Karuk Indians

The Karuk people are an indigenous people of northern California.
The name “Karuk,” also spelled “Karok,” means “upriver people”, or “upstream people.” They are called Chum-ne in the Tolowa language.

The Karuk people speak the Karuk language, a Shastan language, belonging to the Hokan language family.

Since time immemorial, the Karuk have resided in villages along the Klamath River, where they continue such cultural traditions as hunting, gathering, fishing, basket making and ceremonial dances.

Happy Camp, California is located in the heart of the Karuk Tribe’s ancestral territory, which extends along the Klamath River from Bluff Creek (near the community of Orleans in Humboldt County) through Siskiyou County in California, and into Southern Oregon.

The Karuk were the only California tribe to grow tobacco plants.

The Brush Dance, Jump Dance and Pikyavish ceremonies last for several days and are practiced to heal and “fix the world,” to pray for plentiful acorns, deer and salmon, and to restore social good will as well as individual good luck.

In the summers of 1871 and 1872 an amateur ethnographer by the name of Stephen Powers visited Indian groups in Northern California. His published observations offer an insight into the lives of the native survivors of the California Gold Rush.

According to Powers, the Karok (Karuk) were one of three groups living on the Klamath River (the others being the Yurok and Modoc). He also noted that there was no recollection of any ancient migration to the region; instead there were legends of Creation and the Flood which were fabled to have occurred on the Klamath River.

Modern Day Karuk Tribes

Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria
Karuk Tribe
Quartz Valley Indian Community

Further Reading:
Karuk: The Upriver People
Other California Indian Tribes