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Settlers decimated small Chilula tribe

By Cornelia de Bruin

Triplicate staff writer

From a tribe that was estimated 150 years ago to number 500-600 people, the Chilula Indians were reduced to "two or three families and a few persons incorporated with the Hupa" within a few short years of contact with white settlers during the mid .

The Chilula spoke an Atha-pascan language, and they were connected with the Hupa and Whilkut Indians.

They called themselves the Tsulu-la, the "people of Tsulu," after the name of their home.

Locally, they were known as the Bald Hills Indians, and lived on and near Redwood Creek from near the inland edge of the heavy redwood belt to a few miles above Minor Creek.

Like the other tribes in Northern California, the Tsulu-la were in the whites' way during the 1850s.

The whites' trails from Trinidad and Humboldt Bay to the gold camps on the Klamath and Trinity crossed the Bald Hills.

And like the other tribes, they suffered harsh treatment at the hands of the incoming migration.

The tribe was rounded up and moved to the Hoopa Reservation and to Fort Bragg.

Blood feuds took their toll, and by 1919 the Chilula were nearly decimated.

Before the whites moved into this area, seven societies existed: the Tolowa, Yurok, Wiyot, Karok (identified in A.J. Bledsoe's history of Del Norte County as the "Red Caps"), Hupa and Whilkut.

The Yurok, Hupa and Karok shared a common civilization and ceremonial life.

It was "clearly apart" from the surrounding Indian peoples, according to writings posted by various anthropologists.

Some of its features were shared by the Chilula, Tolowa and Wiyot.

"What is truly remarkable about the sharing between the Yurok, Hupa and Karok is that the three nations had widely different roots in remote times," states the AccessGenealogy Website.

 


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