Hupa Texts

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The Chilula believed they came from a large hollow redwood tree. People were only one of many important elements on Earth. Spirits were believed to be present in all things, and everything in nature was to be respected and tended. Everyday life was filled with uncertainty as the Hupa and Chilula people grappled with the elements, disease, fear, and the threat of war. Religion helped people cope.

The Native Americans practiced many daily rituals to promote good health, wealth, and luck. They also performed formal rituals established by the Immortals. Christians established missions on the reservation in the late s, and some Native people converted to the new religion. Their traditional rituals, however, remained a central part of their lives.

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Hupa and Chilula languages were closely related. Language was regarded as holy; nothing in the natural world was as powerful as the words used in prayers. Words could not only heal but could also do great evil. As the Chilula were absorbed into the reservation system, their language perished. This method of learning has been increasing the number of younger speakers in the tribe.

Before the program began, only a few elders spoke Hupa. By , sixty-four youth between the ages of five and seventeen could speak the language. The most important tribal unit among the northwestern California Indians was the village; there was no single chief who headed the entire Hupa or Chilula nations. Villages were composed of groups of people who shared the same family tree. Each village maintained its own version of law and order and was guided by a chief or powerful leader, usually the wealthiest or most popular man in the village.

Occasionally a group of wealthy Hupa men gathered to resolve disputes or decide on a payment for breaking rules. Sometimes agents broke the laws they were supposed to be upholding, as when they allowed whites to harvest grain planted by the Native Americans. Then the Native Americans experienced a food shortage and had to ask for government handouts.

Hupa Texts

In the mid-twentieth century many tribes became less dependent on the federal government as they established their own leadership. The Hoopa Valley Tribe adopted a constitution in In the early twenty-first century they are governed by a seven-member elected tribal council. Members represent districts that were formerly Hupa villages. The tribal government oversees many departments including health, education, natural resources, communication, human services, finances, and tribal services.

The tribe also participates in the Self-Governance Demonstration Project. This project helps tribes exercise their rights to be self-governing, structure their own programs, and use federal funds in ways that benefit the tribe. For example, after the nearby hospital closed in the late s, all emergency patients had to be transported 65 miles away.

Although the Hoopa came up with the funding, federal regulations prevented them from reopening the hospital. Since then they have been working to ensure that all tribes have the right to develop their own health care systems.

The Hupa were primarily fishers, and the abundant resources of the Trinity River amply supplied their needs. They traveled the river in large canoes dug out of to foot 5-meter lengths of redwood and cedar, which they received in trade from the Yurok.

Often they journeyed by foot on well-used trails over the mountains to the Pacific Coast to trade, taking acorns and other foods they had gathered, plus shell money, to exchange for fish and dried seaweed. They extracted salt from the seaweed.

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The Chilula had to rely on the less abundant resources of Redwood Creek. Because this waterway was too small for canoes to travel, the Chilula supplemented their needs with what they could obtain by hunting and gathering. Repayment of debt was considered a pressing issue among the Hupa and Chilula. People who had borrowed from others and could not repay the debt had to go to work for the person they owed until the debt was repaid.

Records indicate that indebted men would often send their daughters to work to pay off the debt. Unlike many Native American tribes whose hunting and gathering lands were owned by all, the Hupa and Chilula permitted individual ownership of hunting and gathering areas. In terms of fishing rights, the Hupa allowed individuals to claim certain sites; the Chilula, however, did not. By the late s the Hoopa Valley Reservation was the largest in size, population, and income in California.

With a thriving timber business, its historic sites and recreational center, gaming, and retail enterprises; the Hoopa Valley Reservation has become largely self-sufficient in the early twenty-first century. The tribe owns California Indian Manpower Corporation, which provides jobs for many different tribes. The tribal government is the second largest employer in the county. In addition to agriculture and livestock, the reservation also owns fisheries and operates mines and a cement plant.

Northwestern California Indian families usually included a father, a mother, their children, and a few unmarried relatives. They lived in single-family homes in villages ranging in size from six to thirty homes. Hupa and Chilula families spent most of the year in sturdy, rectangular redwood or cedar plank houses that lasted for generations. The wealthier the family, the bigger the house and the more desirable its location; the best sites might be on hillsides, for example, which offered better views and protection from floods.

Houses were constructed over a pit at least 5 feet 1—2 meters deep. A notched plank served as a staircase, leading down from the front door to the floor of the sunken dwelling.

Sample text in Hupa

Homes often included a front porch made of rocks, where people sat and worked. In spring and fall the people moved to a gathering territory and lived in temporary shelters made of brush or bark. Like many tribes of the West, the Hupa and Chilula built separate lodges for women who were menstruating. The men believed that exposure to menstrual blood would ruin their good luck.

Men purified themselves before hunting and gathering by sitting in sweathouses—secluded huts or caverns heated by steam and used for ritual cleansing and meditation.

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Some villages also contained circular dance houses where wealthy men hosted lavish ceremonies. The Hupa and Chilula dressed alike. Because the climate was mild, men usually wore only an animal-skin breechcloth a garment with front and back flaps that hung from the waist , though many of the elderly men went nude.

Women wore only a knee-length fringed apron of pine nuts braided onto grass. Over this they tied a piece of deerskin, open down the front so the underskirt showed. Dressier skirts had clamshell and abalone decorations. Later they adopted buckskin shirts and aprons, adding a fringed skirt threaded with shells for certain ceremonies. Sometimes Chilula women wore dresses of maplewood bark. Though the Hupa occasionally wore moccasins for long journeys and men wore leggings while hunting, they usually went barefoot.

Women wore caps to protect their heads while carrying baskets and cradles. In the winter the Hupa wore robes of animal skin for added warmth. These were made of deerskin or the fur of wildcats, raccoons, coyotes, civets, or other small mammals. Both men and women had long hair; they parted it in the center and arranged it into two ropes that they pulled in front of the shoulders. Some men wore a single rope behind their heads.