Tsnungwe Council

P.O. Box 373
Salyer, CA 95563


A young woman in traditional regalia including beaded vest and necklaces holding abalone shell in front of wooden house with round opening

Muriel Ammon at her Flower Dance in 2012. This coming-of-age ceremony marks the beginning of womanhood. Note the traditional plank house (xontah) in background.

Hand-painted map of parts of Humboldt, Siskiyou, Trinity and Del Norte counties on two panels showing indigenous cultural areas in shades of green, with a traditional pattern in red, beige and black encircling it

Artistic map of the lands of the Tsnungwe Tribe and neighbors by Lyn Risling (Karuk, Yurok and Hupa), October, 2019. Original map-mural is currently on display as part of the Native Forum lobby at Humboldt State in the BSS Building

Excerpt from statement written by the Tsnungwe Council, and adopted by the Elders Council:
“It is said that the Immortals lived at łe:ldin, “the place where the rivers come together” in the days before the first men. When the Immortals left to live beyond the ocean, they left łe:ldin for the first men. For thousands of years life in łe:ldin, principal village of the Tsnungwe, remained essentially the same. The climate was mild, food plentiful, and the Tsnungwe flourished. The people grew rich in number, culture, and wealth. łe:ldin became a cultural and economic center for tribes along the Klamath, Trinity, and South Fork Rivers. The Tsnungwe spoke a Hupa dialect, in the Athabascan family. Since łe:ldin was an important trade center, the Tsnungwe often spoke five or six languages: Chimariko, Wintun, Redwood, Wiyot, Hoopa Valley and South Fork Hupa. Goods from far away were brought to Hleldin: dentalia from the state of Washington, obsidian from the Modoc Plateau, and redwood canoes from the coast were major trade items …

We have spent countless hours and travelled many miles in working to restore our federally recognized status. Our people were murdered; our land was stolen; our tribal rights have been taken away; our treaties were never ratified. And yet, we are still here, living on our homeland as we have done for countless generations. We deserve the respect as the people of our land … and we ask for that recognition.”

Read the rest of the statement at the Tribal website

Eleven men in tribal regalia including headbands, bead necklaces, hide aprons and dance sticks standing and kneeling in a meadow

Tsnungwe Council Flower Dance Ceremony, 21st century.

Keepers of the land

Sepia-toned photograph of a wooded valley with the silhouette of a flat-topped mountain in the background

Ironside Mountain in the 19th century. tse:nding … contracted from tse:ning-ding meaning rock/Iron – sloped side/face – place. This apparently is the origin of referring to the mountain as “Ironside.” Translated directly from our dialect of Hupa language.

Hands holding whole plants with leafy tops and fibrous roots

A tribal member harvests gos-ky’oh (bulb-big), known as soaproot in English.

A Living Tradition: Plank Houses (xontah)

A submerged octagonal space with wooden plank walls and a dirt floor with a stone firepit and stools

Interior of xontah.

Men in modern dress and traditional basket hats lay wooden planks in an octagonal pit

Tribal members building a xontah, 21st century.

Traditional wooden plank house with modern trailer in a meadow surrounded by deciduous forest

xontah in łe:ldin, 21st century.

Preserving the Tsnungwe Dialect

 Facebook video: How to pronounce tse:ning-xwe, and the anglicized pronunciation of tsnungwe.

Facebook video: Once There Was an Acorn (short story in Hupa Language)