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.