AskDefine | Define Chinookan

Dictionary Definition

Chinookan n : a Penutian language spoken by the Chinook people [syn: Chinook]

Extensive Definition

Chinookan refers to several groups of Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. In the early 19th century, the Chinookan peoples lived along the lower and middle Columbia River in present-day Oregon and Washington. The Chinookan tribes were those encountered by the Lewis and Clark Expedition in 1805 on the lower Columbia.


The Chinookan were not nomadic. At birth Chinookans would flatten some children's heads by applying pressure with a board, enabling, in turn, a social hierarchy that placed flat-headed community members above those with round heads. This ranking was inherited. Living near the coast of the Pacific Ocean, they were skilled whale hunters. Owing partly to their non-migratory living patterns, the Chinookan and other coastal tribes had relatively little conflict over land with one another.


Some are currently engaged in a continuing effort to secure formal recognition of tribal status by the U.S. Federal government. The U.S. Department of Interior initially recognized the Chinookan as a tribe in 2001. Subsequently, the department first reconsidered and then, in 2002, revoked this status.

Chinookan groups

Chinookan groups include:
Most surviving Chinookan natives live in the towns of Bay Center, Chinook, and Ilwaco in southwest Washington. Many books have been written about the Chinook, including, Boston Jane: an Adventure.

Famous Chinookans

See also


  • Myths and legends of the Pacific Northwest, especially of Washington and Oregon Oral traditions from the Chinook, Nez Perce, Klickitat and other tribes of the Pacific Northwest.
Chinookan in Catalan: Chinook
Chinookan in German: Chinook (Volk)
Chinookan in Spanish: Chinook
Chinookan in French: Chinook
Chinookan in Croatian: Chinook Indijanci
Chinookan in Portuguese: Chinookan
Chinookan in Russian: Чинук
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