Karuk leader Ron Reed collecting gooseberries (2014)
Total population
2010 census: 6,115 alone and in combination[1]
Regions with significant populations
California (Yreka, Happy Camp, Orleans), Oregon[2]
English, Karuk
Christianity, other
Related ethnic groups

The Karuk people are an indigenous people of California, and the Karuk Tribe is one of the largest tribes in California.[2] Karuks are also enrolled in two other federally recognized tribes, the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria[3] and the Quartz Valley Indian Community.

Happy Camp, California, is located in the heart of the Karuk Tribe's ancestral territory, which extends along the Klamath River from Bluff Creek (near the community of Orleans in Humboldt County) through Siskiyou County and into Southern Oregon.[4]


The name "Karuk," also spelled "Karok," means "upriver people",[5] or "upstream" people,[6] and are called Chum-ne in Tolowa.[7]


The Karuk people speak the Karuk language, a language isolate.[8] The tribe has an active language revitalization program.[9]


Estimates for the population sizes of most Native groups before European arrival in California have varied substantially.[a] Alfred L. Kroeber proposed a population for the Karuk of 1,500 in 1770. Sherburne F. Cook initially estimated it as 2,000, later raising this figure to 2,700.[10][11] In 1910, Kroeber reported the surviving population of the Karuk as 800.[5]: 883 

According to the 2010 census, there were 6,115 Karuk individuals, of which 3,431 were full-blooded.[1]


Pre-contact distribution of the Karuk

Since time immemorial, the Karuk resided in villages along the Klamath River, where they continue such cultural traditions as hunting, gathering, fishing, basketmaking and ceremonial dances.[4] The Karuk were the only California tribe to grow tobacco plants.[6] The Brush Dance, Jump Dance and Pikyavish ceremonies last for several days and are practiced to heal and "fix the world," to pray for plentiful acorns, deer and salmon, and to restore social goodwill as well as individual good luck.[4]

The Karuk developed sophisticated usage of plants and animals for their subsistence. These practices not only consisted of food harvesting from nature, but also the use of plant and animal materials as tools, clothing and pharmaceuticals. The Karuk cultivated a form of tobacco,[6] and used fronds of the Coastal woodfern as anti-microbial agents in the process of preparing eels for food consumption.[12]

Karuk in film

Notable Karuk people

See also


  1. ^ For estimates of population, see Population of Native California.


  1. ^ a b "2010 Census CPH-T-6. American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes in the United States and Puerto Rico: 2010" (PDF). census.gov. Archived from the original (PDF) on December 9, 2014. Retrieved February 22, 2015.
  2. ^ a b "Karuk Indians." SDSU: California Indians and Their Reservations. 2011. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  3. ^ "Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria." Archived 2012-02-24 at the Wayback Machine Alliance for California Traditional Arts. 2009. Retrieved 25 June 2012.
  4. ^ a b c Maureen Bell (1991). Karuk: The Upriver People. Naturegraph Publishers. ISBN 978-0-87961-208-5.
  5. ^ a b Kroeber, Alfred L (1925). Handbook of the Indians of California. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin. Vol. 78. Washington, D.C.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  6. ^ a b c Helen Bauer (1968). California Indian Days. Doubleday.
  7. ^ "Siletz Talking Dictionary". Retrieved June 4, 2012.
  8. ^ Lyle Campbell (1997). American Indian Language: The Historical Linguistics of Native America. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0195140507.
  9. ^ Walters, Heidi (October 27, 2011). "In Karuk: A family struggles to bring its ancestral tongue back to life". North Coast Journal. Retrieved October 4, 2013.
  10. ^ Cook, Sherburne F (1956). "The Aboriginal Population of the North Coast of California". Anthropological Records. 16 (81–130). University of California, Berkeley: 98.
  11. ^ Sherburne Friend Cook (1943). The Conflict Between the California Indian and White Civilization. ... : The Physical and demographic reaction of the non-mission Indians in colonial and provincial California. 22. University of California Press.
  12. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2008. Coastal Woodfern (Dryopteris arguta), GlobalTwitcher, ed. N. Stromberg Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ "Pikyáv (to fix it)". KQED. November 18, 2007. Retrieved September 20, 2020.
  14. ^ Baseball Assistance Team Director Profile: Buck Martinez. MLB.com. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  15. ^ Carr, Tom. "Jetty Rae puts her own mark on music." Traverse City Record-Eagle. 25 Dec 2008. Retrieved November 9, 2022.
  16. ^ Whiting, Corinne (January 29, 2022). "From galleries to Kraken games, Native American artist Fox Spears honors Karuk traditions". seattlerefined. Retrieved November 9, 2022.