Chinook people

Chinook people
Cathlapotle Plankhouse, a 2005 full-scale replica of a Chinook-style cedar plankhouse at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, which was once inhabited by Chinook peoples

Chinook refers to several groups of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States, speaking the Chinookan languages. In the early 19th century, the Chinookan-speaking peoples lived along the lower and middle Columbia River in present-day Oregon and Washington. The Chinook tribes were those encountered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805 on the lower Columbia.[1]


Historic lifestyle

The Chinook were not nomadic. At birth Chinooks would flatten some children's heads by applying pressure with a board, enabling, in turn, a social hierarchy that placed flat-headed community members above those with round heads. This ranking was inherited. Living near the coast of the Pacific Ocean, they were skilled elk hunters and fishermen. The most popular fish was Salmon. Owing partly to their non-migratory living patterns, the Chinook and other coastal tribes had relatively little conflict over land with one another. They also lived in long houses with more than fifty people in one long house.


Some are currently engaged in a continuing effort to secure formal recognition of tribal status by the U.S. Federal government. The U.S. Department of Interior initially recognized the Chinookan as a tribe in 2001. Subsequently, the department first reconsidered and then, in 2002, revoked this status.[2]

List of Chinook peoples

Location of Chinookan territory.

Chinookan-speaking groups include:

Most surviving Chinooks live in the towns of Bay Center, Chinook, and Ilwaco in southwest Washington. Many books have been written about the Chinook, including, Boston Jane: an Adventure.

Famous Chinooks

  • Chief Comcomly
  • Charles Cultee, the principal informant employed by Franz Boas for his work published as Chinook Texts
  • Ranald MacDonald, a half-Chinook, born in Fort Astoria, Oregon, to Archibald McDonald, a Scottish Hudson's Bay Company fur trader, and Raven, chief Concomly's daughter, was the first Westerner to teach English in Japan, in 1847-1848, including educating Einosuke Moriyama, one of the chief interpreters that would later handle the negotiations between Commodore Perry and the Tokugawa Shogunate
  • Catherine Troeh, historian, artist, activist and advocate for Native American rights and culture. She was a member and elder of the Chinook tribe and a direct descendant of Chief Comcomly
  • Chief Tumulth, signed the treaty that created the Grand Ronde Reservation and was later killed by Gen. Philip Sheridan

See also


  1. ^ The term "Chinook" also has a wider meaning in reference to the Chinook Jargon, which is based on Chinookan languages, in part, and so the term "Chinookan" was coined by linguists to distinguish the older language from its offspring, the Jargon.
  2. ^ For the 2001 recognition, see 66 Federal Register 1690 (2001) at [1]; for the subsequent reversal, see 67 Federal Register 46204 (2002) at [2]

External links

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