Klamath, indigenous people of North America

Klamath klămˈəth [key], Native North Americans who in the 19th cent. lived in SW Oregon. They speak a language of the Sahaptin-Chinook branch of the Penutian linguistic stock (see Native American languages) and are related to the Modoc people. The material for the first description of the Klamath was collected by Peter Skene Ogden, who visited them in 1829 and opened trade relations. They subsisted by hunting, fishing, and collecting roots and wokas, or water-lily seeds. The Klamath were peaceful toward American settlers but not toward the Native Americans of N California. They raided those tribes periodically and carried off women and children, keeping their captives as slaves or selling them to other Native Americans. By the treaty of 1864 with the United States, the practice of slavery was abolished and their land NE of Upper Klamath Lake in Oregon was set aside as the Klamath Reservation. Today they are mostly farmers. In 1990 there were 3,100 Klamath in the United States.

See L. Spier, Klamath Ethnography (1930); T. Stern, The Klamath Tribe (1965, repr. 1988).

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