Tolowa Culture

Our Language

The Del Norte Indian Welfare Association sponsored the formation of the Tolowa Dee-ni’ Language program in 1969. The Dee-ni’ community began to write their oral tradition in earnest using the Tolowa version of the Uni-fon alphabet. The characters of the Uni-fon are unique and were written down by hand. The historic use of the handwritten Uni-fon Alphabet documented and amassed a good working foundation of linguistic information. Eventually, the Del Norte Indian Welfare Association collapsed in 1972. It left behind an established Tolowa language program with two State Eminence Credentialed Tolowa teachers including a young tribal member pursuing a bi-lingual Teaching Credential at Humboldt State University. This effort created the first edition of The Tolowa Language text in 1983 and its second edition as the XUS WE-YO’ in 1985. Read more about languages.

Our Lands

The Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation was established in 1908 and was the largest Reservation in the State of California, consisting of 160 acres. During termination, we lost all but a few acres of land, which consisted of an offshore rock, a cemetery, and a church. Today we have grown to over 950 acres of land in tribal ownership and over 1,900 tribal members. Learn more about the land.

Our Sovereignty

Native American tribes existed as sovereign governments long before European settlers arrived in North America. Treaties signed with European nations (and later the United States) in exchange for land guaranteed the tribes’ continued recognition and treatment as sovereign nations. Historically, state governments have been hostile to the concept of recognizing and dealing with tribes as sovereign governmental entities.