Tobacco among the Karuk Indians of California

Tobacco among the Karuk Indians of California

Tobacco among the Karuk Indians of California

Tobacco among the Karuk Indians of California

Excerpt

Knowledge and practice of the California Indians with regard to tobacco has up to the present time been insufficiently explored. There is practically no literature on the subject. Furthermore, the method pursued by others has been wrong. A constant basing of the study upon language is the only path to correctness and completeness. Every act and status must be traced through language to the psychology and mythology behind it. Without the linguistic method, error lurks near in every item of information.

Starting with the picturesque Karuk tribe of northwestern California, whose tobacco knowledge constitutes the present section of this presentation, we shall formulate our gleanings from carefully selected tribes of several diversified areas throughout the State. For each tribe the presentation will include quoting of previous literature; determination of the variety of the tobacco used; description of gathering, curing, and storing; infumation, its instruments, appurtenances, procedure and customs; other uses of tobacco; other plants mixed with or used like tobacco; other plants smoked; tobacco as materia medica, in shamanism, in ceremony, in mythology; tobacconal vocabulary, expressions and proverbs. Finally, at the conclusion of these findings there will be a summing up and building together, difficult to write until the details from the varying areas have been duly worked over and presented.

The first section, here printed, records the tobacco knowledge of the Karuk, the second tribe encountered as one proceeds up the Klamath River from its mouth. This tribe centers about Orleans, Katimin, Clear Creek, and Happy Camp, in Humboldt and Siskiyou Counties. The tribe or language is called Pehtsik or Arra, arra by Gibbs, Ara by Gatschet, Quoratean by Powell, Ehnek and . . .

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