Facts about the Wintun Native Indian
This article contains fast, fun facts and
interesting information about the Wintun Native
American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions
did the Wintun tribe live, what clothes did they wear, what
food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Wintun tribe with facts about their history.
What was the lifestyle and culture of the Wintun
The Wintun is the name given to three groups of
related Native American tribes who lived in
North California, including the Wintu
(northern), Nomlaki (central), and Patwin
(southern) tribes. Their name derives from 'wintuh',
meaning person, which the people called
themselves. They were neighbors to the Yana tribe,
with whom they were frequently traded. The
Wintun fished for salmon along the McCloud and
Sacramento rivers. They also fished for
Steelhead trout along the upper Trinity River. The
opening of the California trail brought wagon
trains of white settlers who
invaded the Wintun lands. The discovery of gold in
California increased the number interlopes and gold
rush settlers inundated their Wintun homeland. The
Wintun were fierce defenders of their
diminishing lands but the numbers of
their people swiftly diminished as they
succumbed to European diseases such as measles,
malaria, smallpox and influenza. The white settlers
encroached their lands using forests to build
fences and settlements. They also brought herds
of cattle that ruined the land. Oak trees were
cut down and acorns, a
staple food of the Wintun, became very
difficult to obtain. Conflicts arose between the
gold rush settlers and the Wintun Native Indians
which resulted in several massacres of Wintun
people which culminated in the Wintoon War.
Where did the Wintun tribe live?
The Wintun are people of the California Native
American cultural group. The location of their
tribal homelands are shown on the map.
Wintun settlements were located along the upper
Trinity River, along the Sacramento and McCloud
geography of the region in which they lived
dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Wintun
Land: Forests, creeks and rivers
Climate: Mild temperate climate
Natural Resources: Oak trees, acorns, buckeye
hazel nuts, bulbs, seeds, roots and grasses
Types of housing or shelters: Domed-shape
tule mat grass
houses or huts
Land animals: The animals included
deer, elk, chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels,
quail, mountain sheep and bear
Insects: Crickets, grasshoppers,
caterpillars and dried
locusts were all eaten to
supplement the diet
Wintun Village of Tule Mat Grass Houses
What did the Wintun tribe live in?
Grass Mat Houses: The Wintun tribe of California lived in shelters of dome-shaped
Grass Mat Houses. To build the grass houses, the Wintun men first created a
circular willow framework. The size was about 7
- 10 feet in diameter and about 7 feet high. The
women harvested the long green stems of tule or
other reeds that were dried over several weeks. After the
grass had dried, the women weaved and
sewed the rushes into rectangular mats
about 2 feet wide. The mats were sewn together
with dogbane (Indian hemp) and tied to the
willow frame. An opening in the roof created a
smoke hole. The doors of the Wintun grass houses always faced towards the east and were
built in sight of water.
What language did the Wintun tribe speak?
The members of the Wintun tribe spoke in the
What food did the Wintun tribe eat?
The food that the Wintun tribe ate included
salmon, trout, small birds and game. The
utilized broad dugout canoes for fishing. A staple food
of the Maidu were the acorns from the different
species of oak trees that provided an abundance
of these nuts. The acorns were gathered then
soaked in water, or left until they turned
black, in order to remove the taste of bitter
tannic acid. The acorns were then roasted and
eaten whole or ground into acorn meal which was
used to make a type of bread. The Wintun hunters
supplied meat from deer (venison) and small game
such as quail, geese, duck, rabbit and small rodents. Their
diet was supplements by eating fruits,
seeds, nuts, bulbs and roots. Insects such as
crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars
and locusts were baked when fresh meat was
What weapons did the Wintun use?
The weapons made by the Wintun included the use
of Obsidian that was abundant throughout the
Wintun territory and was used to make
arrowheads, spear points, knives, and various
tools and scrapers. The Wintun used a form of
body armor made from hard elk hide and slender
sticks wrapped together and worn by the
warriors. The enemies of the Wintun were the
Shasta, Klamath and Modoc tribes.
What clothes did the Wintun men wear?
The clothes worn by the Wintun men varied according to the seasons. During the
hot summer months the men wore a breech cloth or
simply went naked.
In the winter months warm clothing was
needed and their winter clothes were made from
the hides of animals such as deer (buckskin),
elk, squirrel, rabbit and wildcats. The Wintun clothing
and garments included fur robes and cloaks, shirts,
wrap-around kilts, mitts and leggings
that were often decorated with fringes. They wore
one-piece moccasins with a front seam whilst
hunting or traveling, but went barefoot
in the warmer weather.
What clothes did the Wintun women wear?
clothes worn by the Wintun women included blouses
and front and back aprons made
of shredded willow bark. Their dress fell to
calf length and were
belted and fringed. Special clothes were strung
with ornaments, tassels and porcupine quills.
Twined tule sandals or moccasins covered their
feet in the winter and they wore fur robes to keep
out the cold.