Pit River / Achomawi

The name of the Achomawi people comes from the words adzúma or achóma meaning  "river."   They are also known as the Pit River Indians. Ko'm-maidüm, meaning "snow people" is a Maidu name given to the Pit River / Achomawi. Shawash is the Yuki name for the Achomawi taken to Round Valley Reservation. 

The Pit River / Achomawi were originally classed with the Atsugewi as one stock under the name Palaihnihan, the Achomawan stock of Merriam (1926), and this in turn constitutes the eastern branch of the Shastan stock, which is now placed under the widely spread Hokan language family.

The Pit River / Achomawi were located in the drainage area of the Pit River from near Montgomery Creek in Shasta County, California to Goose Lake on the Oregon line, with the exception of the territory watered by Burney, Hat, and Horse or Dixie Valley Creeks. 

Pit River / Achomawi Subdivisions 

Kroeber (1925) gives the following:

Achomawi, on Fall River.
Astakiwi, in upper Hot Springs Valley.
Atuami, in Big Valley.
Hamawi, on the South Fork of Pit River.
Hantiwi, in lower Hot Springs Valley.
Ilmawi, on the south side of Pit River opposite Fort Crook.
Madehsi, the lowest on Pit River along the big bend.

C. H. Merriam (1926) says that Achomawi is the Madehsi name for the Astakiwi which occupied all of Hot Springs Valley, and he adds the names of two other tribes between the last mentioned and Goose Lake, the Ko-se-al-lak’-te, and, higher up, at the lower end of the lake, the Ha’-we-si’-doc.


Together with the Atsugewi, the Achomawi are estimated by Kroeber (1925) to have numbered 3,000 in 1770; in 1910 there were 985.  According to the census of 1930, the entire Shastan stock numbered 844, and in 1937, 418 “Pit River” Indians were enumerated, only a portion of the stock apparently.

Famous Pit River Indians