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Lewis and Clark
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image: Chinook Indians
Photograph of Chinook woman by Edward S. Curtis
Chinook Indians

First Noted by Expedition
October 26, 1805

The Chinook numbered about 400 when the Corps of Discovery visited their villages along the south bank of the Columbia River in October 1805. Lewis and Clark noted that the tribe lived in wooden plank houses and lived off the fish, roots, and berries plentiful in the area.

The Chinook tribe had been trading with the British and American traders who came to the Oregon coast for decades. Their languages were mixed into "Chinook jargon," which the expedition members picked up. It became the lingua franca from Washington State to California.

The tribe took more than trade goods and language from the British and Americans. They also fell prey to diseases such as smallpox and influenza, against which they had no natural immunities. An 1825 malaria epidemic further weakened the tribe.

Today the Chinook share with the Chehalis the Quinault Reservation on the Washington coast.

From the Expedition Journals

"These people the Chinnooks...have been very friendly to us; they appear to be a mild inoffensive people. ..."
image: Chinook Indians
Photograph of Chinook canoe by Edward S. Curtis

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