The Chimariko language was spoken along the Trinity River from its confluence with the South Fork Trinity River to the east, as well as in the upland valley of New River to the north and at the confluence of the South Fork Trinity River and Hayfork Creek to the south. In pre-contact times, there were a few hundred speakers (Silver 1978). The last first-language speaker died in the 1950s (Golla 2011).
Chimariko is an isolate within the hypothesized Hokan language family. This includes, in addition to Chimariko, Esselen, Karuk, the Palaihnihan languages (Achumawi and Atsugewi), the Pomoan languages (Central Pomo, Eastern Pomo, Kashaya, Northeastern Pomo, Northern Pomo, Southeastern Pomo, and Southern Pomo), Salinan, the Shastan languages (Konomihu, New River Shasta, Okwanuchu, and Shasta), Washo, Yana, and the Yuman languages (Cocopa, Kiliwa, Kumeyaay, Maricopa, Mojave, Pai, Paipai, and Quechan).
Selected archival materials at Berkeley
- Dixon, R. B. 1910. The Chimariko Indians and language. University of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology 5:293-380. [PDF]
- Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Jany, Carmen. 2009. Chimariko grammar: Areal and typological perspective. Berkeley: University of California Press. [PDF]