1931), "Dr. Merriam's "Tló-hom-tah'-hoi"", American Anthropologist, American Anthropological Association, 33 (2): 264–267, retrieved 4 February 2018 
  • Du Bois, Cora (1935), Wintu Ethnography, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, 36 (1), University of California Press, pp. 1–147, retrieved 2 February 2018 
  • Edwards, Philip Leget (1890), California in 1837. Diary of Col. Philip L. Edwards Containing An Account of a Trip to the Pacific Coast, A. J. Johnston & Co., retrieved 16 February 2018 
  • Holt, Catherine (1946), Kroeber, Alfred, ed., Shasta Ethnography, Anthropological Records, 3, University of California Press, pp. 1–338, retrieved 28 January 2018 
  • Kniffen, Fred B. (1928), Achomawi Geography, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, 23, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, pp. 297–332 
  • Kroeber, Alfred Louis (1925), Handbook of the Indians of California, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, retrieved 28 January 2018 
  • Garth, Thomas R. (1953), Atsugewi Ethnography, Anthropological Records, 14 (2), Berkeley: University of California Press 
  • Merriam, C. Hart (1930), "THE NEW RIVER INDIANS TLÓ-HŌTM-TAH'-HOI", American Anthropologist, American Anthropological Association, 32 (2): 280–293, retrieved 4 February 2018 
  • Merriam, C. Hart (1967), Ethnographic Notes on California Indian Tribes. Part II, University of California Archaeological Survey, 68 (2), University of California Press, pp. 167–256, retrieved 3 February 2018 
  • Sapir, Edward (1907), Notes on the Takelema Indians of Southwestern Oregon, American Anthropologist New Series, 9 (2), Washington, D.C.: American Anthropological Association, pp. 251–275 
  • Spier, Leslie (1930), Kroeber, Alfred L.; Lowie, Robert, eds., Klamath Ethnography, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, 30, University of California Press, pp. 1–338, retrieved 28 January 2018 
  • Voegelin, Erminie W. (1942), Culture Element Distibutions: XX Northeast California, University of California Anthropological Records, 7 (2), Berkeley: University of California Press, pp. 47–251, retrieved 11 February 2018 
  • Wilkes, Charles (1845), Narrative of the United States Exploring Expedition. During the years 1838, 1839, 1840, 1841, 1842, 5, Philadelphia: C. Sherman 


Daily Alta California

  • Kemble, Edward C.; Durivage, J. E., eds. (14 August 1850), "Latest from Humboldt Bay.", Daily Alta California, 1 (193), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Kemble, Edward C.; Durivage, J. E., eds. (20 August 1850), "New Harbor Improvements", Daily Alta California, 1 (201), p. 3, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Kemble, Edward C.; Durivage, J. E., eds. (8 November 1850), "The town of Klamath", Daily Alta California, 1 (280), p. 3, retrieved 5 February 2018 

Marysville Daily Herald

  • Taylor, R. H.; Massett, Stephen, eds. (25 February 1851), "Sacramento City Correspondence", Marysville Daily Herald, 1 (59), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 

Sacramento Daily Union

  • Morse, John F., ed. (24 July 1851), "The Northern Indians", Sacramento Daily Union, 1 (109), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Morse, John F., ed. (29 August 1851), "Shasta County", Sacramento Daily Union, 1 (139), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Morse, John F., ed. (8 November 1851), "From Scott's River–The Indians", Sacramento Daily Union, 2 (200), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Morse, John F., ed. (9 February 1852), "Late from Shasta Plains–Indian Troubles", Sacramento Daily Union, 2 (279), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Morse, John F., ed. (1 April 1852), "Letter from Shasta", Sacramento Daily Union, 3 (321), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Morse, John F., ed. (16 June 1852), "Novel Arrival", Sacramento Daily Union, 3 (386), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Morse, John F., ed. (19 July 1852), "From the Interior", Sacramento Daily Union, 3 (413), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 

Sacramento Transcript

  • Ewer, F. C.; Fitch, G. Kenyon, eds. (14 October 1850), "The North-Western Indians", Sacramento Transcript, 1 (141), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Ewer, F. C.; Fitch, G. Kenyon, eds. (12 December 1850), "Editors of the Transcript", Sacramento Transcript, 2 (42), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Ewer, F. C.; Fitch, G. Kenyon, eds. (20 January 1851), "Intelligence Respecting the Klamath and Scott's Rivers", Sacramento Transcript, 2 (73), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Ewer, F. C.; Fitch, G. Kenyon, eds. (14 February 1851), "Highly Important from Scott's River", Sacramento Transcript, 2 (95), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 
  • Ewer, F. C.; Fitch, G. Kenyon, eds. (18 April 1851), "The Discovery in Shasta Valley", Sacramento Transcript, 3 (17), p. 2, retrieved 5 February 2018 

Secondary sources

  • Clark, Patricia Roberts (2009), Tribal Names of the Americas, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Co., Inc., ISBN 978-0-7864-3833-4 
  • Cook, Sherburne F. (1976a), The Conflict between the California Indian and White Civilization, Berkeley: University of California Press, retrieved 28 January 2018 
  • Cook, Sherburne F. (1976b), The Population of the California Indians, 1769-1970, Berkeley: University of California Press 
  • Garth, Thomas R. (1964), "Early Nineteenth Century Tribal Relations in the Columbia Plateau", Southwestern Journal of Anthropology, University of New Mexico, 20 (1): 43–57 
  • Gray, Dennis J. (1987), The Takelmas and Their Athapascan Neighbors: A New Ethnographic Synthesis for the Upper Rogue River Area of Southwestern Oregon, University of Oregon Anthropological Papers (37), Eugene, Oregon: University of Oregon Press 
  • Gudde, Erwin G. (2010), California Place Names: The Origin and Etymology of Current Geographical Names (4th ed.), Berkeley: University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-26619-3 
  • Hodge, Frederick W. (1910), Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico, 2, Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, retrieved 29 January 2018 
  • Kroeber, Alfred Louis (1936), Culture element distributions: III, Area and climax, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, 37 (4), University of California Press, pp. 101–115, retrieved 2 February 2018 
  • Madley, Benjamin (2017), An American Genocide: The United States and the California Indian Catastrophe, 1846-1873, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, ISBN 978-0-300-18136-4 
  • Maloney, Alice Bay (1945), "Shasta Was Shatasla in 1814", California Historical Society Quarterly, Berkeley: University of California Press, 24 (3): 229–234 
  • Merriam, C. Hart (1926), "Source of the name Shasta", Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences, Washington Academy of Sciences, 16 (19): 522–525 
  • Sample, Laetitia L. (1950), Trade and Trails in Aboriginal California, Reports of the University of California Archaeological Survey (8), University of California, pp. 1–30, retrieved 28 January 2018 
  • Silver, Shirley (1978), "Shastan Peoples", in Heizer, Robert F., California, Handbook of North American Indian, 8, pp. 211–224 
  • Stern, Theodore (1993), Chiefs and Chief Traders, Indian Relations at Fort Nez Percés, 1, Corvallis, Oregon: Oregon State University Press, ISBN 0-87071-368-X, retrieved 29 January 2018 

External links

  • The Shasta Nation, an organization maintained by contemporary Shasta
  • Native Tribes, Groups, Language Families and Dialects of California in 1770
Retrieved from ""
This content was retrieved from Wikipedia :
This page is based on the copyrighted Wikipedia article "Shasta people"; it is used under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). You may redistribute it, verbatim or modified, providing that you comply with the terms of the CC-BY-SA