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


Read anthropologist Verne Ray’s passage about a dispute between the Clatsops and Chinook.

Chinook warrior in elkhide armor,
from Museum exhibit.

© Canadian Museum of Civilization, catalogue no. VII-X-1075, S94-13411

“The [Chinook] natives differed in nothing materially from those we had visited during the summer [Nutka], but in the decoration of their persons; in this respect they surpassed all the other tribes with paints of different colors, feathers and ornaments" (Broughton in Ray 1936:61).

Fort Clatsop > Culture > Inter-Village Relations
According to Mrs. Luscier, “The chiefs of various villages never met together for formal council. Lives would have been in danger since relations were more often strained than amicable. Inter-village demands for blood-money or war settlements brought chiefs together but warriors from both sides were always present" (Ray 1936:57).

Yvonne Hajda writes about inter-tribal conflict in her doctoral dissertation about social organization on the Lower Columbia, during the fur-trade era. (Hajda 1984:216,217) The following is an excerpt from her work.

Franchere describes intervillage conflicts and indicates their formalized nature:

“As all the villages form so many independent sovereignties, differences sometimes arise, whether between the chiefs or the tribes. Ordinarily, these terminate by compensations equivalent to the injury. But when the latter is of a grave character, like a murder (which is rare) or the abduction of a woman (which is very common), the parties, having made sure of a number of young braves to aid them, prepare for war.

“Before commencing hostilities, however, they give notice of the day when they will proceed to attack the hostile village... these people... embark in their canoes, which on these occasions are paddled by the women, repair to the hostile village, enter into parley, and do all they can to terminate the affair amicably: sometimes a third party becomes mediator between the first two, and of course observes an exact neutrality.

“If those who seek justice do not obtain it to their satisfaction, they retire to some distance, and the combat begins, and is continued for some time with fury on both sides; but as soon as one or two men are killed, the party which has lost these, owns itself beaten and the battle ceases. If it is the people of the village attacked who are worsted, the others do not retire without receiving presents.

“When the conflict is postponed until the next day (for they never fight but in open daylight, as if to render nature witness of their exploits), they keep up frightful cries all night long, and, when they are sufficiently near to understand each other, defy one another by menaces, railleries, and sarcasms... The women and children are always removed from the village before the action" (Franchere in Huntington 1854:330-331).

Their combats are almost all maritime; for they fight ordinarily in their pirogues, when they take care to careen, so as to present the broadside to the enemy, and half lying down, avoid the greater part of the arrows let fly at them.

The “young braves" who fought were paid (Cox 1957: 173, Franchere in Lamb 1969: 104), probably in valuables.

Speaking of the arrival of some Chehalis at the Chinook village to pursue a dispute, Henry comments:

“It seems strange that savages who are at variance, and bent upon fighting in a few days, should be together in the same village, apparently on good terms; but such are the customs of these people. No thirst for blood causes them to engage in war – merely a point of honor, to be satisfied by presents either in goods or slaves, or by blood; and this etiquette once settled, they are friends again. Concomly invited us over to see the fight, which was to take place at Chinook point" (Henry in Coues 1897 2:855).

In January of 1796, Captain Bishop wrote:

“These People carry their wars, sometimes, to a great distance from their home. About six years ago, the Chinnook tribes united, went with 100 large War Cannoes, and near 100 Smaller ones, twenty days travel up that River, when they came to some great Water fall, up which they Dragged their Cannoes into a lake, over which they Paddled ten days more and in the night came unawares on a large tribe in­habiting the farther shores of this lake. The men where totally distroyed, and the Women and Children made Slaves and brought to Chinnook in Triumph. The cause of this distructive Expidition, I never could rightly understand, and wither they where urged on, or By Avirice or Revenge remains unknown to us" (Bishop 1967:127).