The Karuk people are among the last indigenous groups in California to suffer the consequences of Euro American contact. Living in the remote rugged north-western region of the state, the Karuk or “upriver” people benefited from a resource-rich ecosystem dominated by salmon, eel, elk, deer, and acorns. Karuk people managed resources effectively, and the resulting abundance allowed development of a beautiful language and highly developed artistic culture and ceremonial practices. As a result of genocide, policies, legislation, and outright deceit, the vast majority of Karuk Ancestral Territory, once spanning over one million acres, are now held in either private or federal ownership.

Project Team

Karuk Team
Lisa Hillman, Food Security Project Coordinator
Adrienne Harling, Sípnuuk Division Coordinator
Angela McLaughlin, Sípnuuk Digital Librarian
Bari Talley, Peoples Center Director
Leaf Hillman, Department of Natural Resources Director

CoDA Team
Michael Ashley, Director of Technology
Kelley Shanahan, Mukurtu Services and Training
Ruth Tringham, Digital Storytelling Expert


USDA, National Institute of Food and Agriculture-Agriculture and Food Research Initiative Food Security Grant
TANF, Digital Training Series


Jennifer Sowerwine, UC Berkeley
Lisa Hillman, Karuk Department of Natural Resources
Sípnuuk Advisory Committee: Shawn Borque, Ashley Allgier, Bill Tripp, Florrine Super, Frank Lake, Grant Gilkison, Josh Saxon, Laverne Glaze, Lillian Rentz, Janet Morehead, Sibyl Diver, Travis King, Alan Merrill, Alex Watts-Tobin


UC Berkeley, UC Cooperative Extension
Yurok Tribe
UC Davis
Karuk Tribe Department of Natural Resources
Mid Klamath Watershed Council
United States Forest Service
Klamath Tribes

The Karuk Department of Natural Resources’ (KDNR) led Sípnuuk Digital Archives, Library and Museum (Sípnuuk) was initiated and is partially funded through a 5-year USDA Food Security Grant. The Karuk Tribe and UC Berkeley are working together to build this resource for researchers, tribal departments and local communities to enhance understanding of regional food security issues, identify solutions and to document and provide access to knowledge of traditional foods and materials.

Thanks to funding from various sponsors, such as the Karuk TANF and an IMLS grant, CoDA has supported the ongoing development of Sípnuuk, which is the Karuk word for storage basket. Since 2014, CoDA has led a series of 4-Day onsite immersive workshops, the publication of a comprehensive Sípnuuk digitization resource, and provided skilled support for the portal.

Sípnuuk is an online digital resource for Karuk Tribal members, local residents, and the public which reflects and augments all Karuk Tribal Library collections of: Karuk history, language, traditions, knowledge and living culture. Sípnuuk helps support the mission of the Karuk People’s Center:

As the museum and cultural center of the Karuk Tribe, the Karuk People’s Center is devoted to the preservation, promotion and celebration of Karuk history, language, traditions and living culture.

The strategy that the Sípnuuk digital librarians and CoDA have deployed for the Karuk cultural collections results in a very large number of relevant documents for the Karuk culture that have been harmonized into a single resource for the community memory, for international scholarship, curriculum, research and public use and enjoyment. To ensure best digitization and web-curation of these important cultural media, the Sípnuuk digital librarians have adopted a born-archival digitization workflow, created together with CoDA, which integrates international data methods and standards, including the Technical Guidelines for Digitizing Cultural Heritage Materials and the DCC digital curation lifecycle guidelines.

The ever expanding resources and collections of Sípnuuk serve people of all ages, including tribal members, tribal employees, community members, members of the Karuk­ Berkeley Collaborative, government employees, non­profit employees, food justice activists, and the general public. However, access to Sípnuuk contents are based on Karuk ­defined cultural protocols. This includes tribally sanctioned information for the general public and scholarly researchers.

Digital Heritage Items in the AFRI Food Security Collection (and growing!)

Part-Time positions created for Tribal and local community members

Participants trained in digitization and preservation skills

new projects and partnerships for the KDNR with higher education institutions and TK projects nation-wide

Sípnuuk is accessible online at Sensitive cultural information is accessible to defined user groups outlined in the Sípnuuk Cultural Information Policy. Users may register by clicking the ‘login’ button on any page and sending a registration request. All requests are cleared by the Sípnuuk Advisory Committee.

Karuk Tribal Members met CoDA over two years ago to learn about what a CMS could offer us for our developing digital library. We were very suspicious that day… What we learned, however, was that Mukurtu could offer just what we were looking for in a data management system: a repository for our tribal heritage with differential access, and a group of culturally sensitive professionals with heart and soul… The Karuk Tribe is exhilarated by these opportunities and has developed a level of trust with CoDA hitherto unrivaled with any other partnering agencies.

Lisa Hillman

Food Security Project Coordinator, Karuk Department of Natural Resources

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