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No salmon above Klamath River stateline

by James Waddell, Karuk People tribal member 4/14/11

Klamath River state-line rapids where salmon did not swim above; research by James A. Waddell to add more information to interested people.  Jim Waddell is a 50+ year and five generation resident of the Klamath River and a member of the Karuk People of the Klamath River.

From the book of “Tribes of California” by Stephen Powers which was reprinted from Contributions to the North American Ethnology, Volume III, John Wesley Powel in charge; Washington Government Printing office 1877.  This was reprinted by University of California Press, Los Angeles and Berkeley, CA; and by University of California Press, LTD, London, England.  Copyright © 1976; ISBN 0-520-03172-5; Introductions and Annotations by Robert F. Heizer.

            From Page 256 of the Modok; “In the Lost River they find a remarkable supply and variety of fish.  There are black, silver-sided, and speckled trout, of which first two species individuals are said to be caught weighing twenty-five pounds; buffalo-fish from five to twelve pounds; and very large, fine suckers, such only in name and appearance , for they are no bonier than ordinary fishes.  In spawning-time the fish run up from Clear Lake in extraordinary numbers, so that the Indians have only to place a slight obstruction in the stream to catch them by the thousands.  Herein lies one good reason for the passionate attachment which the Modok felt for the Lost River.  But the salmon, king of the finny tribes, they had not, for that royal fish ascends the Klamath only to the first rapids below Lower Klamath Lake.  [emphasis mine JW.]  Above them there is no deposit of gravel suitable for it to spawn in.  …” 

From A. L. Kroeber’s “HANDBOOK OF THE INDIANS OF CALIFORNIA” published by General Publishing Company, LTD. 30 Lesmill Road, Don Mills, Toronto, Ontario.  Published in the United Kingdom by Constable and Company, Ltd.

            This Dover edition, first published in 1976, is an unabridged republication of the work originally published by the Government Printing Office, Washington, in 1925 as Bulletin 78 of the Bureau of American Ethnology of the Smithsonian Institution.

            From Page 325 of the Modoc:  “The salmon are said not to run into the Klamath Lake or above, and streams are much smaller and standing bodies of water infinitely more important than in the northwest.  …”

            In the information that was used in the email notes to me this day, of Peter Skeene Ogden of January 24, 1827 tells in part:  “…  Ogden remarked “here for some distance in advance and in our rear as far was we can is one continued rapid fall & Cascade our Guide (Indian) informs us beyond this the Salmon to not ascend, …”

            The Ogden comments seem to describe the 14 miles of white water rapids that flows into Copco Lake from the Oregon line.

Feel free to use this research if it is so wished.


James A. Waddell; April 14, 2011, 1101 Stone Canyon Dr. #1334, Roseville, CA 95661.

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