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Yuki Indian Fact Sheet

Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Yuki tribe for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students and teachers to visit our main Yuki website for in-depth information about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with Yuki pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.

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    Yuki Tribe

How do you pronounce the word "Yuki"? What does it mean?
Yuki is pronounced "yoo-kee." That means "enemy" in the language of their neighbors the Wintu. In their own language they called themselves by band names, such as Ukomno'm or Ta'no'm. But today, most of the people refer to themselves as Yukis.

Where do the Yukis live?
The Yukis are original people of Northern California. Most Yuki people still live there today.

How is the Yuki Indian nation organized?
Most Yuki people live together with Indians from other tribes on the Round Valley Reservation. Indian reservations are traditional lands which belong to a tribe and are under their control. Other Yukis live in neighboring communities.

In the past, each Yuki band had its own chief or headman. There was no centralized Yuki government, only a loose coalition among the band chiefs. Today, since the Round Valley Tribes are home to people from several different tribes, they are governed by a tribal council elected by all the residents.

What language do the Yukis speak?
The Yukis speak English today. In the past, they spoke their native Yuki language. Some Yuki elders still remember words from this language, and there are younger people who are interested in learning to speak their traditional language again. If you'd like to know a few easy Yuki words, 'On tat (pronounced own-tat) is a friendly greeting, and Shul tat (pronounced shool tat) means "goodbye." Here is a Yuki picture glossary you can look at.

What was Yuki culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here's a link to the Round Valley Tribe's homepage. On their site you can find information about the Yuki people in the past and today.

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How do Yuki Indian children live? What games and toys do the Yukis have?
They do the same things any children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house. Many Yuki children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more chores and less time to play, just like colonial children. But they did have toys and games. One Yuki game was the stick game. Players held marked sticks behind their backs and gambled as they guessed the location of each stick. Another Yuki game is tossle, which is an athletic sport similar to lacrosse and rugby. Traditionally, only men and boys played tossle or the stick game. Yuki girls often played with dolls. As in many California Indian tribes, a Yuki mother would traditionally carry her baby in a baby basket.

What were Yuki homes like in the past?
The Yukis lived in earthen houses. Usually these houses were made from a cone-shaped frame of wooden poles placed over a basement-like hole dug into the ground. Then the frame would be covered with bark or grass mats and packed with earth to insulate it. Because they were partially underground, Yuki houses appeared smaller than they really were. Here are some pictures of different types of Indian buildings. Today, most Yukis live in modern houses and apartments, just like you.

What was Yuki clothing like? Did they wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Yuki men wore short wraparound kilts made of deerskin. Yuki women wore longer deerskin skirts decorated with shells and beads. Shirts were not necessary in the Yuki culture, but both men and women wore long tunic-like shirts in cool or rainy weather. The Yukis did not normally wear any shoes at all. Here are some photos and links about Native clothes in general.

The Yukis didn't wear long headdresses like the Sioux. For dances and ceremonies, Yuki men would sometimes wear elaborate feathered caps and headbands decorated with flicker scalps, like this. The Yukis painted their faces for dances and other special occasions. Both women and men also wore tribal tattoos. Yuki women often wore strands of beaded necklaces around their necks, and Yuki men wore shell jewelry in their pierced noses.

Today, some Yuki people still wear moccasins or beaded jewelry, but they wear modern clothes like jeans instead of kilts.

What was Yuki transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
No-- the Yuki were not coastal people, and the Eel River was too shallow for canoeing where they lived. When they needed to travel, Yuki people normally just walked.

What was Yuki food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Yukis were hunter-gatherers. Yuki men hunted deer, birds, and small game, and caught fish in the rivers. Yuki women gathered acorns and ground them into meal, as well as collecting berries, nuts, and other plants. Here is a website with more information about Indian food.

What were Yuki weapons and tools like in the past?
Yuki hunters used bows and arrows or snares. Yuki fishermen used nets and spears. Yuki warriors usually fired arrows at their opponents, but sometimes they fought hand-to-hand with war clubs. Here is a website of pictures and information about ancient Indian weapons.

What are Yuki arts and crafts like?
Yuki artists are known for their basketry. Here is a picture of a Yuki basket.

What other Native Americans did the Yuki tribe interact with?
The Yukis engaged in trade with the other tribes of Northern California, particularly the Pomo and the Wailaki. Sometimes these tribes fought battles with each other over territory or resources, but they usually resolved these fights quickly and returned to being trading partners.

What kinds of stories do the Yukis tell?
There are lots of traditional Yuki legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the Yuki Indian culture. Here is a Yuki story about the creation of the world. Here's a website where you can read more about Yuki stories.

What about Yuki religion?
Religions are too complicated and culturally sensitive to describe appropriately in only a few simple sentences, and we strongly want to avoid misleading anybody. You can visit this site to learn more about Yuki religious traditions or this site about Native American tradition in general.

Can you recommend a good book for me to read?
We do not know of any good books specifically about the Yuki tribe. Two good books for kids on California Indians in general are California Native Peoples and Native Ways; a more in-depth book for older readers is Tribes of California. You can also browse through our recommendations of books about Native American Indians in general.

How do I cite your website in my bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the format he or she wants you to use. The authors' names are Laura Redish and Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization here. Our website was first created in 1998 and last updated in 2015.

Thanks for your interest in the Yuki Indian people and their language!

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Learn More About The Yuki Tribe

Yuki Indian Tribe
An overview of the Yuki tribe, their language and history.

Yuki Language Resources
Yuki Indian language samples, articles, and indexed links.

Yuki Culture and History Directory
Related links about the Yuki Native Americans past and present.

Yuki Words
Yuki Indian vocabulary lists.

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