Sunday, 14 February 2016

Yurok Tribe           

The Yurok tribe originate from North Western California. They are known for being good fishermen, eelers, basket weavers, canoe makers, storytellers, singers, dancers, healers and strong medicine people. The villages could be located on the Klamath river, with houses being built from materials such as redwood planks that were split from logs and would be tied together with grapevines. Every village would have several family homes and sweat houses. According to the Yurok's traditional stories the redwood trees are sacred living beings, even though they use the trees to build houses and canoes the redwood is still respected as they are believed to be guardians over their sacred pace. 

The main source of food for the Yurok was acorns with fish which would most likely be salmon. Also they had a good source of deer to hunt for meat, in the summer bulbs would be dug and seeds would be harvested. They would collect salt from the seaweed and if a whale was washed onto the shore this would be considered to be prize meat, however they would never hunt for whales. 

By 1849 more and more settlers were staring to move in to Northern California due to the discovery of gold. At first the settlers would make trades with the tribe but as more settlers arrived the attitudes towards each other soon became more hostile. The government was pressured to change laws in order to protect the Yuroks from loss of land and assault but the settlers did not care about this they just wanted to find as much gold as possible. As a result of this Native Americans were killed as settlers passed through, in the process destroying the villages too. By the end of the gold rush era at least 75% of the Yurok people died as a result of bloody massacres and disease, other tribes in California saw a 95% loss of life. Even though the death toll percentage is high for the Yurok tribe when it it put in context with the area of California as a whole it enhances the severity of the impact of the gold rush on innocent human life.

Treaty negotiations also took place between the Native Americans and the white men despite the reluctance from the local tribes and were very much opposed to meeting with Redick Mckee, the representative sent from Congress. This was due to masses of complaints from the settlers to Congress complaining that the Native Americans were receiving an excess of valuable land and resources. Consequently Congress rejected the treaties and did not notify the tribe about this decision. 

Interestingly, to this day the Yurok Tribe is the largest tribe in California with over 5000 enrolled members. They include the local community and are open to enrolling new members into the tribe. They also have a council that discusses issues and solves any issues that arise from the people.

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