What Did the Yurok Indians Trade?

Yurok Indians traded primarily shellfish, woodpecker skulls and animal pelts. The Yurok Indian tribe established residence along the coastline of California. The available natural resources, including fish and shellfish, provided sustenance to the Yurok Indians while discarded animal shells acted as primary currency, too, and appeared in Yurok ceremonies and rituals.

Yurok Indians relied heavily on mollusk shells for currency and revenue. They gave particular value to dentalium shells, which varied in size. These mollusk shells often made their way into Yurok settlements from northern Californian tribes. The Yurok, along with other tribes, used dentalium shells as currency. The largest shells received the greatest monetary value while smaller shells had less value. The Yurok traded shells on long strings, sometimes attaching nearly 30 shells to each string. Yurok Indians assigned various prices for these strings. They used the strings for many items, including purchasing boats, hunting tools, clothing and even wives. The Yurok, particularly men, also assigned high value to woodpecker scalps. These scalps decorated headdresses and other traditional ceremonial garments. Woodpecker scalps varied in color and size; these traits influenced their value. Men also held deerskin in high regards. They traded deerskin of various sizes and colors, considering white deerskin the rarest and most valuable of all material assets.