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Chinook Indians

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

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)

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.