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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Upriver and Downriver: A Gradient of Tobacco Intensification Along the Klamath River, California and Oregon


This paper identifies the types of locations where coyote tobacco (Nicotiana attenuataj has been found along the Upper Klamath River and demonstrates how that information illuminates the regional ethnographic record of Native American tobacco use and culture. Locations where coyote tobacco has appeared within the Upper Klamath River vicinity were documented during a fourteen-year period. These data are supplemented by observations from the surrounding region. The aggregate of these observations suggests that coyote tobacco is an ancient, widespread, and potentially common species over a large portion of the landscape within the Cascade Mountain section of the Upper Klamath River watershed. This information, when combined with ethnographic, biogeographic, and experimental data for another tobacco species, Indian tobacco (Nicotiana quadrivalvis), helps to reconstruct a regional history of the horticultural intensification of tobacco by indigenous peoples living along the Klamath River Several lines of evidence indicate the Shasta Indians were intermediate in the transition from less intensive to more intensive methods for procuring tobacco. The evidence also indicates the Eastern and Western Shasta relied on different species of tobacco.

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