Klamath Indians

Klamath Indians. A word of uncertain origin but probably used first by Columbia River or other outside tribes. Their own name is máklaks, meaning “people,” “community.” They are also called:

  • Afgspaluma, abbreviated to Afgspalo, Afspalu; Nez Percé name for all Indians on Klamath Reservation and in the vicinity, meaning “people of the chipmunks.”
  • Alámmimakt ish (from ala’mmig, “Upper Klamath Lake”), said to be the Achomawi name.
  • Athlámeth, Calapooya name.
  • Aúlksiwash, in Yreka dialect of Shasta.
  • Dak’-ts!aam-al-ae or Dak`-ts!aaw-an-a’e, “those above the lakes,” by the Takelma.
  • É-ukshik-ni máklaks, meaning “people of the lakes,” also their own name.
  • Makaftserk, by the western Shasta.
  • Paíkni, collective name for Klamath, Modoc, and Snakes on Sprague River.
  • Sáyi, Northern Paiute name.
  • Tapáadji, Ilmawi name.
  • Wols, name given by the Latgawa.

Klamath Connections. Together with the Modoc, the Klamath constituted the Lutuamian division of the Shapwailutan linguistic family.

Klamath Location. On Upper Klamath Lake, Klamath Marsh, and Williamson and Sprague Rivers.

Klamath Villages

These are given as follows by Spier (1930), maintaining his order:

  1. ă’ukckni (the Klamath marsh-Williamson River group), with the following villages:
    • mŭ’tcuia’ksi (near the bridge toward the eastern end of Klamath marsh),
    • k’Etaiwa’s (along the eastern side of the marsh),
    • gŭpgŭa’ksi, (east side of Klamath marsh south of last),
    • i’wal (along a southeastern tongue of the marsh),
    • kla’djǔksi (ibid.), du`ǐlķŭt (on the south shore of Klamath marsh),
    • awa’lwaskăn (west of preceding),
    • wa’ktale’s (on the higher ground where Williamson River leaves the marsh),
    • la’laks (ibid.),
    • lobŏ’kstsŏksi (on the bluff on the left bank of the Sprague River at the railroad bridge) called by Gatschet (1891 b)
    • ktaí-tú-pakshi), an unnamed site (on the south side of Sprague River below the dam),
    • ķ!ŏtcwă’ĕts (about 2 miles above the dam on the south bank of Sprague River),
    • komă’ĕksi (on both sides of Sprague River south of Braymill, 4 miles from Chiloquin),
    • ka’umkăn (about 6 miles above last),
    • [Yainax] (settlements of some sort near here),
    • hǐcdǐcluĕ’lukc (west of Gearhart Mountain),
    • bEzŭkse’was (on the right bank of Williamson River below the mouth of Sprague River),
    • takalma’kcda (on the right bank of Williamson River below preceding),
    • k’tai’di (on a flat opposite last mentioned),
    • djǐgiă’s (below last two on both sides of river),
    • k!o’ltawas (on both banks below preceding but principally on left bank),
    • at’awǐkc (below last, principally on right bank),
    • ya’ak (right bank below preceding),
    • tsa’k’wi (below last, principally on right),
    • wǐtă’mŭmpsi (on a high bluff on the right bank above an eddy in the sharp bend in the river),
    • goyEmske’Egǐs or kiEke’tsŭs (on right bank below last),
    • wEla’lksi (on the eastern shore of Agency Lake),
    • loķ’o’gŭt (on the higher land near Agency Lake by a little warm spring),
    • tcŏ’klalŭmps (overlooks the lake where the Chiloquin road meets the Agency Lake highway),
    • “other towns may have been at
      • ya’mzi, on the western side of Yamsay Mountain, and
      • kokenă’oke, Spring Creek, a large northern affluent of Klamath marsh.”
  2. kowa’cdikni, perhaps part of the first division, occupying:
    • kowa’cdi (on Agency Lake).
  3. du’kwakni (on the delta of Williamson River), affiliated most closely with the next division, and including:
    • mo’aksda (on the left bank of Williamson River nearly a mile above the mouth),
    • wǐckămdi (below the preceding on the right bank),
    • la’wa’lstŏt (on the point forming the right side of the mouth of Williamson River),
    • mo’giŋkŭnks (on the left bank of Williamson River a quarter of a mile above the mouth),
    • djǐŋgŭs (at a spring on the lake front to the east of the mouth of Williamson River).
  4. gu’mbŏtkni (on Pelican Bay and the marsh to the north) including:
    • sle’tsksi (on the west side of Seven Mile Creek near its mouth),
    • wudŏ’kăn (in the marsh a mile from the last and east of Seven Mile Creek),
    • iwŭnau’ts (on the western side of a little creek emptying into Klamath Lake 2 miles east of Recreation P. O., and extending along the marsh shore to the northern side of Pelican Bay),
    • dŭnŏ’ksi (an open space overlooking the northern end of Pelican Bay),
    • e’o’ķai (a few hundred yards up Four Mile Creek on the left bank),
    • wa`1ŏ’kdi (above the last mentioned on the opposite side of the creek),
    • waķ’a’k (south of the high ridge south of Odessa),
    • gai’1ŏks or gaila’llis (on the point south of Odessa, or more probably between Howard and Shoalwater Bays),
    • stŏ’kmate (at Eagle Point);
    • to which should perhaps be added:
      • e’o’ķaķ (on Wood River, toward the mountains), and
      • e’uķwa’lksi (on the east side of Wood River, and possibly the same site as the other).
  5. iu’la’loŋkni (the people of Klamath Falls (Link River) and the eastern shore of Klamath Lake), including the following villages:
    • kEt!ai’ksi (extending southward from a promontory 2 miles or so northwest of Modoc Point),
    • suwiakă’ĕks (at Modoc Point),
    • iulă’u (on the east side of Klamath Lake),
    • diu’wiaks (at the railroad point Ouxy),
    • ķau’ŏmŏt (a half mile south of the preceding on the lake shore),
    • dǐ’tk!aks (at a hot spring known as Barclay Spring near the last mentioned),
    • kŏlwa’l (at Rattlesnake Point at Algoma),
    • wuķ!o’twas (on Buck Island in Klamath Lake),
    • lama’tcksi (on the point east of Buck Island),
    • k!su’nk!si (threefourths of a mile south of the preceding on the shore of Klamath Lake),
    • iwau’wŏne (on both sides of Link River at the highway bridge),
    • iu”laloŋe (at the mouth of Klamath River),
    • wĕķă’ĕls (on the shore of Klamath Lake a mile west of the mouth of Klamath River)
    • wut!ana’kŏķls (at one end of a little marsh (now drained) on the west side of Klamath Lake),
    • iup!a’tŏna (at the other end of the same marsh),
    • woksa’lks (on the north shore of Wokas marsh near Klamath Lake),
    • dĕ’ktcŏŋks (on the west shore of Klamath Lake opposite Buck Island), sa’stǐtķa’wals (at Squaw Point).

Klamath Population. Mooney (1928) estimated the Klamath at 800 in 1780 but Spier (1930) raises this to 1,200. In 1905, including former slaves and members of other tribes more or less assimilated with them, they numbered 755. The census of 1910 returned 696. In 1923 there were 1,201 Indians under the Klamath Superintendency including Klamath, Modoc, and other Indians. In 1930, 2,034 were returned as Klamath and Modoc. In 1937 the United States Office of Indian Affairs reported 1,912 Klamath.

Connection in which the Klamath Indians have become noted. The name Klamath is perpetuated by Klamath Lake, Klamath County, and the town of Klamath Falls, Klamath County, Oreg.; by Klamath River, Oreg. and Calif.; and by a village in Humboldt County, Calif.


Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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