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For other uses, see Hupa (disambiguation).
Hupa mother and infant, ca. 1924, photo by Edward Curtis
Total population
2140 enrolled (1990)[1]
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( California)
English, Hupa
Related ethnic groups
Chilula and Whilkut[1]
A Hupa man with his spear

Hupa are a Native American people of the Athabaskan-speaking ethnolinguistic group in northwestern California. Their endonym is Natinixwe, also spelled Natinook-wa, meaning "People of the Place Where the Trails Return".[2] The majority of the tribe is enrolled in the Federally recognized Hoopa Valley Tribe.


wood plank and rock Hupa sweat house

The Hupa people migrated from the north into northern California around 1000 CE [1] and settled in Hoopa Valley, California (Hupa: Natinook). Their heritage language is Hupa, which is a member of the Athabaskan language family. Their land stretched from the South Fork of the Trinity River to Hoopa Valley, to the Klamath River in California. Their red cedar-planked houses, dugout canoes, basket hats, and many elements of their oral literature identify them with their northern origin; however, some of their customs, such as the use of a sweat house for ceremonies and the manufacture of acorn bread, were adopted from surrounding indigenous peoples of California.

Hupa people had limited contact with non-native peoples until the 1849 Gold Rush brought an influx of miners onto their lands.[1] In 1864, the United States government signed a treaty that recognized the Hupa tribe's sovereignty to their land. The United States called the reservation the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation (located at 41°05′57″N 123°40′21″W / 41.09917°N 123.67250°W / 41.09917; -123.67250), where the Hupa now reside, one of very few California tribes not forced from their homeland. The reservation is next to the territory of the Yurok at the connection of the Klamath and Trinity Rivers in northeastern Humboldt County. The reservation has a land area of 141.087 square miles (365.41 km2).

Hupa female shaman, c.1923, Edward Curtis



Hupa people have traditionally excelled at basketry, elk horn carving, and since the 17th century, petroglyphs.[3]


The Hupa use the acorns of Notholithocarpus densiflorus to make meal, from which they would make mush, bread, biscuits, pancakes, and cakes. They also roast the acorns and eat them.[4] They also use the dyed fronds of Woodwardia radicans for basketry.[5] They also use Xerophyllum tenax to create a border pattern in baskets. [6]


The Hupa, like many tribes in the area, fished for salmon in the Klamath and Trinity rivers. One of the methods used to capture fish was the fish weir which members of the tribe would maintain. The Hupa share a lot of their fishing practices with the Yurok.[7] The Hupa people would rely on the Spring and Fall Chinook Salmon runs to stock up on their supply of fish, which along with acorns was a large part of their diet. Since the Hupa were not located as close to the sea as their neighboring Yurok tribe, they would trade supplies with them, such as salt for baskets or acorns for canoes.[8] The Hupa have also been involved in the talks of dam removal along the Klamath and Trinity rivers.


Further information: Population of Native California

Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. Alfred L. Kroeber thought that the 1770 population of the Hupa was 1,000 and that the Chilula and Whilkut accounted for another 1,000. Kroeber estimated the population of the Hupa in 1910 as 500.[9] In 1943, Sherburne F. Cook proposed an aboriginal population of 1,000 for the Hupa and 600 for the Chilula.[10] He subsequently suggested a population for the Hupa alone of 2,900.[11] William J. Wallace felt that the latter estimate was "much too high", and allowed 1,000 for the Hupa, 500–600 for the Chilula, and 500 for the Whilkut.[12] The Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation has a resident population of 2,633 persons according to the 2000 census.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Pritzker 2000, p. 126.
  2. ^ Pritzker 2000xkxkx, p. 126.
  3. ^ Pritzker 2000, p. 127.
  4. ^ Merriam 1966, p. 200.
  5. ^ Murphey 1990, p. 4.
  6. ^ Murphey 1990, p. 2.
  7. ^ "On the Water - Fishing for a Living, 1840-1920: The Salmon Coast". Retrieved 2016-02-25. 
  8. ^ "California Indians". Retrieved 2016-05-05. 
  9. ^ Kroeber 1925, pp. 883.
  10. ^ Cook 1976, pp. 170.
  11. ^ Cook 1956, pp. 99–100.
  12. ^ Wallace 1978, p. 176.



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