Facts about the Shasta Native Indian
This article contains fast, fun facts and
interesting information about the Shasta Native
American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions
did the Shasta tribe live, what did they wear and
what food did they eat? Discover what happened to the
Shasta tribe with facts about their wars and
What was the lifestyle and culture of the Shasta
The Shasta people consisted of different bands
including the Katiru, Iruwaitsu, Kammatwa,
Kikatsik, Konomihu, New River Indians, and the
Okwanuchu. Shasta villages were located at the
mouths of creeks which flowed into the Shasta,
Klamath, or Scott rivers. Although most of the
Shasta lived in California some members of the
tribe lived on the north side of the Siskiyous
in Oregon on tributaries of Rogue River known as
Stewart River and Little Butte Creek. The Shasta
tribes lived semi-nomadic lifestyles, hunting
for food in the summer living in temporary
shelters called wikiups. The winter homes were
permanent, rectangular, pit house structures.
The Shasta utilized broad, clumsy dugout canoes
for fishing. Conflicts arose
between the tribe and the gold rush settlers due
to the encroachment of their tribal lands and
the devastating epidemics brought by the
What language did the Shasta tribe speak?
The Shasta tribe spoke in the Shastan dialect,
part of the Hokan language.
Where did the Shasta tribe live?
The Shasta are people of the California Native
American cultural group. The location of their
tribal homelands are shown on the map. The
geography of the region in which they lived
dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Shasta
Land: Sea, coastal regions, rivers and lakes
Climate: Mild temperate climate
Natural Resources: Oak trees, buckeye,
mushrooms acorns, nuts, roots and grasses,
Types of housing or shelters: Wickiups and pit houses
Land animals: The animals included
deer, elk, chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels,
quail, mountain sheep, mountain lion,
wildcats and bear
Insects: Crickets, grasshoppers,
caterpillars and dried
locusts were all eaten to
supplement the diet
What clothes did the Shasta men wear?
The clothes worn by the men of the Shasta tribe
varied according to the season. During the warm
summer months few, if any, clothes were worn by
the men who were happy to hunt naked. In the
colder winter months different items of clothing
were made from the hides and pelts from animals
such as deer (buckskin), elk, squirrel, rabbit
The items of clothing included warm
fur robes, wrap-around kilts or aprons, mitts,
leggings and shirts. Some of their clothes,
particularly leggings were decorated with
They wore one-piece moccasins with a
front seam whilst hunting or traveling, but
usually went barefoot in their own villages. The
designs of their headdresses were very
Crown Headdresses worn by Shasta men
Upright, crown style headdresses were worn by
the men on special occasions. The crown style
headdresses consisted of the flicker feather
headband, a feather crown and a feather plume.
The complex head-dress was made from from beads,
shells, skins, quills and feathers which were
attached to headbands that sometimes included
upright radiating small wooden sticks.
Flicker Quill Headbands (aka Tamikila)
The quill headbands of the crown headdresses
covered the forehead and were tied at the back.
(The flicker bird is a member of the woodpecker
family). The Flicker headbands were made from
flicker primary feathers, the longest and
narrowest on the wing. These dark pink or yellow
feathers were placed side by side and sewn
together to form a long headband. These were
bordered by dark brown feathers and attached to
the head with twined string.
Feather Plumes (aka Makki)
Feather hair plumes and hairpins were added to
the crown headdress as a separate form of
decoration. The feather plume was tied on a
stick. The plume either covered the whole of the
stick, or feathers might only be attached just
to the end of the stick. A full middle plume
might be worn with two small side plumes.
Crown Headdress: Circular Head Roll and
Erect Cylinder Crown
Another style of the crown headdress included a
circular head roll or circlet that was made of
bound tule and often covered with fur. These
were often ornamented with horizontal pegs made
of quills, often with beads and shells attached.
Long feathers were attached to two small wooden
rings to form an erect cylinder crown.
What clothes did the Shasta women wear?
The clothes worn by the women of the Shasta
tribe consisted of blouses and front and back
aprons of shredded willow bark, falling to calf
length between the ankle and knee, belted,
fringed and special clothes were strung with
ornaments and porcupine quills. Twined tule
sandals or moccasins covered their feet. Shasta
women wore woven basket caps but would also wore
crown style headdresses when they participated
in dances and ceremonies. In the winter the
women wore fur cloaks to keep them warm.
Jewelry and Ornaments
Both the men and women wore ornaments,
especially necklaces, made from beads, shells
and bird claws. The men favored bear claws and
elk teeth. The people wore tribal tattoos on
their faces and bodies. Shasta women had three
wide stripes tattooed on their chins. Grease
was mixed with black charcoal, white chalk
powder, red and yellow dyes to make face and
body paint. Both the men and women had nose and
ear piercings. Special feather cloaks and skirts
were used during ceremonies made from the tail
and wing feathers of birds such as magpies,
crow, turkey, vulture and hawk.
What did the Shasta tribe live in?
The Shasta tribe lived in several different types
of shelters dependent on the natural resources
that were available in their location. Their
Grass Mat Houses where there was access to
reeds and rushes to make make grass mat
coverings. Shasta people
with easy access to forest areas built shelters
Cedar Bark Tepees. Other Shastas built
Winter Pit Houses
that consisted of
winter homes that were built up to 15 feet into
The Shasta pit house was constructed with a
wooden frame that was completely covered in
earth. Each Shasta village had a big meeting house
called an okwa-umma and a the sweat house called
What weapons did the Shasta use?
The weapons used Obsidian was abundant
throughout the Shasta territory and was used to
make arrowheads, spear points, knives, and
scrapers. Rattlesnake venom was used by the
tribe as a poison for their arrows which were
marked with a blue streak. The Shasta used a
form of body armor made of hard elk or bear hide
and slender sticks wrapped together was worn by
the warriors. The enemies of the Shasta were the
neighboring Achomawi, Wintun, and Modoc tribes.
What food did the Shasta tribe eat?
The food that the Shasta tribe ate included
fish, principally trout, salmon and mussels.
Hunters also supplied meat from deer (venison),
elk and bear. California black and white oak
trees and the tan oaks provided an abundance of
acorns which were leeched in water or left until
they turned black in order to remove the bitter
tannic acid. The acorns were then roasted and
eaten whole or ground into acorn meal which was
used to make bread. The Shasta employed
different cooking methods when preparing salmon.
It was was roasted for immediate meals or
smoked, dried so it could be stored for future
use. The bones of the salmon were crushed and
stored and made into soup when hunting was
scarce. Sugar Pine nuts were steamed in earthen
ovens then dried and stored for later use in
making cakes or mixing with dried powered
salmon. Manzanita berries were used to make a
cider-like beverage. Large animal meat was
cooked by boiling, baking in earth ovens or
broiling over hot coals or an open fire. Insects
such as crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars and
locusts were baked. As the white settlers
encroached on their lands acorns became very
difficult to obtain because the oak trees were
being cut down to create white settlements.