The Whilkut also known as "Redwood Creek Indians" or "Mad River Indians" were an Athapaskan tribe, speaking a dialect similar to the Hupa and Chilula, who inhabited the area on or near the upper Redwood Creek and along the Mad River except near its mouth, up to Iaqua Butte, and some settlement in Grouse Creek in the Trinity River drainage in Northwestern California, before contact with Europeans.
The Whilkut may then be divided into four subgroups (tribelets):
- the Chilula Whilkut (Lower Redwood Indians) (by Goddard and Kroeber the ″Chilula Whilkut″ would occupy essentially the territory assigned to the Chilula and are considered a separate tribe called Chilula)
- the Kloki Whilkut / Prairie Whilkut (Upper Redwood Indians)
- the Mad River Whilkut, and
- the North Fork Whilkut.
Little is known of the Whilkut culture beyond its similarity to that of the Hupa and that they were considered by the Hupa and Chilula as a poorer, backward, less settled hill people. Following the gold rush in Northwestern California, routes of pack trains between Humboldt Bay and Weaverville, California, lay through their territory, and their population, never large, was drastically reduced in the 1858-1864 Bald Hills War. Estimated to have 250-350 warriors at the start of the war, the survivors were taken to the Hupa reservation soon after its establishment. After 1870 they drifted back to their traditional homes where they continued to live. Only 50 remained in the 1910 census. In 1972 only a remnant was left, perhaps only 20 to 25 individuals.
- California Athabascan Groups
- Letter from General Kibbe to Governor Weller, State Archives, 1858
- Kroeber, Handbook of the Indians of California, p. 141
- Robert Heizer, William C. Sturtevant, Handbook of North American Indians: California, Volume 3; Government Printing Office, Washington, 1978; Whilkut, pp. 178-179
- Alfred Louis Kroeber, Handbook of the Indians of California, Volume 1, Kessinger Publishing, 2006, pp. 123, 141.
- Hupa, Chilula, and Whilkut by William J. Wallace from Robert Heizer, William C. Sturtevant, Handbook of North American Indians: California, Volume 3, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1978, pp. 178-179
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