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California Region Of Native Americans
Transcript of California Region Of Native Americans
The Yokuts occupied a strip of land about 250 miles long in the central San Joaquin valley and a smaller strip of the eastern foothills that rise along the southern half of the valley. The Yokuts are divided into Southern Valley Yokuts, Northern Valley Yokuts, and Foothill Yokuts. Their languages are similar. Although they had 50-60 tribes, each one had their own name.
The name Yokuts comes from a word meaning "person" or "people" in the language of one group.
Yokuts lived in permanent houses most of the year, leaving only in the summer on trips to gather food. They had many different types of houses. Single families made houses that were oval shaped, framed with side poles tied to a central ridge pole and covered with tule mats. The Southern Valley tribes also built larger houses for as many as ten families to share. Each family had a fireplace and a door in the large house, but no walls separated one family from another. Houses in the foothills and dry valley places were sometimes built with the floor dug down a foot or two into the ground. Each village had a sweathouse and only men could use this for sweat baths and sleeping. Southern Valley Yokut villages did not have dance assembly houses, though these may have been used in Northern Valley villages. Both Valley and Foothills people put up shade roofs, like porches, outside their houses, so they could work outside in hot weather.
The San Joaquin Valley provided a variety of food for the Yokuts. Fishing was done throughout the year, especially by the Northern Valley tribes. Lake trout, perch, chubs, suckers, salmon and steelhead were caught in the lakes and rivers. Geese, ducks, and mud hens were caught with snares in the tule marshes. Mussels and turtles were also enjoyed as food by the Yokuts, but they did not eat frogs or many insects. Antelope, elk, and deer were killed when they came to the lakes to drink. Other animals and birds that were eaten included wild pigeons, quail, dogs, rabbits, squirrels and other rodents. The Yokuts may have been the only early Californians to raise dogs as food.
Clothing and TOOLS
Yokut women wore a skirt made of two pieces: a narrow fringed part in the front and a larger piece in the back. The skirts were made out of tule reeds, marsh grass, or rabbit skins. Men wore a piece of deerskin around their hips, or they went without clothes. Both rabbit skins and mud hen skins were used to make robes, which the people wore around their shoulders when the weather was cold. The Yokuts wore moccasins of deer or elk skin on their feet only when walking in rough country. Women wore a basket cap on their head when they were carrying a burden basket, which was held on by a forehead strap.
Tule reeds were made into baskets, cradles, and mats. The Yokuts used both the twining and coiling methods of making baskets. Some baskets were made on a foundation of tule reeds bound together with string. The people made baby cradles, bowl-shaped cooking baskets, cone-shaped carrying baskets, flat basket trays, seed beaters, and baskets for holding water.
Wood and stone were not as plentiful in the San Joaquin Valley as in many parts of California. Obsidian (volcanic glass) was used for knives and arrowheads and they got it through trade from the north and the mountain areas. When obsidian was not available, other stones like chert, jasper, and quartz were used to make knives and scrapers. Pieces of animal bone were sharpened to make awls, pointed tools for punching holes and as needles in sewing. Bows and arrows were used in hunting and in warfare. Though some bows and arrows were made by the Yokuts, others were from trade with other groups. Their arrows had feathers on them. Other animals were caught with traps and snares made from branches and brush. Fish traps were set up across streams. Spears were also used for fishing. Some birds were caught with nets made from milkweed fibers. An important tool was the one with which the hot stones were taken out of the cooking basket. This was a stick about 30 inches long with a loop at one end, used for stirring the mush and lifting out the stones.
The Valley Yokuts had canoe-shaped rafts made from tule reeds tied together in bundles. These boats were large enough to hold six people. They were pushed with long poles. The Foothill Yokuts made rafts by lashing together two logs.
Many Yokut dances and ceremonies were held outside, with brush fences surrounding the dance area. Eagle feathers, especially from baby eagles, were an important part of ceremonial decoration. Eagle down was used to make ceremonial skirts, known as chohun. Tall headdresses, called djuh, used the tail feathers of magpies around a base of crow feathers.
The Chumash Indians mainly lived in the southern coastal areas of California as well as the Channel Islands. Today, many California cities still bear Chumash Indian names including Simi Valley, Point Mugu, and Malibu. Chumash is believed to mean either “bead maker” or “seashell people.” At one point, there were between 10,000 and 20,000 Chumash Indians. Sadly, because of disease, by 1900, the population had decreased to 200. Today, there are approximately 5,000 people claiming to be of Chumash descent.
The Chumash house, or 'ap, was round and shaped like half an orange. It was made by setting willow poles in the ground in a circle. The poles were bent in at the top, to form a dome. Then smaller saplings or branches were tied on crosswise. To cover the outside, bulrush or cattails were added in layers starting at the bottom, each row overlapping the one below. Like shingles on a roof, this thatched covering kept out the rain. For air circulation a hole was left in the top, which was covered with a skin when it rained. In good weather the cooking was done outside, but when it rained a fire could be lit in the fire pit in the center of each house. This also provided warmth. The houses were 12-20 feet in diameter. The chief's house was up to 35 feet across.
The sweathouse, or 'apa'yik, was used to cleanse the body. Built partly underground and mostly used by men, the sweathouse was entered through a ladder in the roof. A fire was built inside to heat stones to keep the air very hot. People would sit in the sweathouse for a while, then go outside and jump into the cool water of a nearby creek, and then return to the sweathouse for a few more minutes. Herbs were burned in a central fire pit to hide the hunter's scent before he would hunt deer. This was done for health, cleanliness, and purification. Large sweathouses also served as men's meeting places. Another name for sweathouse is temascal, a Spanish word derived from Aztec.
The Chumash got most of their food from the sea, because they lived near the cost. However, they also ate plants, nuts, and seeds. The most popular plant food item was the oak acorn, which they used to make flour.
Clothing and Tools
For everyday use, the Chumash didn't wear much clothing. Women usually wore a two-piece skirt of deer skin or plant fiber. It hung to about knee length and had a narrow apron in front with a wider piece that wrapped around the back. Men and boys wore nothing at all, or sometimes a belt or a small net at the waist for carrying tools they might need.
In cold weather, people might wear capes of animal skins for warmth. A chief often wore a waist-length bearskin cape as a sign of his special status.
The plank canoe, or tomol, was eight to 30 feet long and was made using driftwood or redwood. The heavy one-piece floor had three or four rows of planks added to build up the sides. Each row of planks was glued in place with yop, a melted mixture of pine pitch and hardened asphalt. After the glue dried, each plank was fastened to the one below by drilling holes on each side of the seam and tying the boards' Tomol construction detail together with plant fiber string made from Indian hemp. The holes and seams were filled with more hot yop. Sanding was done using sandstone and finished with shark skin. Lastly, the canoe was painted and decorated.
The Chumash used both twined and coiled weaving techniques. It is for their beautiful coiled baskets -- trays, bowls of all sizes, treasure baskets and hats -- that the Chumash are most renowned. The coiled baskets have a spiraling foundation of three slender rods of juncus rush, wrapped and sewn together with split strands of the same material.
The Chumash used harpoons and curved hooks for fishing, and smoke fans (to smoke small animals out of their holes), spears, bows and arrows for hunting. The Chumash were highly skilled arrow makers, having created many different kinds of arrowheads, including some dipped in rattlesnake venom.
The Chumash also used shells and sharp stones for making cutlery. They made stone bowls too, but their real specialty was basket weaving.
It is likely that the Chumash were the supply source in southern California for the clamshell disk beads used as money by most of the central and southern Californians. The giant Pismo clam shell was broken into pieces, rounded into disks, with holes punched in the middle, and the disks strung on strings. Long tube-shaped beads, as much as 3 ½ inches long and made from other shells, were also valued.
With the Yokuts to the northeast, the Chumash traded shells and other seashore items for obsidian, salt, antelope and elk skins, and herbs. They also traded with the Salinan to the north and the Kitanemuk to the east.
While a few other early Californians left rock paintings, the Chumash are among the most interesting in the United States. These rock paintings probably had some religious or ceremonial function. The sites of the paintings, high in the coastal mountain range away from the villages, may have been sacred spots for the people. When food was easy to get, the people had more time for games, singing, and dancing. Each Chumash village had a flat area for dancing and ceremonies. They had no drums, but used flutes made of wood or bone, whistles, the musical bow, and rattles.
Yurok means "downriver people," which described where the Yurok where located in relation to other major tribes in the area.
The Yurok Indians are believed to have been located on the Northwest Pacific Coast in California and along the lower Klamath River since around the 14th century.
The Yurok and the neighboring tribes ate a lot of acorns, which was the staple food of most California Indians; but fish, primarily salmon, constituted a greater proportion of their food than was usual elsewhere. Small game was scarce in their territory, and while deer were abundant and their flesh esteemed, they were not eaten often. Most of the fish were smoked and packed in old baskets as strips or slabs. Surf fish were sun dried whole and hung from poles in rows. Bulbs were dug in early summer; seed were gathered on the ridge top prairies. Salt was secured from seaweed. The people of the coast captured large ocean mussels. The stranding of a whale was always a significant occasion, sometimes causing arguments. The Yurok favored its flesh above all other food, and carried dried slabs of the meat inland, but they never hunted them.
The Yurok tribe was skilled in shredding trees, using them only when they have fallen, and making homes out of them. The thatched huts that are made out of bundled grass and waterproof elk skins are home to the Yurok Indians. They are also talented in conserving trees, and carving planks to form shelter. They have sweathouses, too.
CLOTHING AND TOOLS
Yurok men didn't usually wear clothes, though they sometimes did wear short kilts. Yurok women wore long grass skirts decorated with shells and beads. Shirts were not necessary in the Yurok culture, but both men and women wore ponchos or deerskin robes in cool or rainy weather. The Yuroks wore sandals or moccasins on their feet and strands of shell necklaces around their necks.
The Yuroks used normal tools like any other Native Americans. Mainly nets, arrows, spears, and baskets.
The Luiseno are a Southern California tribe, located on the West Coast around what is now Oceanside. Most Luiseno people still live in this area today. They lived near water, so fishing was available.
Mountain trout are found in a few locations of the upper San Luis Rey river and in some of the mountain streams that empty into it. The only other fish is small in size. The trout were taken when the water was low by macerating a plant and throwing it in the pools, when they became stupefied and rose to the surface, where they were taken by hand, or scooped out with a rush basket. The small fish were taken with a dip net. While fish formed an unimportant article of food for those who lived inland, it was the chief dependence of those who lived on the coast. They used a canoe or raft of rushes and went out some distance from the shore to fish with a dip net. The coast people also fished with a hook and line.
The largest game animal was the black-tail deer, formerly abundant and still found today. They were previously hunted with bows and arrows, and supposedly taken in snares. Rabbits and jackrabbits were usually cooked by broiling on hot coals. They were also sometimes cooked in the earth oven. Sometimes, after being cooked in the earth oven, their flesh and bones were pounded up in a mortar, and either eaten at once or stored away for future use.
The main article of clothing was a cape-like garment of fur, covering the upper part of the body and reaching almost to the knees, but this was probably only worn in the coldest weather. During most of the year, the men are said to have worn no clothing at all. The capes were sometimes made of rabbit skins, cut into strips and woven with a woof of twine. Others were made of deer skins, and some of sea otter skins. Sea otter skins were the most highly prized, but were not common, except perhaps on the coast.
A basket hat of coiled ware was worn by women, especially when they had a burden to carry. It was used to protect the forehead, the cord of the carrying net resting on it. Men might have also used this basket hat when they had a burden to carry. Another covering for the head was woven from rushes; this was used in the same manner as the coiled basket hat.
Luiseno artists are famous for their Indian baskets and clay pottery. Luiseno hunters used bows and arrows or throwing sticks, and sometimes built wooden traps. Fishermen used nets and harpoons. Luiseno warriors fired their arrows or used war clubs.
Bows are usually about five feet long, somewhat thicker in the middle, and gradually tapering towards the ends, the intent being to give more spring to the bow and carry the arrow with greater force. They are commonly made of willow, also of elder and ash, which are considered superior to willow. Excellent wood for making bows is said to be furnished by a species of mountain ash, and still better by a shrub that grows in a few places on Palomar mountain.
The Luisenos traded frequently with neighboring tribes, such as the Cahuilla, Kumeyaay, and and Gabrielino tribes. The Southwest Indian trade routes ran from Southern California all the way east to Santa Fe, so the Luisenos were able to trade for many items that were not available in their own environment.
The primitive house was of a conical form. A circular pit was dug in the earth, about two feet deep. Some crotched poles were then set in the ground with the tops placed together, no king-pole being used. Other smaller poles were then leaned against these and the whole covered with brush so as to shed the rain. An opening was left at one side as an entrance. There was also an opening left at the top for smoke to escape. When the weather was fine, cooking was performed outside; at other times a fire was built in the center of the house. During cool nights a fire was also built in the center, and around this the Luisenos slept, with their feet towards it.