Bald Hills – Hoopa Reservation

Redwood National Park and State Park – The Chilula

Cultural Background:

The Chilula were almost indistinguishable from the Hupa in speech, and were allied with them in hostility toward the coastal Yurok. Like all Indians of the region, they lacked a specific designation for themselves as a group. “Chilula” was English for the Yurok “Tsulu-la,” people of Tsulu, the Bald Hills. Locally they were known as the Bald Hills Indians. (Kroeber, Handbook of Indians of California, p. 137)

Location of Villages:

Their villages were located on or adjacent to lower Redwood Creek, from near the inland edge of the heavy redwood belt to a few miles above Minor Creek. All but one of the village sites were on the east side of Redwood Creek, on which the hillsides received more sun and the timber was not so dense. A few were as much as a mile or more from the stream, but most were close to the watercourse. In summer the Chilula left their homes to camp on the highland prairies of the Bald Hills, where seeds and roots were plentiful and game abounded. Autumn found the Chilula either camping on the Bald Hills or crossing Redwood Creek to gather acorns on the western slopes (Kroeber, Handbook of Indians of California, p137-138. )

Eighteen village sites are known, of which two (Howunakut and Noieding) are within the boundary of Redwood National Park. On the sites of six of the identified settlements, house pits have been found and counted. Projecting the number found would give the Chilula 175 huts, or about 600 persons, or an average of about 30 to each settlement. The villages contained more pits than houses. (Kroeber, Handbook of the Indians of California, . p. 138)

Conflict with the Whites:

The trails from Trinidad and Humboldt Bay to the gold camps on the Klamath and Trinity crossed the Bald Hills, and the Chilula had seen but few whites, before they found themselves in conflict with the miners and packers. Fighting between California volunteers—supported by United States regulars—and the Indians continued sporadically until the 1860s. Rounded up, the Chilula were either placed on the Hoopa Reservation or sent to Fort Bragg. Blood feuds took their toll, so that by 1919 the Chilula had wasted away. Only two or three households remained in their old haunts, while the few families remaining on the Hoopa Reservation had been assimilated. (Kroeber, Handbook of Indians of California,. pp. 138-140.)

Dwellings and Sweathouses

The Chilula built typical plank houses and small square sweathouses in their villages. They were the most southerly Athabascan tribe to use this type of sweathouse. When the Chilula camped in the hills, they built square but unexcavated huts of bark slabs of the type used for permanent dwellings by the Whilkut.(35)