Wailaki Tribe

Wailaki Indians (Wintun: ‘northern language’). An Athapascan tribe or group of many villages formerly on the main Eel River and its north fork from Kekawaka Creek to within a few miles of Round Valley, California. After some fighting with the whites they were placed on Round Valley Reservation, where a few of them still reside. Their houses were circular. They had no canoes, but crossed streams by weighting themselves down with stones while they waded. They lived by the river during the wet months of the year, when their chief occupation was fishing, done at especially favorable places by means of nets and spears. The summer and fall months were spent on the sides and tops of the ridges, where the women were able to gather the bulbs, seeds, and nuts, and the men could unite in deer drives and other methods of hunting. They usually buried their dead, but burned those who fell in battle. They took the whole heads of their enemies as trophies, with which they were accustomed to dance. Like the Yuki the women have their noses and cheeks as well as their chins tattooed. Coyote holds the principal place in their mythology, were he is represented as acting under the direction of his father. He secured for men daylight and the heavenly bodies, and fire which he succeeded in stealing from their guardians. He established the fishing places, and ordained social and other customs. An adolescent ceremony was held for the girls, and most of the boys were trained with the candidates for medicine-men, who were restricted as to their food, drink, and sleep for many days. This training took place in the fall under the direction of two or more old shamans. Public exhibitions, consisting in part of dancing, were given by the candidates. Large conical dance houses were erected occasionally, and dedicated with ceremonies of dancing and singing; such were important occasions of mingled social and religious character.

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

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