Klamath - Religion and Expressive Culture

Religious Beliefs. Every Klamath sought spiritual power in vision quests, which took place at life crises such as puberty and mourning. The spirits were poorly defined, but primarily took the form of nature spirits or anthropomorphic beings. Klamath mythology was dominated by the culture hero Kemukemps, a trickster figure who had created men and women.

Religious Practitioners. Shamans enjoyed considerable prestige and authority, often more than did chiefs. Shamans were people who had acquired more spiritual power than had others. Shamanistic performances, during which the shamans became possessed, were the main forms of Klamath ceremonialism. These performances were held in the winter and lasted five days and nights. The shamans' services could be invoked at any time during the year for such purposes as prophecy, divination, or weather control, in addition to curative funtions.

Arts. The Klamath made a flute, three types of rattles, and a hand drum. Basketry was decorated with geometric designs.

Death and Afterlife. The deceased were cremated, and their possessions and valuables given by others in their honor burned with the body. Mourning was a personal matter with a mourning period and behavioral restrictions without public ceremony.

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User Contributions:

Does anyone in Chiloquin know where to find the petroglyphs or pictographs, which are featured in the Klamath Basin Survey (1929)? There is a map in the book but it is not detailed enough to actually find where the rock art is located. Does anyone who reads this website have pictures of the art? I am writing a capstone final paper for EOU on Native American rock art in the Pacific Northwest. If anyone has picture of these or can recommend a guide to where these are found I would like to communicate with them and possibly hire a guide to show me where or buy copies of their pictures. Thanks in advance, Karen
Hello Karen
I am unaware of a 1929 rock art survey in the Klamath Basin, but have been studying our tribes' rock art for about 12 years now. Can you tell me a little about this survey, who published it (if at all)?

I am interested in your study But I think if you're going to study rock art down there, you should probably meet with the Klamath Tribes Culture and Heritage Committee first. Not only to get their "blessing," but also their support. Once they're on your side, I'm sure they'll do whatever they can to assist you.

Anyway, good luck in your research. I'd really appreciate more information on the survey you mentioned.


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