Hupa Valley Indian Reservation

Published on December 27, 2012 by Amy

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Hupa Valley Indian Reservation
Hupa Valley Indian Reservation

Hupa, also spelled Hoopa, is a Native American tribe in northwestern California. Their autonym is Natinixwe, also spelled Natinookwa, meaning “People of the Place Where the Trails Return.” The majority of the tribe is enrolled in the federally recognized Hoopa Valley Tribe; however, some Hupa are enrolled in the Elk Valley Rancheria. Most Hupa are enrolled in the federally recognized Hoopa Valley Tribe, while a small number of Hupa are enrolled in the Cher-Ae Heights Indian Community of the Trinidad Rancheria, located in Humboldt County, California,

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The Hupa people migrated from the north into northern California around 1000 CE and settled in Hoopa Valley, California. Their heritage language is Hupa, which is a member of the Athabaskan language family. Their land stretched from the South Fork of the Trinity River to Hoopa Valley, to the Klamath River in California. Their red cedar-planked houses, dugout canoes, basket hats, and many elements of their oral literature identify them with their northern origin; however, some of their customs, such as the use of a sweat house for ceremonies and the manufacture of acorn bread, were adopted from surrounding indigenous peoples of California.

Hupa people had limited contact with non-native peoples until the 1849 Gold Rush brought an influx of miners onto their lands. In 1864, the United States government signed a treaty that recognized the Hupa tribe’s sovereignty to their land. The United States called the reservation the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation (located at 41°09′59″N 123°42′04″W), where the Hupa now reside. The reservation is next to the territory of the Yurok at the connection of the Klamath and Trinity Rivers in northeastern Humboldt County. The reservation has a land area of 141.087 sq mi (365.413 km²).


Hupa people have traditionally excelled at basketry, elk horn carving, and since the 17th century, petroglyphs.


Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. Alfred L. Kroeber thought that the 1770 population of the Hupa was 1,000 and that the Chilula and Whilkut accounted for another 1,000. Kroeber estimated the population of the Hupa in 1910 as 500. In 1943, Sherburne F. Cook proposed an aboriginal population of 1,000 for the Hupa and 600 for the Chilula. He subsequently suggested a population for the Hupa alone of 2,900. William J. Wallace felt that the latter estimate was “much too high”, and allowed 1,000 for the Hupa, 500-600 for the Chilula, and 500 for the Whilkut. The Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation has a resident population of 2,633 persons according to the 2000 census.

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