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Chapter 3 -- History of the Smith River Watershed (continued)

Native American History

Humans probably arrived in this area between 10,000 and 5000 years ago. In the early 1800s, the first European explorers arrived at the villages of the native Tolowa. These villages were usually in coastal areas. Villages were located at the mouth of Peacock Creek, the mouth of the Smith on the south bank, Point St. George, and the peninsula between Lake Earl and Lake Talawa (Funderburk 1979). The Tolowa population was probably between 1000 and 2400. Use of inland areas was seasonal and specific resource locations were "owned" by families or communities. Parts of the upper North Fork watershed were used by the Takelma and Tututni people. A native trade route followed the South Fork of the Smith to Big Flat which was an intertribal trading area. The trail continued south to Hoopa Valley.

Food sources included smelt caught and dried in the late summer and salmon captured in weirs or nets in the Smith River. Sea lions were hunted and their meat was a trade item. Three types of acorns were gathered: tanoak (Lithocarpus densiflorus), Oregon white oak (Quercus garryana), and canyon live oak (Quercus chrysolepis). Following acorn harvesting, oak woodlands were burned which removed underbrush and facilitated the gathering of acorns the following year. This activity helped to perpetuate the oak woodland plant community. The native diet probably included grass seeds also.


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