About the Map
In the 1960s there was a plan to build a tall dam at Ah Pah on the Klamath River. It would have covered the village site with 813 feet of water and would have created a lake extending over 100 miles upriver, drowning much of the Yurok, Karuk and Hupa territories. Increasing demands for fresh water, combined decreasing supplies as a result of pollution and the effects of climate change, increase the potential for projects such as this in the future. For GIS layers of aboriginal Yurok territory go to NorthCoastGIS. If you are new to GIS mapping, go to Learn2Map.com for a free GIS tutorial and free GIS software.
Marlon Sherman, Professor of Native American Studies at Humboldt State University, prepared the following discussion about maps and boundaries of aboriginal territory.
Boundary lines on maps are artificial constructs. Sharply delineated lines, drawn arbitrarily, generally have little meaning in aboriginal or indigenous terms. As a cultural or geographic matter, many, if not most indigenous societies were formed and maintained within watershed boundaries. As a political matter, many modern indigenous societies view boundaries as tools of oppressive colonial governments that facilitate repressive or genocidal policies. Indigenous Peoples throughout the earth generally coalesced as societies long before the formation of modern nation-states, and struggle with cross-boundary issues that result from differing immigration policies of the various nations.
The lines on the above map are used strictly for informational purposes, and cannot and should not be used to prove right to ownership of the parcels of land so delineated.
The history of government-recorded property lines delineating both private and government property in the West are generally the result of fraud and coercion, not only on the part of the miners, loggers and other settlers, but due to the third-party surveying contractors, some of whom never even walked the land they mapped. Although these property lines have become pretty much settled as of the 21st Century, they are still the source of much bitterness among Native Peoples, who lost the homes and use rights they had enjoyed for untold centuries.
Finally, although the United States government has since 1989 recognized a separate Yurok Reservation, with boundary lines extending from approximately the mouth of the Klamath River to its confluence with the Trinity River, and one mile on either side of the Klamath River, some Yurok people still practice traditional Yurok land use beliefs and practices in regard to land ownership and property boundaries, rather than acknowledge either Yurok or United States law.
This map, then, shows a portion of the approximate areas Yurok peoples lived in or utilized on a regular basis before the coming of Europeans or Americans, and shows areas Yuroks are forbidden from living or utilizing today, due to federal and state laws, as well as corporate and private control of lands.