Fall of the Whilkut

The Whilkut are a Northwestern California indigenous tribe, now one of many comprising the Hupa tribe. Historically their territory ranged near the Redwood Creek, Mad River, and Kneeland areas. The settlers nicknamed the Whilkut tribe, “Mad River Indians” and “Redwood Creek Indians” based on their proximity to the aforestated waterways. 

In 1770 the Whilkut tribe had a population of 500, but a consensus taken in 1910 concluded that there were only 50 members who still remained. The sharp decrease in population was the result of events like the ‘Bald Hills War,’ which took place from 1858 to 1864. The Whilkuts came into contact with white invaders when gold was discovered in California in 1850. White Americans settled along the coast and mined for gold in Trinity County. Several trails were utilized from settled coastal areas to the Trinity mines which went directly through Whilkut territory in order to provide supplies to miners as well as delivery from the U.S. postal service.

White settlers disrupted the traditional Whilkut territory and relocated them to nearby reservations (wherein they were grouped with the Hupa and other nearby communities). The response from the Whilkut, Hupa, and allied tribes was met by the combined California militia. 

Some returned to see their land completely desecrated and they retaliated by raiding their livestock and crops. In the end the Whilkut were forced into either the outskirts of their territory where survival was hardly sustainable or onto neighboring tribal reservations. 

"The genocide and deprivation caused by the foreign settlers caused Kroeber to state, in 1925 that 'The Whilkut are practically unknown.'"-Norton 


Heather Burger, Naomi Guillory, Austin Rinehart, Alyssa Garza, Jonathan Aguilar (Fall 2016)