The Hupa Indian tribe comes from California; the tribe considers itself one of California's oldest populations, settling long before American pioneers and trappers arrived in Southern California in 1828. The Hupa Indians settled in the Hupa valley, a lush and fertile river valley adjacent to the Trinity River. Although among the earliest permanent settlers, the American government did not formally recognize the Hupa Indian nation until 1876.
After making contact with the Hupas, the American government established a Peace and Friendship Treaty in 1864. However, it did not formally recognize the Hupa tribe as a distinct nation until it signed a treaty with the tribe in 1876; this Congressional act also established physical tribal boundaries. That treaty recognized the distinct language, customs and traditions of the Hupa, preserving their culture through time.
Although the Hupa nation remained in one central location, Americans flocked westward during the early 1900s. The increasing number of settlers put pressure on the land and resources of California. Fortunately, a government proclamation, started by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1909 and completed in 1923, protected Hupa land from takings. An Executive Order in 1891 expanded the physical boundaries of the Hupa nation, declaring the area the Hupa Valley Reservation. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan reaffirmed Hupa ownership of the Reservation land.