Sample Anthropology Essay Paper on ANT 205 Native Peoples of North America Reading Summary Sheet

Group Name(s): Yurok

Meaning of group name, if known: In the language of the neighboring Karok community, Yurok means downstream (224).

Culture area of group: The Native Americans live along Klamath River and coastal villages of Pacific Ocean (224).

Ecosystem: Forest, riverine and ocean banks (224).

Traditional social organization of group: villages (236)

Traditional subsistence strategy of group: foragers (232).

What was the group’s most important food source? Salmon (232).

Transportation mode(s) of group: canoe and snowshoe (232).

Most outstanding cultural artifact(s) of group, if specified in the reading: dugout canoe, animal hide shields, woven baskets (230, 232, 245).

Names of any historically outstanding members of group, if mentioned in reading: The Widower across the Ocean (226).

Outstanding historical event(s) connected with this group, if mentioned in reading: Coastal fur trade from 1818-1848, placer gold discovery in 1849, establishment of Klamath reserve in 1855, Hoopa Valley reservation of 1864, Cynthia Burski’s and Dorothy Hosier’s field work of 1965, introduction to Christianity in the 1920s that saw a decrease in traditional religious practices and the creation of Yurok Reservation under the Indian Reorganization Act (248).

Descent pattern of group: Patrilineal and Bilateral descent (235).

Religious system of group: Theist (238).

Comments on male-female relationships, as described in reading: males and females of the Yurok community received equal treatment. Females and males could own property and the legal system did not have prejudices based on Sex. However, young men seeking wealth were warned against female company as females were seen as distractions. Men paid bride price for their brides and when a bride died before giving birth to four children, her parents gave a way her sister to be her husband’s wife. Widows were inherited by their husbands’ brothers (235). Female spiritual leaders were the primary shamans (240).

Notable comments on this group as a whole: The Yurok community is a Native American ethnic group that lives near the Klamath River and on the shores of the Pacific coast (224). The indigenous group was involved in hunting, gathering and fishing during the ancient times. Currently, some members of the group have joined Christianity but some still believe in traditional religious beliefs. Canoes are a basic form of transport and they are also used during fishing. However, when it snows, Yurok men use the snowshoe while hunting (230). The snowshoe is made of wooden crosspieces (230), Salmons are the main source of wealth for the Yurok people. The Yurok people perceived the white people as greedy because they wanted to take away their land.

Contemporary issues discussed in reading: The Yurok Reservation that was created by the Indian Reorganization Act as part of the Hoopa-Yurok Settlement Act of 1988 (250). Additionally, the Yurok committee adopted a constitution in 1994 appointing a tribal council as their governing body (250). Yurok males and females married white people (249). White people introduced Christianity to the Yurok people (248).


            The Yurok people are an indigenous community who lied near the Klamath River and Pacific Ocean (240). This indigenous group is involved in many subsistence and economic activities such as fishing, weaving baskets, hunting and gathering and growing of tobacco. The most time-consuming activity is the making of a dug-out canoe that was made from red wood (232). A typical canoe was 18-feet long, three feet wide and fifteen inches high (232). The canoes were mainly used for fishing and also used for ferrying people (232). Canoes could only be used for water travel so the Yuroks made a snowshoe to be used by men hunting in deep snow (232). The snowshoe was made of wooden crosspieces and grapevine outer frames (232).

            The salmon was the Yuroks primary staple food and it was termed as “that which is eaten” (232). However, the Yuroks did not depend on salmon for food but also acorns, seer and elk (232). Salmons were the staple food but the Yuroks hunted land mammals for their meat and raw materials (232). For example, deer skin was used during the Deer Skin Dance (232). Acorn was the commonly gathered non-animal form of food for the Yuroks. Additionally, they grew tobacco as their only domestic crop (234). Tobacco farmers used the dried tobacco leaves for personal purposes and sold the surplus. Dentalium shells were the most commonly distributed form of money in the Yurok community (233).

            White people introduced Christianity to the Yurok people and as a result Yurok members abandoned traditional religion for Christianity (248). The Yuroks perceived the white people to be greedy (249). On the other hand, the white people perceived the Indians to be drunkards, dirty, unreliable people who had no concept of the laws (249). However, both male and female Yuroks had the tendency to marry white people (249). The Yurok social life was built on nuclear families (249).