Eel River Athapaskan

The Eel River Athapaskan People include the WailakiLassikNongatl, and Sinkyone (Sinkine). Today they live in present-day Mendocino, Trinity, and Humboldt counties on or near the Eel River and Van Duzen River of northwestern California.

These groups speak dialects of the Wailaki language belonging to the Pacific Coast Athabaskan group of the Athapaskan language family. 

Other related Athapaskan groups near the Eel River Athapaskans included the Hupa-Whilkut-Chilula to the north, the Mattole on the coast to the west, and the Kato to the south.

The Whilkut, Nongatl and Lassik were essentially annihilated during the Bald Hills War in the 1860s.


The Nongatl (Hupa word meaning ″Athapaskan to the south″) lived traditionally in the territory around the Van Duzen River, from its outlet on the Eel River to its headwaters near Dinsmore, California, and along Yager Creek and Larabee Creek. They had at least 35 villages.


The Lassik (Las’-sik, the name of their last chief) had about 20 villages and occupied a portion of main Eel River south to Kekawaka Creek, and its east tributaries, Van Duzen River, Larrabee, and Dobbyn creeks, as well the headwaters of the North Fork Eel River and Mad River. 

The majority of them perished during the first few years of the occupancy of their country by white people, a bounty being placed on their heads and the traffic in children for slaves being profitable and unrestrained. A few families of them are still living in the neighborhood of their former homes.


The Wailaki (Wintun term meaning “north language.”) or in their own language Kinist’ee (″the people″)[2] lived in northwestern California, along the Eel River south of Kekawaka Creek and the North Fork Eel River in three main subdivisions: 

Tsennahkenne or Tsen-nah-ken-ne (Eel River Wailaki or Mainstem Eel River band); 

Bahneko or Bah-ne-ko keah (North Fork [Eel River] Wailaki or North Fork Eel River band); and 

Che-teg-gah-ahng (Pitch Wailaki or Pitch band) (located farther up the North Fork of the Eel River). These regional groupings were divided into several bands and contained almost 100 villages.

Sinkyone (Sinkine)

The Sinkyone, with about 70 villages, had the land along the Eel River and South Fork Eel River, and a portion of coastline from Spanish Flat south.

Today, some Wailaki people are enrolled in the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians of California, the Grindstone Indian Rancheria of Wintun-Wailaki Indians, and the Round Valley Indian Tribes (formerly: Covelo Indian Community Yuki, Wailaki, Concow, Little Lake Pomo, Nomlacki, and Pit River peoples).

There are also Athabascan tribes in Alaska.