Yurok (yŏrˈŏk) [key], Native North Americans who in the mid-19th cent. occupied parts of NW California, particularly the area around the Klamath River. They were of the California cultural area but had some Pacific Northwest Coast traits (see under Natives, North American); they subsisted on salmon and acorns, and for money they used the dentalium shell, which they received from tribes living farther north. Their property laws were unique among Native Americans, pertaining only to the realm of the individual; the Yurok recognized no public claim to property. By 1855 a reservation was set aside for them; they then numbered some 2,500. Presently they live on several reservations in California, mainly on the Yurok reservation on the lower Klamath River. In 1990 there were some 4,400 Yurok in the United States. The Yurok and their southern neighbors, the Wiyot, speak languages of the Ritwan group that belong to the Algonquian-Wakashan linguistic stock and possibly to the Algonquian branch of this stock (see Native American languages).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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