Prior to the year 1852 Tolowa Dee-ni' lived and thrived in a place that is now known as the Smith River Valley. Similar to many Pacific Northwest tribes, Tolowa Dee-ni' lived in harmony with the land and subsisted on the rich natural resources of the area. Riverine, marine, and mountainous foods and materials were bountiful. The valley was a healthy redwood and spruce forest. The hillsides were open grasslands. Life for Tolowa Dee-ni' was fulfilling and prosperous. They were master artisans, fisherman, hunters, traders and healers.
Our Tolowa Dee-ni' ancestor's flourishing way of life was turned upside down with the immigration of European settlers in the pursuit of gold. Droves of foreigners were arriving by ship in the nearby harbor of Crescent City and by pack animals from the east. It was 1853 when the land of Smith River Valley was claimed by these early miners, regardless of the presence of the original inhabitants, the Tolowa Dee-ni'.