ETHNONYMS: Cheenook, Tchinouks, Tsniuk

The Chinook are an American Indian group who joined the Chehalis Indians and other tribes of Oregon and Washington in the mid-nineteenth century following the decimation of their tribe by smallpox epidemics in 1782-1783, 1830-1833, and 1853. In the 1970s the descendants of the Chinook resided on or near the Chehalis Indian Reservation in Washington. The Chinook language is classified in the Penutian language phylum. In the late 1700s the Chinook numbered about two thousand and occupied the region of the lower Columbia River and the adjoining coastal area in Oregon and Washington. The Chinook included the Lower Chinook groups (Chinook, Clatsop, and Shoalwater) and the Middle groups (Clackamas, Cathlamet, and Wahkiakum).

Salmon fishing was their principal economic activity, but gathering berries and nuts and hunting deer, elk, and small game were also important. Autonomous villages were led by chiefs, and local society was divided into an upper class of chiefs, shamans, warriors, and traders, a class of commoners, and a slave class. Traditional religious life centered around guardian spirits sought through fasting and prayer in adolescence.


Boas, Franz (1911). Chinook. U.S. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin no. 40, 559-678. Washington, D.C.

Ruby, Robert H., and John A. Brown (1976). The Chinook Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.

Also read article about Chinook from Wikipedia

User Contributions:

is there anymore information about the religion of the chinook indians? i am researching about the chinook tribe and their beliefes. it would be nice to help. also, i had a link to a page in this site about chinoook religons but now it is not valid anymore. thanks.
Hello, I live here in Bay Center, WA. Home of some of the Chinook people. Bay Center use to be an Indian fishing village. My Grandparents and father where Chinook/Quinault Indian. In the late 1800's they had an Indian Shaker Church here in Bay Center which is gone now, but some other tribes still practice it. You can go on line and find the Chinook tribal office website. I am not sure what it is now. They recently moved the office here to Bay Center and they do have info about the Chinook tribe and their fight for Tribal recognition with the Federal Government. They are trying to say we do not exist any more. But--We are very much alive and well!
could you include everything you know about the chinnok tribe
Hello, I am so happy to have found your post on I am doing a report on the Chinook tribe and am finding it difficult to find information. I have a question about the current religious practices of the Chinook tribe and was hoping you also might be able to help me with their legal and political organizations. Do they currently follow the US government and its laws or do they have their own system of government, like elections or appointments to office. How do they make their laws and what is their penal system for those who break it. Has the Chinook adopted Christianity? Do they still practice things such as vision quests? I was also hoping you could direct me to a piece of writing done by a member of the Chinook tribe. It can be current or old.

Please help, any information, no matter how basic, would be hugely appreciated.

Thank you so much for your help,
Kelly Stine

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