Lower Chinook and Clatsop
Traditional Culture
  Since Time Immemorial
Who's Who
Village Life
Inter-Village Relations
Seasonal Round
"Celiast" and "Ilchee"
Intertribal Trade Network
Canoe People
References Cited

  Contemporary Culture
Environmental History
Cultural History
Recommended Websites

  Relationship with U.S.
  Early Coastal Exploration
Strangers Arrive
Maritime Fur Trade
Fort Clatsop Winter
Overland Fur Trade
Disease and Burial Customs
Fisheries, Missions, and Settlements
Shrinking Land Base
Making Treaties
Recognition and U.S. Relations
References Cited

Portion of 1821 Map of the Columbia,
by Alexander Ross.
Courtesy of the Ellensburg Public Library.
Looking across the mouth of the Columbia, from Point Stevens on the south shore.
K. Lugthart photo
Driftwood at Skemokawa
S. Thompson photo
Salt marsh on north end of Long Beach, hills in view are on east shore of Willapa Bay.
K. Lugthart photo
Middle Nemah River
Kim Lugthart photo
Inlet near Cape Disappointment
S. Thompson photo

Willapa Bay from Bay Center; Stony point
Old growth fir giants
K. Lugthart

Fort Clatsop > Culture > Homelands
Illustration by James Niehues-www.jamesniehues.com.
Provided by Aquarius Associates.

"The position of the Tsinuk was... most important. Occupying both sides of the great artery of Oregon for a distance of two hundred miles, they possessed the principal thoroughfare between the interior and the ocean, boundless resources of provision of various kinds, and facilities for trade almost unequaled on the Pacific" (Gibbs 1877:165).

Portion of 1877 Gibbs map illustrating "Tsinuk" homelands along the Columbia River.
(Gibbs: 1877)
Saddle Mountain

"Well, probably the most significant thing you'd see if you come here is Saddle Mountain. If you look across from the other side of the river, or from Astoria, Young's Bay, if you look south, you see Saddle Mountain, and that is a very, very very important place. but it's in Old Chinook, and it's Walawahoof" (Tony Johnson interview: 2002).

Aerial view of Saddle Mountain with Youngs River to the left,
Lewis and Clark River on right.
Jim Niehues photo
Pillar Rock, Taluaptea

Homelands are known by landmarks. People of the Lower Columbia, before road maps became the guide to the landscape, knew where they were by distinctive land- and water-scape features such as large rocks, mountains, cliffs, waterfalls, rivers, and bays. Saddle Mountain is the most visible feature of the landscape from most parts of the Lower Chinook homeland. Pillar Rock is one of the most distinctive features within the mouth of the Columbia.

The Wilkes party, in August of 1841, headed their ship upstream to survey the area,

"... and anchored just below the Pillar Rock, and opposite to Waikaikum. Waikaikum belongs to a chief named Shamakewea, and is a large lodge, picketed around with planks.

"Pillar Rock is called by the Indians Taluaptea, after the name of a chief, who in bygone days lived at the falls of the Columbia, and who, having incurred the displeasure of their spirit, called Talapos, was turned into a rock, and placed where he would be washed by the waters of the great river. The rock is twenty-five feet high, and only ten feet square at its top: it is composed of conglomerate or puddingstone, and is fast crumbling to pieces. I found great difficulty in ascending it" (Wilkes 1845:120).

Pillar Rock
Photo by Carlton Appelo, courtesy of the Pacific County Friends of Lewis and Clark

Pillar Rock today
(what's left of it).
Clatsop-Nehalem Place Names

Village Bands

Chinook speakers spread over a wide area, but they identified themselves by the location of their village.

"Most of the towns and places here, that are clearly native like Kalama or Cathlamet, are named for the people of that place. The beginning of Cathlamet – Cathla - is the same for Cathlaphoots, that's Cathlapotle, and that beginning part refers to the people of that place. So, "the ones who were already doing something there" is kind of what it is saying. Cathlama, I think, is 'the people that are always at that rock'. Cathlamet is something similar to the rocky cliff, the rocky shore" (Tony Johnson interview: 2002).

Clatsop Homeland

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Dick Basch

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Background: Adapted from 1853 Colton map of Washington and Oregon.
Courtesy of Washington State University Libaries.