When I’m reading a book as background research for my work-in-progress, I like to take notes of the what-I-learned-from-this-book variety.
- The aboriginal territory of the Shasta people ran roughly from Crater Lake in Oregon along the northern ridge of the Rogue River watershed as far west as Wolf Creek, then south through the Klamath/Siskiyous approximately to the present Siskiyou/Trinity county line in California; then east to the McCloud River and Taritsi Creek drainages before heading north again towards Crater Lake.
- The neighbors of the Shasta included the Wintu, Yurok, Karuk, Takelma, Klamath, and Modoc tribes.
- I learned elsewhere that the Shasta people included sub-groups who spoke distinct dialects, such as the Kahosadi in present day Jackson County along the Rogue River drainage and the Kamatwa who lived along the Klamath River. Each larger group consisted of numerous smaller bands living in villages scattered throughout the territory. What I learned from the Halls’ book is that there was frequent and purposeful intermarriage among the groups using the “Marriage Wheel” system: “Rogue River Kahosadi,” write the Halls, “could marry into the Kamatwa, and counter-clockwise around the geographical area of the Shasta Nation, keeping marriages in the same area seven generations apart.”
- Mount Shasta, as can be imagined, as the dominant feature of the landscape, was (is) a sacred site to all the regional peoples; but I learned from the Halls’ book that a huge multinational trade fair and “grand conclave” was held every fall at Medicine Lake, in nearby Modoc territory to the east.
- The last full-blooded Shasta was Sargent Sambo, who died in 1963. The California Language Archive has a number of recording of Sargent Sambo speaking Shasta, which is heart-breakingly now extinct.
For more information about the history and culture of the Shasta, I recently came across a .pdf document by Betty Hall and Mary Carpelan in the online archives of Southern Oregon University.