Published In

Oregon Historical Quarterly

Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2016


Chinookan Indians -- Lower Columbia River Watershed (Or. and Wash.) -- History, Chinookan Indians -- Lower Columbia River Watershed (Or. and Wash.) -- Social life and customs, Lower Columbia River Watershed (Or. and Wash.) -- History


Villages were the center of Chinookan life, filling the role that tribes did for Native people in other parts of North America. Every village of any size or significance had a recognized leader or chief, and constituted a named local group with which its members identified themselves. Although the villages themselves are long vanished, early travelers, missionaries, and settlers have left us eyewitness accounts of what some were like. The names and approximate locations of many more can be reconstructed from historical sources and information shared by later generations of lower Columbia River Native people.

As contributors to the recently published Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia, one of our goals was to recreate, as best as possible given the available data, a comprehensive list of Chinookan villages on the lower Columbia River (Astoria to Cascade Locks) as they existed in the first half of the nineteenth century. The complete village list (available only online) names over eighty villages and larger groupings, representing a population of at least 15,000 people speaking Chinookan languages, and probably many more.

The history and culture of these people is largely unknown to most Oregonians, yet recent and ongoing research by both academics and tribal descendants has uncovered a good deal of new information, supplementing that passed on by previous generations of scholars and their tribal consultants. The traditional culture of the Chinookan peoples constituted a successful way of living on the lower Columbia that developed over many millennia. It is the ancestral culture of the Chinook Indian Nation (embrac-ing the Clatsop and Kathlamet Chinooks of Oregon and the Lower Chinook, Wahkiakum, and Willapa Chinooks of Washington) and members of other tribal communities, as well as of fellow citizens who have Chinookan ancestry but belong to no tribal community, and it is part of our shared heritage as citizens of Oregon and Washington.

The complete Chinookan Peoples of the Lower Columbia (hereafter, CPLC) village list was too long and too packed with detail to fit comfortably in the print volume, so an editorial decision was made to place it online. To make the CPLC village list more widely known and accessible to the North-west reading public, we have prepared this guide for the Oregon Historical Quarterly. Here we will summarize and describe the list in general terms and present some illustrative examples of the complexities it contains. Some of the sources we draw on have never before been utilized by scholars; and we offer new interpretations of a number of issues left unresolved by previous compilers.


This is the publisher's final PDF. Copyright © 2016, Oregon Historical Society. Reproduced by permission. The article can be found online at:

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