Chinook Indians

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Chinook Indians. From Tsinuk, their Chehalis name. Also called:

  • Ala’dshush, Nestucca name.
  • Flatheads, a name shared with a number of other tribes in the region from
  • their custom of deforming the head.
  • Thldla’h, Clackama name.

Chinook Connections. The Chinook belonged to the Lower Chinook division of the Chinookan family.

Chinook Location. On the north side of the Columbia River from its mouth to Grays Bay (not Grays Harbor), a distance of about 15 miles, and north along the seacoast to include Willapa or Shoalwater Bay. Ray (1938) makes a separate division to include the Shoalwater Chinook but it will be more convenient to treat them under one head. It is understood that they differed not at all in dialect.

Chinook Villages

(As given by Ray (1938), except as otherwise indicated)

  • Clamoitomish (Sapir, 1930), in Grays Bay.
  • Hakelsh, at the mouth of Smith Creek on the northeast shore of Willapa Bay.
  • Hwa’hots, at a former settlement called Bruceport about 3 miles north of the mouth of Palix River.
  • Ini’sal, on Naselle River where it enters the arm of Willapa Bay.
  • Iwa’lhat, at the mouth of Wallicut River, which bears its name in a corrupted form.
  • Kalawa’uus, on the peninsula at Oysterville Point.
  • Killaxthokle (Lewis and Clark, 1905-6), probably on Willapa Bay.
  • Kwatsa’mts, on Baker Bay at the mouth of Chinook River, north side of the Columbia.
  • Lapi’lso, on an island in an arm of Willapa Bay below the mouth of Naselle River.
  • Ma’hu, at the mouth of Nemah River below the present town of Nemah.
  • Mo’kwal, at the mouth of Deep River on Grays Bay.
  • Nahume’nsh, on the west side of North River at its mouth on the north shore of Willapa Bay.
  • Namla’iks, at Goose Point.
  • Na’mstcats, at a site now called Georgetown between Tokeland and North Cove.
  • Nokska’itmithls, at Fort Canby on Cape Disappointment.
  • No’skwalakuthl, at Ilwaco, named after its last chief.
  • Nu’kaunthl, at Tokeland, named after its chief.
  • Nu’patstcthl, at the site of Nahcotta, on the peninsula opposite the mouth of Nemah River.
  • Nutskwethlso’k, on Willapa Bay west of Bay Center.
  • Nuwi’lus, on the site of Grayland on the coast.
  • Quela’ptonlilt (Swan, 1857), at the mouth of Willapa River.
  • Querquelin (Swan), at the mouth of Querquelin River, which flows into Palix River from the south near the mouth of the latter.
  • Se’akwal, on the north bank of the Columbia a short distance below Mo’kwal.
  • Tokpi’luks, at the mouth of Palix River.
  • Tse’yuk, at Oysterville on the peninsula north of Nahcotta.
  • Tske’lsos, on Willapa River between South Bend and Raymond.
  • Ya’kamnok, at Sandy Point 3 miles south of Goose Point, the extreme north point at Bay Center.

Chinook History. Though the Chinook bad been known to traders for an indefinite period previously, they were first described by Lewis and Clark, who visited them in 1805. From their proximity to Astoria and their intimate relations with the early traders, they soon became well known, and their language formed the chief Indian basis for the Chinook jargon, first employed as a trade language, which ultimately extended from California to Alaska. In the middle of the nineteenth century they became mixed with the Chehalis with whom they ultimately fused entirely, dropping their own language. The Chinook of later census returns are composed of a number of other tribes of the same stock.

Chinook Population. Mooney (1928) estimates that there were 800 of these Indians in 1780, “including the Chinook and Killaxthokl.” In 1805 Lewis and Clark gave 400 on Columbia River alone. In 1885 Swan states that there were 112. They are now nearly extinct though Ray (1938) discovered three old people still living as late as 1931-36.

Connection in which the Chinook have become noted. The name of the Chinook tribe became famous

  1. Because of intimate dealings between the Chinook and British and American traders.
  2. On account of the extension of their name to the related tribes now classed in the Chinookan stock.
  3. Because the name was also extended to the Chinook jargon or Oregon Trade Language known throughout the entire Northwest.
  4. Because of its application to the Chinook or Pacific wind.
  5. From its application to towns in Pacific County, Washington, and Blaine County, Montana.



MLA Source Citation:

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953. AccessGenealogy.com. Web. 24 April 2014. http://www.accessgenealogy.com/native/chinook-indians.htm - Last updated on Jun 22nd, 2012


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