Friday, March 25, 2011

Tolowa Indian Settlements

Crescent City, Del Norte County August 22, 1993

Putting the final mapping touches on this trip from Roseburg down to the group of seven Del Norte state landmarks at camp Best Western, when hunger strikes and a trip across town the Spotted Owl restaurant is called for when noticed in their parking lot is a dead ringer of dad’s blue ’51 Chevy Bel-Air. Though seen around town on earlier trips for some time, there’s now a fresh ‘For Sale’ sign in the rear quarter window. Hmmm, maybe he’ll do a deal with the Cadillac. Then the realization kicks in that this is 1993 and interstate speeds are over 70 mph and that’s about all the Chevy can wheeze and puff its way to, whereas the Caddy’s V8 is slightly above an idle. Not that either car can stop from that speed. So, common sense prevails over breakfast and the Caddy heads for the coast at Bandon, then Port Orford, the stunning views of Gold Beach, and Brookings to the California border and Del Norte County


OAC photo

Daa-naa—yash!  (‘welcome’ in Tolowa)

The mist is starting to break up here at Pebble Beach in Crescent City and the ocean view from this landmark is outstanding. There were two First Nation people living in the region when the first white person, Jedediah Smith came through in 1828, and they were the Yurok to the south around the Klamath River, and the Tolowa to the north along the Smith River basin. Both subsisted well off the sea and land and built permanent structures from redwood. There’s something like 70 inches of rain here a year, so redwood was a good choice. Those that survived the diseases brought on by white settlers in the 1850’s went on to adapt to working in the local industries of fishing and lumber. Around 1870, the Tolowa got into a movement that some other Native Americans were doing called the ‘Ghost Dance’, as a means of conjuring up relatives and spirits from the better times of the past. It was a bit like the Shakers and certainly warrants more reading at some point. At any rate, the ‘Ghost Dance’ died out after ten years or so.  

Why the plaque reads ‘Tolowa Indian Settlements’ and not the title below is anybody’s guess, but while we’re guessing, this plaque was put up in 1965 (after the the ’64 tsunami), perhaps an earlier one washed away the they went with a more concise title.
NO. 649 SITE OF OLD INDIAN VILLAGE AT PEBBLE BEACH, CRESCENT CITY - At the time of white contact the principal villages of the native Tolowa Indians of northern Del Norte County were located at Battery Point in Crescent City (Ta'atun), Pebble Beach (Meslteltun), south of Point St. George (Tatintun), and north of Point St. George (Tawiatun). The major villages were almost completely independent economic units.
1886 Pebble Beach Dr
, 500 ft S of
Pacific Ave
, Crescent City
Google maps: 41.756027,-124.220406
Great view of the ocean.  All Del Norte landmarks can be seen the same day.  Those in Crescent City are a little to far apart to walk.

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