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Total population
(200 (1977),
1,350 combined with Achomawi (2000)[1])
Regions with significant populations
Atsugewi, English
traditional tribal religion
Related ethnic groups
other members of the Pit River Tribe, including Achomawi

The Atsugewi are Native Americans residing in northeastern California, United States. Their traditional lands are near Mount Shasta, specifically the Pit River drainage on Burney, Hat, and Dixie Valley or Horse Creeks. They are closely related to the Achomawi and consisted of two groups (the Atsugé and the Apwaruge). The Atsugé ("pine-tree people") traditionally are from the Hat Creek area, and the Apwaruge ("juniper-tree people") are from the Dixie Valley. They lived to the south of the Achomawi.[2]


The Atsugewi traditionally lived by hunting and gathering and lived in small groups without centralized political authority.

Atsugewi manufactured bows were prized by the neighboring Klamath, Paiute, Modoc and Achomawi. Called dumidiyi, the bows were of a similar design to those made by the Yurok. The best dumidiyi were made of yew wood by the Atsug band, who were primarily located in Hat Creek Valley. As fairly peaceable relations developed with Paiute by 1870, these yew bows became a common trade item.[3] The visiting Paiute would bring stockpiles of "buckskins, red ochre, glass beads, guns, and especially olivella beads" to be exchanged for Atsugewi basket and bow goods in addition to "some beads".[4]

The Tolowa, Shasta, Yurok, Klamath, Astugewi and groups of Western Mono and Paiute were among those known to have adopted buckskin clothing from the distant Plains Indians.[5] For the Astugewi, this relatively new clothing was called dwákawi.[6] They didn’t employ a system of consistently smoking the fresh skins. Only buckskins for formal occasions were smoked, leaving daily worn buckskins prone to water damage. The Astugewi potentially didn’t recognise the water resistance given the smoking process. Garth conjectured that the treating the buckskins with smoke was a recent development, having "a close connection with the introduction of buckskin clothing itself" but lacked direct evidence of this trend.[7]


The Atsugewi language is a Palaihnihan language. As of 1994, an estimated three people spoke Atsugewi.[1] The majority of the tribe speaks English.


Today many Atsugewi are enrolled in the Pit River Tribe, while some Atsugewi people are members of the Susanville Indian Rancheria.[8]


Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. Alfred L. Kroeber estimated the combined 1770 population of the Achumawi and Atsugewi as 3,000.[9] A more detailed analysis by Fred B. Kniffen arrived at the same figure.[10] T. R. Garth (1978:237) estimated the Atsugewi population at a maximum of 850.[11]

Kroeber estimated the combined population of the Achumawi and Astugewi in 1910 as 1,100. The population was given as about 500 in 1936.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Atsugewi." Ethnologue. Retrieved 20 Dec 2011.
  2. ^ Waldman, Carl. Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes, Third Edition. (New York: Checkmark Books, 2006) p. 2
  3. ^ Garth 1953, p. 153.
  4. ^ Garth 1953, p. 183.
  5. ^ Garth 1953, p. 145 fn 13.
  6. ^ Garth 1953, p. 145.
  7. ^ Garth 1953, p. 148.
  8. ^ California Indians and Their Reservations: S. San Diego State University Library and Information Access. 2009 (retrieved 27 June 2010)
  9. ^ a b Kroeber 1925, p. 883.
  10. ^ Kniffen 1928, p. 318.
  11. ^ Garth, T. R. Atsugewi. In Handbook of North American Indians, William C. Sturtevant, general editor, vol. 8, California, edited by Robert F. Heizer, pp. 236-243. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., 1978. p. 237


  • Kniffen, Fred B. (1928), Achomawi Geography, University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, 23, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, pp. 297–332 
  • Garth, Thomas R. (1953), Atsugewi Ethnography, Anthropological Records, 14 (2), Berkeley: University of California Press 
  • Golla, Victor (2011), California Indian Languages, Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, ISBN 978-0-520-26667-4 

External links[edit]