Last modified: 2019-07-13 by rick wyatt
Keywords: cahto tribe | native american | california |
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image by Pete Loeser, 23 May 2014
The name Cahto (Kato) means loosely "People of the Lake" or "Lake People," and refers to an ancient lake shore where part of the Cahto people once lived. Located at the base of the 4,213 foot high Cahto Mountain in Mendocino County in Northern California, the lake bed is no longer there. Approximately 1,100 Cahto people lived in the Laytonville Long Valley area of the Pacific Coast Mountain range in the early 18th century in about 50 separate small village sites. The principal language of the Cahto was Wailakian.
In the late 1870s the intriguing and often misunderstood Big Head Cult movement, with its "Ghost Dance Ceremony," came to the Cahto people. The Cahto version of the Ghost Dance Ceremony consisted of about four nights of dancing with special detailed regalia and headgear. They left behind a rich collection of stories told in chants, usually sung in chorus.
Today, the only remaining Cahto tribal homeland is the 202 acres of land of the Cahto Rancheria in Laytonville which was purchased in 1908 for the Cahto Tribe by missionaries. The Rancheria currently has a population of 250 residents, with only 52 being voting members of the Cahto tribe.
Sources of information about the tribe:
The Cahto flag, is of modern design adopted in 2013. It features a stylized white outline of a bear claw centered on a black pictogram representing their ancestral lake. The pictogram, fimbriated in white, is centered on a red field with inner white and outer red borders. The words "CAHTO TRIBE" are written in white block letters above the lake pictogram.
Pete Loeser, 23 May 2014