Saturday, September 12, 2009

SWF Rewind- Wailakki Wintu or Wailaki From Eel River?



Wailakki Man Photographed on the Mad/VanDuzen Rivers


Wailakki Wintu or Wailaki From Eel River?

The Wintun people comprised pre-historically the open sacramento valley and the foothill region west of the sacramento river to the coast range from Just below Mt Shasta the entire distance of the Valley to Suisin and San pablo bay, including Napa and Yolo regions, that are in fact both Wintun words.

The Wintun (as the whole are often reffered) were broadly divided by early scientists into three wide ranging groups comprising this vast territory,

1) the southern wintun or "patwin" ("my relations" in Southern Wintun), there are very few s. Wintun tribal members left todayas a result of Gold Rush genocide, some are at Rumsey, Cortina, Elem, and Colusa rancheria's in the bay area and near present day Sacramento.


2) the central wintun or Nomlakki, wintun of the recently federally recognised Nomlakki of the Paskenta Rancheria, there are very few Nomlakki people left as a result of Gold Rush genocide, and several bands here were also extinct in the historical era.


3) the northern Wintun or Wintu- Wailakki- there are over 1100 modern day wintu in 5 bands from shasta and trinity counties, some can be found in the Nor-Rel-Muk Tribe and the Wintu Tribe. The vast majority are not- federally aknowleged by the BIA.
The northern wintu branch that the modern tribes represnt, pertinent to this website, are located within the northern wintu. Attention was paid by early ethnologists to record band names of these early triblets of wintu, but by the time scientists reached the northern sections of the state many thousands of wintu had already persished in the first fourty years of contact with white settlers, up to 98% of our people leading scientists estimate.

In the late 1800's after the field of anthrolopogy was created non-indian emmigrants from institutions began studying the lifeways of native peoples all over california, one of the first early anthropologists was Jerimiah Curtain. In his 1864 report on the Wintun reffred to the Northern Wintu of shasta county as being reffered to as the Wailakki by the Nomlakki south of them. The sylable, "Wai-", in Wintun means north in both the central (Wintun) and northern (Wintu) dialects, while the sylable, "-lakki", translates to language or speak also in both regional dialects.

Origin of the term Wailakki was first recorded by euro-american settlers amongst the Wintun of the open Sacramento Valley in the 1840's. First recorded by early spanish land grantee's like John Bidwell (Butte Co.- Maidu tribe) and P. B. Reading (Shasta Co.- Wintu Tribe) the term Wailakki, Wailaki, Y-laki, and the decidedly western euro-american pronounced Ylakkers, all as reffering to the Wintu of the northerly sections of the valley,

In the same time period in 1851, a treaty was signed at Cottonwood Creek with BIA Rep. Wozencraft, and seven chiefs and headmen of the Wintu, that is Northern Wintu of present day shasta county, which agreed to the cession of over 75 million acres of pristine Northern California timber ,agricultural and gold bearing land, in return for on 3.5 milion acres Reservation at Ash Creek, just east of present day Anderson, California.

The treaty was never ratified by congress in 1852, therefore the reservation abandoned and our tribal members that had been caught and herded there, were force marched first the Nome-lakki Reservation in Tehema county. The Nome- Cult Reserve which was also called, was shut down four years later in 1856 and our people again force marched with the Maidu being marched from Chico over the 7000 ft coast range mountains to Covelo, at the Round Valley Reservation.

There again ambiguity with the term wailakki again begins. One of seven tribes sent to Round Valley by the US Government, Achomai (pit river), Maidu, Pomo, Nomlakki (Wintun), Wailakki (used to identify northern wintu being marched into round valley), the term wailakki was used in form by non-indians on reservation rolls both at Ft. Reading, in shasta co. for northern wintu, and at ash creek rez for northern wintu.

The term that was in use in the trinty and humbolt wars of 1856-58 was Kelta, or Redwood tribe or indians. These groups are exsplained by miltary records as originating Eel River, Redood Creek and the south fork of the Trinity River. Or within the range of the area recorded by anthropogists as being the original location of the athabascan speaking Hochnom, Lassik, Sinkyone, Nugahtl, and what was named the "Wailaki". Kroeber stated in 1906"


"The athabascan speaking "Wailakki" of the Eel, Mad and Van Dusen Rivers, as they have been applied, should not be confused with the Penutian Wailakki of the Sacramento Valley, of which the term finds its origins, and where the languages were mutually unitelligable."


Here Kroeber addresses the earlyer application of the Wintu term for north language, to the Athabascan speaking peoples of the Eel River area.Wailaki the term that has been wrongfully recorded as the athabascan term these Eel River people used for themselves. Wailakki is of course wintu, and there-by penutian, in origin.

In 1901 the photographer Edward Curtis recorded of the athabascan speaking wailakki as:


"...the Wailaki group, in Humboldt county, northern Mendocino, and the extreme southwestern corner of Trinity. The occupied areas are now greatly restricted. The Tolowa and Hupa, belonging to that highly specialized culture area of extreme northwestern California, have been described in the preceding volume. The Mattole were all but exterminated about I860, and little can be said of them. The Wailaki group, and particularly the bands that speak the sub-dialects Kato and Wailaki, are to be discussed in the following pages. The Wailaki group includes five sub-dialects, or what might be called five tribes, if only the people were somewhat more definitely organized on tribal lines. Farthest north of this group were the Nongatl, on the middle course of Mad river above Blue Lake (the inland limit of the Algonquian Wiyot territory). South of them were the Lassik, on the upper course of Mad river, and on Eel river and its eastern affluents from the mouth of Van Doosen creek (the limit of the Eel River Wiyot) up to Kekawaka creek. Still farther southward were the Wailaki proper, on Eel river and its north fork, from Kekawaka creek to Yuki territory at Round valley. The Sinkyone territory lay west of the Lassik and Wailaki, principally on the lower South fork of Eel river,..."


Here Edward Curtis records the wailakki as the linguistic parent group name of the athabascans of the Eel River area as a whole, as well as the name of one of the bands, as "Wailaki proper" a linguistic disambiguation.

It was recorded by early Trinity County Pioneers living closely with the Wintu of Hayfork Valley (the Nor el Muk band of Wintu, was closest to the Lassik, Nugahtul, Sinkyone) that the Wintu both, intermarried with the athabascan's from over the Hill at Mad River (Lucy Young Photo), and were in friendly relations with them. Wintu place names within the eel river watershed (athabascan apeaking territory) exist to proove, the knowlege of areas to the east of lands recorded as being within wintu territory. the accepted boundary with the Eel river tribes was and still is a long running continuous ridge in above the south fork named south for ridge. This was the boundary of the athabascan speaking peoples of the Mad River side, ie- Lassik, Sinkyone and Nungahtl.

The Wailaki of the Eel River are not the only tribe in California that had the wrong name given to them by non-indians in direguard for, what have been, diminsihing cultures from our landscape at the hands of these same "euro-amercans" as they have come to be known. The Yuki also were given a name that has Wintu origins. Yuki in northern wintu means enemy, and no translation to the Yuki language (which like Wappo has not been linked to any of the later emerging language groups circa 2000 bp).


In the hisorical era it was white men hearing the word Yuki used generically in reference to any enemy at hand that that moniker "Yuki" was later placed by whites, and later incorrectly by athropologists, as the name for the Hochnom (Yuki) over the coast ranges to east where two groups of Yuki pre-historically inhabited in the Upper Eel River and the second group isolated by the wailakki (athabascan speaking), from their coastal neigbors the Ukhotnom Yuki. the Yuki name for the Wailaki of the Eel River north of them is "Ko-il".

It was when these early pioneers came that they began referring to the Indians over this ridge as Yuki, as thier Indentured Wintu did. The Hochnom of course were geopraphically isolated from the wintu and were therefore a Tribe with which the Wintu never prehistorically had contact. The euro-american settlers, as a result, used the term in reference to the Eel river Indians in the 1850's time as Wailakki, which is in direguard for their true name for the selves which is "Ken-es-te". By this time many wintu had been taken under indenturship laws and moved from their traditional bands locations. It is of note that Powers in 1860 recorded Keneste as a Northern Wintu term for the Wintu band east of the Nor El Muks and within the Hettenshaw upper Mad van Dusen river area.


It is not known at this time (2008) the pre-histoprical connection with the wailakki and cahto branches to the penutial language groups made up of the wintu of trinity county. Wheather these similarities are a result of tribal boundary fluctuations of the penutian into surrounding receeding smaller tribal areas, like the wintu into Shasta Speaking Okwanuchu territory in southern siskiyou county on the upper sacramento and upper mc cloud rivers, and the wintu into Hokan speaking Yana areas of the eastern sacramento valley, and intermarrage directly following the initial genocidal acts seen in the first decades of contact with europeans, removals to recervations and early massacres all had some effect on the population distributions of these peoples, but its historical effect has not yet been studied by liguists. The possible connection of penuatian to these wailaki as a language group or its possible result of intergration and linguistic sharing post-contact. It is difficult to assess these possible scenarios when the historical loss of both languages in daily use among tribal members is factored.

Note on Indentureship- The Indenturship laws (indenturship act link ) enacted shortly after the gold rush were used by european emmigrants to secure native labor for things like mining, harvesting and ranching. It allowed any euro-american settlers and miners around northern california to enslave any indian depriving them of life and freedom without the indian having any right what so ever legally. Many Wintu women were taken by early pioneers after killing entire villages of Wintu, these european's became known as "squaw-men" and were looked upon by other whites as second class citizens.





This article was written for SWF by Matt Root (Wintu) in Feb 2008

1 comment:

Caleen said...

You claim that Wintu people (all 9 bands) speak the same dialect. That is odd, because, in this issue posted by you, you claim that Wai means north and that “lakki” means language or speak. Whose dialect is that? In Winnemem dialect “qol” means language and “tin” means speak or talk. I know that my elder Winnemem speakers talked to the Norel Muk, Cortina Band of Wintun and the Grindstone people, but there is a definite difference in the language dialects. Here is an example of how different the dialects are; In the Norel Muk dialect they call a fir tree “k’iyo q” and in the Winnemem dialect we call a fir tree “t’aqa s”. Languages are a living thing so I’m not sure if you are sharing your El Pom dialect views, Wailaki dialect or someother view. What was your source of expertise for the information you wrote about Wintu language and on the Wailaki, did you interview or consult with them about their language and history?
Winnemem Wintu Tribe is also in the northern Wintu area.