Wintun Tribe

Wintun Indians (‘Indians,’ ‘people’). One of the 2 divisions of the Copehan family, the other being the Patwin. The Wintun territory was bounded on the north by Mt Shasta and the domain of the Lutuamian and Shastan families; on the south by a line running from the east boundary, about 10 miles east of Sacramento river, due west through Jacinto and the headwaters of Stony creek, Colusa County, California, to Kulanapan territory. The east boundary began at the headwaters of Bear creek, bearing south some miles east of and parallel to McCloud river. From Pit river to the neighborhood of Redding they occupied a triangular area east of the Sacramento. On the west the Wintun territory was bounded by that of the Kulanapan, Yukian, Chimarikan, and Quoratean families, and the Wailaki tribe.

The Wintun division of the Copehan family is rather homogeneous, the language, customs, and characteristics of the tribes presenting comparatively slight variations. Powers thought the Wintun were originally a sort of metropolitan tribe for the whole of north California below Mt Shasta. Physically they were inclined to obesity; they were indifferent hunters but good fishermen, and were abundantly supplied with dried salmon. Roots of various kinds, manzanita berries, piñon nuts, and acorns were used as food; and according to Powers clover was eaten in great quantities in the blossoming season.

Dancing was a favorite amusement. Wintun marriage was of the simplest character and the man seldom paid for his bride. The dead were buried in ordinary graves, the bodies being doubled up and wrapped in mats or skins. The Wintun language presents many agreements with that of the Patwin division, vocabularies showing about a third of the words to be Common to both.

For Further Study

The following articles and manuscripts will shed additional light on the Wintun as both an ethnological study, and as a people.

Copehan, Wintun,

Colusa County CA,

Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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