|400 to 1,000|
|Regions with significant populations|
| United States
( California, Oregon)
|Tolowa language, English language|
|Traditional tribal religion,
previously Indian Shaker religion
|Related ethnic groups|
|Chetco and Tutuni|
The Tolowa people or Taa-laa-wa Dee-ni’ are a Native American people of the Athabaskan-speaking ethnolinguistic group. They still reside in their traditional territories in northwestern California and southern Oregon. Tolowa are members of the federally recognized Smith River Rancheria, Elk Valley Rancheria, Confederated Tribes of Siletz, Trinidad Rancheria, as well as the unrecognized Tolowa Nation.
Their Taa-laa-waa-dvn (“Tolowa-Ancestral-Land”) lies along the Pacific Coast between the water sheds of Wilson Creek and Smith River basin and vicinity in northwestern California and the Winchuck, Chetco, Pistol, Rogue, Elk and Sixes Rivers, extending inland up the Rogue River throughout the Applegate Valley in southwestern Oregon in the United States; roughly what are today Curry, Josephine and Del Norte Counties. The area was bounded by Port Orford, Oregon to the north and Wilson Creek, north of the Klamath River, in California to the south. They lived in approximately eight permanent villages in what is now California and Oregon, including on Crescent Bay and Lake Earl.
Their tribal neighbors are the Coquille and Umpqua to the north, Takelma, Shasta and Karuk to the east and the Yurok to the south.
The name "Tolowa" is derived from Taa-laa-welh (Taa-laa-wa) an Algonquian name given to them by the Yurok (Klamath River People). Taa-laa-welh is the Yurok name for, the most important village, Yan’-daa-k’vt. In all, there are more than twenty-eight (28) various names the Tolowa have been documented as by anthropologists, linguists and the Federal Government.
They called themselves in a politically sense also Dee-ni’, which means to be a citizen of a yvtlh-’i~ (polity). The ancient Dee-ni’ Taa-laa-waa-dvn was divided into governance yvtlh-’i~. In the case here the name Taa-laa-wa Dee-ni’ it describes them as citizens of the Taa-laa-waa-dvn.
They have traditionally spoken Taa-laa-wa Dee-ni' Wee-ya' (Tolowa Dee-ni' Language), the Tolowa language, one of the Athapaskan languages. Their subsistence was oriented around riverine and marine resources and acorns. Their society was not formally stratified, but considerable stress was put on personal wealth.
Tolowa villages were organized around a headman and usually consisted of related men. The men brought wives in from neighboring tribes. The brides were usually related (sisters), in order for the wealth to remain in the paternal families.
The Tolowa or Dee-ni’ population exceeded ten-thousand. Epidemics hit the Tolowa before face-to-face contact with non-natives. Jedediah Smith and his exploration party were the first known non-native to contact the Tolowa in 1828. During the 1850s, over half of the Tolowa people died from disease and mass murders by Anglo-Americans, such as the Yontoket Massacre and the Achulet Massacre. In 1860, after the Chetco/Rogue River War, 600 Tolowas were forcibly relocated to Indian reservations in Oregon. Later, some were moved to the Hoopa Valley Reservation in California. The tribe embraced the Ghost Dance religion from 1872 to 1882.
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. Various estimates for the 1770 population of Tolowa have ranged from as low as 450 to an upper end around 2,400.
- Tolowa language
- Tolowa traditional narratives
- Eunice Bommelyn, Tolowa historian, genealogist and language advocate
- Loren Bommelyn
- Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1, p. 147
- California Indians and Their Reservations: Population. San Diego State University Library and Information Access. 2009 (retrieved 5 Dec 2010)
- The Smith River Rancheria. (retrieved 8 April 2009)
- "Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria." Alliance for California Traditional Arts. 2009. Retrieved 26 June 2012.
- California Indians and Their Reservations. San Diego State University Library and Information Access. 2009 (retrieved 8 April 2009)
- Bright, William; Susan Gehr. "Karuk Dictionary and Texts". Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- Gould, Richard A. (18 February 1966). "The Wealth Quest Among the Tolowa Indians of Northwestern California". Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society 110 (1): 67–89. Retrieved 6 January 2013.
- See Population of Native California
- Kroeber, A. L. 1925. Handbook of the Indians of California. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 78. Washington, D.C., p. 883
- Baumhoff, Martin A. 1963. "Ecological Determinants of Aboriginal California Populations". University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 49:155-236.231
- Cook, Sherburne F. 1943. The Conflict between the California Indian and White Civilization I: The Indian Versus the Spanish Mission. Ibero-Americana No. 21. University of California, Berkeley, p. 170
- Cook, Sherburne F. 1956. "The Aboriginal Population of the North Coast of California". Anthropological Records 16:81-130. University of California, Berkeley, p.101
- Collins, James. 1996. Understanding Tolowa Histories: Western Hegemonies and Native American Responses. London: Routledge.
- Drucker, Philip. 1937. "The Tolowa and their Southwest Oregon Kin". University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 36:221-300. Berkeley.
- Gould, Richard A. 1978. "Tolowa". In California, edited by Robert F. Heizer, pp. 128–136. Handbook of North American Indians, William C. Sturtevant, general editor, vol. 8. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
- Elk Valley Rancheria
- Official Tolowa Tribe of the Smith River Rancheria website
- About the Tolowa Nation
- "Marr / Harrington sound recordings : Tolowa". Collections Search Center, Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2012-07-20.
- Clinton Hart Merriam photograph collection, Images of Tolowa People