SHORT OVERVIEW OF CALIFORNIA INDIAN HISTORY
One manner in which we can seek to understand aboriginal California Indian cultures is to look at the tribes inhabiting similar climatic and ecological zones. What emerges from this approach is a remarkable similarity in material aspects of the many different tribes inhabiting those territories. Generally speaking technologies and materials used to manufacture tools, homes and storage containers show great similarity. Hunting, trapping and fishing technologies also are shared across tribal lines terrain, available water plants and animals affected the density of populations, settlement patterns as each tribe adjusted to it's environment.
This area would include the Tolowa, Shasta, Karok, Yurok Hupa Whilikut, Chilula, Chimarike and Wiyot tribes. The distinctive northern rainforest environment encouraged these tribes to establish their villages along the many rivers, lagoons and coastal bays that dotted their landscape. While this territory was crisscrossed with thousands of trails, the most efficient form of transportation was the dugout canoe used to travel up and down rivers and cross the wider and deeper ones such as the Klamath. These tribes used the great coast Redwood trees for the manufacture of their boats and houses. Redwoods were cleverly felled by burning at the base and then split with elkhorn wedges. Redwood and sometimes cedar planks were used to construct rectangular gabled homes. Baskets in a variety of designs were manufactured in with the twined technique only. Many of these arts survived into the twentieth century and traditional skills have enjoyed a great renaissance in the past twenty years.
The elaborate ritual life of these tribes featured a World Renewal ceremony held each Fall in the largest villages. Sponsored by the wealthiest men in the communities, the ceremony's purpose was to prevent future natural catastrophes such as earthquakes, floods or failure of acorn crop or a poor salmon run. Supplication to supernatural spirits. Because such disasters directly threaten the community, great attention to detail and the utmost solemnity accompanied such ceremonies. This and other traditional rituals continue to be practiced, despite the grinding poverty that plagues many of these groups.
These tribes were governed by the most wealthy and powerful lineage leaders. The great emphasis on wealth found in these cultures is reflected in the emphasis on private ownership of food resources such as oak groves and fishing areas.
This region included the Modoc, Achumawi, and Atsugewi tribes. The western portion of this territory was rich in acorn and Salmon. Further to the East, the climate changes from mountainous to a high desert type of topography. Here food resources were grass seeds, tuber berries along with rabbit and deer.
These Indians found tule to be a useful source of both food (the rootbulb is consumed) and a convenient material when laced together to form floor mats and structure covering. Volcanic mountains in the Western portion of their territory supplied the valuable trade commodity obsidian. The Social-political organization of these peoples was independent but connected to their neighbors by marriage ties. Following contact, the Achumawi and Atsuguewi suffered a tremendous population decline due to vigilante violence and respiratory diseases. The Modocs spectacular 1872 resistance to removal to the Oregon territory was the last heroic military defense of native sovereignty in 19th century California Indian History.
Some surviving Northeast tribesmen received public land allotments around the turn of the century. The XL Rancheria was established for some of these Indians in 1938. Tragically the surviving Modocs were exiled to either Oregon or Oklahoma.
This vast territory includes: Bear River, Mattale, Lassick, Nogatl, Wintun, Yana, Yahi, Maidu, Wintun, Sinkyone, Wailaki, Kato, Yuki, Pomo, Lake Miwok, Wappo, Coast Miwok, Interior Miwok, Wappo, Coast Miwok, Interior Miwok, Monache, Yokuts, Costanoan, Esselen, Salinan and Tubatulabal tribes.
Vast differences exists between the coastal peoples, nearby mountain range territories, from those living in the vast central valleys and on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada. Nevertheless, all of these tribes enjoyed an abundance of acorn and salmon that could be readily obtained in the waterways north of Monterey Bay. Deer, elk, antelope and rabbit were available elsewhere in vast quantities.
In this region basketry reached the height of greatest variety. Perhaps the Pomo basket makers created the most elaborate versions of this art. Both coiled and twine type baskets were produced throughout the region. Fortunately basket making survived the years of suppression of native arts and culture to once again become one of the most important culturally defining element for Indians in this region.
Common in this area was the semi-subterranean roundhouse where elaborate Kuksu dances were held in the past and continue to this day. These rituals assure the renewal of the world's natural foods both plant and animal. Despite differences, between tribes, these rituals share similar purposes.
Like everywhere else, in California, villages were fiercely independent and governed internally, The abundant food supply allowed for the establishment of villages of up to 1000 individuals, including craft specialists who produced specific objects and goods for a living. In smaller communities, each family produced all that was necessary for survival.
Southern California presents a varied and somewhat unique region of the state. Beginning in the north, tribes found in this area are the Chumash, Alliklik, Kitanemuk, Serrano, Gabrielino Luiseno Cahuilla, and the Kumeyaay. The landmass and climate varied considerably from the windswept offshore channel Islands that were principally inhabited by Chumash speaking peoples. Communication with their mainland neighbors was by large and graceful planked canoes powered by double paddle ores. These vessels were called "Tomols" and manufactured by a secretive guild of craftsmen. They could carry hundreds of pounds of trade goods and up to a dozen passengers. Like their northern neighbors, the Tactic speaking peoples of San Nicholas and Santa Catalina Islands built planked canoes and actively traded rich marine resources with mainland villages and tribes. Shoreline communities enjoyed the rich animal and faunal life of ocean, bays and wetlands environments. Interior tribes like the Serrano, Luiseno, Cahuilla, and Kumeyaay shared an environment rich in Sonoran life zone featuring vast quantities of rabbit, deer and an abundance of acorn, seeds and native grasses. At the higher elevations Desert Bighorn sheep were hunted.
Villages varied in size from poor desert communities with villages of as little as 100 people to the teaming Chumash villages with over a thousand inhabitants. Conical homes of arroweed, tule or croton were common, while whale bone structures could be found on the coast and nearby Channel Islands. Interior groups manufactured clay storage vessels sometimes decorated with paint. Baskets were everywhere manufactured with unique designs. Catalina Island possessed a soapstone or steatite quarry. This unique stone was soft and could easily be carved with cutting tools and shaped into vessels, pipes and cooking slabs.
Each tribe and community had a chieftain, sometimes females, whose duty it was to organize community events and settle conflicts among their followers. This leader was usually assisted by a crier or assistant, Shaman or Indian doctors were known everywhere and greatly respected. The ritual use of the hallucinogen jimsonweed (Datura meteloides) was primarily in male puberty rituals. Like other California Indian communities, society was divided into three classes, the elite, a middle class and finally a less successful lower class. These robust peoples were among the first to encounter the strangers who would change their world forever.
The Spanish entrada into Alta California was the last great expansions of Spain's vastly over extended empire in North America. Massive Indian revolts among the Pueblo Indians of the Rio Grande in the late 17th century provided the Franciscan padres with an argument to establish missions relatively free from colonial settlers. Thus California and its Spanish Colonization would be different from earlier efforts to simultaneously introduce missionaries and colonists in their world conquest schemes. Organized by the driven Franciscan administrator Junipero Serra and military authorities under Gaspar de Portola, they journeyed to San Diego in 1769 to establish the first of 21 coastal missions.
Despite romantic portraits of California missions they were essentially coercive religious, labor camps organized primarily to benefit the colonizers. The overall plan was to first militarily intimidate the local Indians with armed Spanish soldiers who always accompanied the Franciscans in their missionary efforts. At the same time the newcomers introduced domestic stock animals that gobbled up native foods and undermined the free or "genitle" tribes efforts to remain economically independent. A well established pattern of bribes, intimidation and the expected onslaught of European diseases insured experienced missionaries that eventually desperate parents of sick and dying children and many elders would prompt frightened Indian families to seek assistance from the newcomers who seemed to be immune to the horrible diseases that overwhelmed Indians. The missions were authorized by the crown to "convert" the Indians in a ten year period. Thereafter they were suppose to surrender their control over the missions livestock, fields, orchards and building to the Indians. But the padres never achieved this goal and the lands and wealth was stolen from the Indians.
Epidemic diseases proved to be the most significant factor in colonial efforts to overcome native resistance. Soon after the arrival of Spanish colonists, new diseases appeared among the tribes in close proximity Spanish missions. Scientific study of demographic trends during this period indicate the Indians of the America's did not possess any natural immunities to introduced European diseases. Maladies such as smallpox, syphilis, diphtheria and even children's' ailments such as chickenpox and measles caused untold suffering and death among Indians near the Spanish centers of population. Even before the outbreak of epidemics, a general population decline was recorded that can be attributed to the unhygenic environment of colonial population centers. A series of murderous epidemic diseases swept over the terrified mission Indian populations. Beginning in 1777 a voracious epidemic likely associated with a water born bacterial infection devastated Santa Clara Valley Costanoan children. Again children were the primary victims of a second epidemic of pneumonia and diphtheria expended from Monterey to Los Angeles was recorded in 1802. By far the worst of these terrifying epidemics began in 1806 and killed thousands of Indian children and adults. It has been identified as measles and attacked Indian populations from San Francisco to the central coast settlement of Santa Barbara. Sadly, the missionary practice of forcibly separating Indian children from their parents and incarcerating children from the age of six in filthy and disease ridden gender barracks most likely increased the suffering and death of above mentioned epidemics. Excessive manual labor demands of the missionaries and poor nutrition probably contributed to the Indians inability to resist such infections. Less easily measured damage to mission Indian tribes occurred as they vainly struggled to understand the biological tragedy that was overwhelming them. Faith in their traditional shaman suffered when native efforts were ineffective in stemming the tide of misery, suffering and death that life in the missions resulted in. With monotonous regularity, missionaries and other colonial officials reported upon the massive death and poor health of their Indian laborers. Pioneering demographer Sherburne F. Cook conducted exhaustive studies and concluded that perhaps as much as 60% of the population decline of mission Indians was due to introduced diseases.
The unrelenting labor demands, forced separation of children from their parents and un-ending physical coercion that characterized the life of Indians under padre's authority resulted in several well documented forms of Indian resistance. Within the missions, the so-called "converts" continued to surreptitiously worship their old deities as well as conduct native dances and rituals in secret. By far the most frequent form of mission Indian resistance was fugativism. While thousands of the 81,586 baptized Indians temporarily fled their missions, more that one out of 24 successfully escaped the plantation like mission labor camps. Many Mission Indians viewed the padres as powerful witches who could only be neutralized by assassination. Consequently, several assassinations occurred. At Mission San Miguel in the year of 1801 three padres were poisoned, one of whom died as a result. Four years later another San Miguel Yokut male attempted to stone a padre to death, In 1804 a San Diego Padre was poisoned by his personal cook Costanoan Indians at Mission Santa Cruz, in 1812, killed a padre for introducing a new instrument of torture which he unwisely announced he planned to use on some luckless neophytes awaiting a beating. Few contemporaries Americans know of the widespread armed revolts precipitated by Mission Indians against colonial authorities. The Kumeyaay of San Diego launched two serious military assaults against the missionaries and their military escorts within five weeks of their arrival in 1769. Desperate to stop an ugly pattern of sexual assaults, the Kumeyaay utterly destroyed Mission San Diego and killed the local padre in 1775. Quechan and Mohave Indians along the Colorado River to the east destroyed two missions, killed four missionaries and numerous other colonists in a spectacular uprising in 1781. This last rebellion permanently denied the only overland route into Alta California from Northern New Spain (Mexico) to Spanish authorities. Military efforts to reopen the road and punish the Indians were met with utter failure. The last great mission Indian revolt occurred in 1824 when disenchanted Chumash Indians violently overthrew mission control at Santa Barbara, Santa Ynez and La Purisima. Santa Barbara was sacked and abandoned while Santa Ynez Chumash torched 3/4 of the buildings before fleeing. Defiant Chumash at La Purisima in fact seized that mission and fought a pitched battle with colonial troops while a significant number of other Chumash escaped deep into the interior of the Southern San Joaquin Valley. After 1810 a growing number of guerrilla bands evolved in the interior when fugitive mission Indians allied with interior tribes and villages. Mounted on horses and using modern weapons, they began raiding mission livestock and fighting colonial military forces.
The impact of the mission system on the many coastal tribes was devastating. Missionaries required tribes to abandon their aboriginal territories and live in filthy, disease ridden and crowded labor camps. Massive herds on introduced stock animals and new seed crops soon crowded out aboriginal game animals and native plants. Feral hogs ate tons of raw acorns, depriving even the non-missionized tribes in the interior of a significant amount of aboriginal protein. Murderous waves of epidemic diseases swept over the terrified Mission Indian tribes resulting in massive suffering and death for thousands of native men, women and children. The short life expectancy of mission Indians prompted missionaries to vigorously pursue runaways and coerce interior tribes into supplying more and more laborers for the padres. Missionary activities therefore thoroughly disrupted not only coastal tribes, but their demand for healthy laborers seriously impacted adjacent interior tribes. Finally by 1836 the Mexican Republic forcibly stripped the padres of the power to coerce labor from the Indians and the mission rapidly collapsed. About 100,000 or nearly a third of the aboriginal population of California died as a direct consequence of the missions of California.
Despite the devastating population decline suffered by tribes in whose territories missions had been established, many managed to maintain tribal cohesion. After 1800, most mission populations were a hodgepodge of different tribes speaking a multiplicity of languages. Because many Indians refused to learn or feigned ignorance of the Spanish language, missionaries appointed labor overseers from each tribe to direct work crews. Such practical policies kept tribesmen from losing culturally distinct identity. Further evidence of cultural persistence was the practice of tribes maintaining separate housing in multi-tribal Indian villages built next to the missions. Finally, many former mission Indians continued to speak their native languages and provide researchers with detailed ethnographic and linguistic data well into the 20th century.
INDIANS AND THE MEXICAN REPUBLIC
In 1823 the Spanish Flag was replaced by that of the Mexican Republic. Little immediate change in personal or Indian policy occurred. However, the independence government was decidedly anti-clerical and the growing body of colonial leaders deeply resented the monopoly of Indian lands and the unpaid Indian labor enjoyed by the Franciscans. While no land grants to the colonists had occurred under Spanish rule, some 25 grazing permits or concessions had been issued to colonial citizens. This was the beginning of the dispossession of tribal lands by colonial authorities. The vast plantation like missions claimed about 1/6 of the present territory of the state. But legal title to these lands were assigned to the Spanish crown. The missions were only suppose to last 10 years, after which the developed estates were to be distributed to surviving mission Indians. It was assumed that the Indians would evolve into hardworking, tax paying citizens of Mexico. But the missionaries kept coming up with excuses why they should not surrender the rich pastoral and agrarian empire they had erected with the lands, resources and hard labor of mission Indians. The Mexican Republic's 1824 constitution declared Indians to be citizens with rights to both vote and hold public office. Despite this liberal declaration, Indians throughout the republic continued to be treated as slaves.
COLLAPSE OF THE MISSION SYSTEM
In actual practice, the new government gave 51 land grants to its colonial citizens between 1824 and 1834. These lands actually belonged to various tribes then incarcerated in nearby missions. These actions just increased the lust for more Indian lands by a growing body of colonial ranchers. There followed a growing chorus of demands that the missionaries surrender their monopoly on Indian labor and "free" the Indians. The sincerity those sentiments should be seriously doubted. The power of this class prevailed and between 1834-36 the government revoked the power of the Franciscans to extract labor from the Indians and inaugurated a plan to distribute mission lands. Venal public officials in charge of the distribution granted the most valuable lands to themselves and their relatives. The secularization processes, it was called, was so restrictive that few ex-mission Indians were eligible for the distributed lands. More significant still, the majority of surviving mission Indians were not native to the areas of coastal missions. Most neophytes at this time had been forced to relocate from their tribal domains and promptly returned to them following their liberation.
Many of these returned exiles were faced with difficult tasks of reconstructing their decimated communities in the wake of crippling population declines. Furthermore their tribal lands had become transformed by the introduction of vast herds of horses, cattle, sheep, goats and hogs that destroyed the native flora, the primary source of native diet. Wild game animals were likewise driven off by these new animals. What developed from this new condition was the emergence of guerrilla Indian bands made-up of former fugitive mission Indians and interior tribesmen from villages devastated by official and unofficial Mexican paramilitary attacks and slave hunting raids. Eventually a significant number of these interior groups joined together to form new conglomerate tribes. These innovative and resilient tribes quickly converted the anti-mission activities of their members into systematic efforts to re-assert their sovereignty by widespread and highly organized campaigns against Mexican ranchers and government authority in general.
Vastly overestimating their power, Mexican authorities authorized an additional 762 land grants by 1847. In reality the effectiveness of Indian stock raiders increased dramatically when American and Canadian fur trappers provided a lucrative market for purloined horses by the mid 1830's. Interior Mexican ranches were increasingly abandoned in the face of economic ruin by native stock raiding activities. Even Johann A. Sutter was reduced to begging the Mexican government to buy his fort following a mauling at the hands of Miwok Indians near the Calaveras in June of 1846.
Despite these successes, a series of murderous epidemics in the twilight years of the Mexican era severely reduced the interior population. For instance, in 1833 an American party of fur trappers introduced a murderous scourge of malaria into the Sacramento and San Joaquin River drainages. While traversing the epicenter of the plague, J. J. Warner reported,
From the head of the Sacramento to the great bend and slough of the San Joaquin we did not see more than six or eight live Indians; while large numbers of their skulls and dead bodies were seen under almost every shade tree near the water, where the uninhabited and deserted villages had been converted into graveyards.
In this tragedy more than 20,000 Central Valley Miwok, Yokuts, Wintun, and Maidu Indians perished. A new outbreak of small pox devastated Coast Miwok, Pomo, Wappo, and Wintun tribes. Approximately 2000 died in this 1837 epidemic originating from Fort Ross. By 1840 these and other murderous maladies had so thoroughly saturated the Indian population of Mexican California that diseases became endemic.
Mexican forced labor and violence at the hands of the militia and paramilitary slave hunting parties account for a significant amount of the population decline suffered by California Indians. On the eve of the American take-over the aboriginal population of approximately 310,000 had been reduced to about 150,000. This gut wrenching 50% decline had occurred in just 77 years. The implications for survivors is largely a mute tale of suffering and grieving over the loss of a stunning number of children, parents and elders. What came next was worse still.
THE AMERICAN INVASION
Alta California the poorly managed and badly neglected stepchild of Mexico was rapidly overwhelmed by a combination of aggressive Indian raids and the arrival of United States Army, Navy and Marine forces in the summer of 1846. Despite a seemingly irrational murderous attack on Sacramento River Maidu Indian villages by U.S. Army forces under the command of John C. Fremont, the majority of California Indians involved in that struggle aided the Americans as scouts, warrior-soldiers and wranglers.
When Mexican resistance collapsed in January of 1847, thereafter Indian Affairs was administered by a succession of military governors. Stock raiding Indians in the interior recommenced their depredations when they learned Indian slavers such as Mariano Guadalupe Vallejo and Johann A. Sutter had been appointed as Indian sub-agents. Military government's policy was to suppress stock raiding and furthermore imposed draconian restrictions on the free movement of Indians and required Indians to carry certificates of employment.
THE GOLD RUSH
The discovery of gold in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada at a sawmill construction site developed by Indian Agent Johann Sutter, ushered in one of the darkest episodes of dispossession widespread sexual assault and mass murder against the native people of California. Sutter immediately negotiated a treaty with the chief of the Coloma Nisenan Tribe which would have given a three year lease to lands surrounding the gold discovery site. During those negotiations, the chief prophetically warned Sutter that the yellow metal he so eagerly sought was, "very bad medicine. It belonged to a demon who devoured all who searched for it". Eventually the military governor refused to endorse Sutter's self-serving actions.
Within a year a hoard of 100,000 adventurers from all over the world descended upon the native peoples of California with catastrophic results. The entire state was scoured by gold seekers. Thinly spread government officials were overwhelmed by this unprecedented deluge of immigrants and all effective authority collapsed. Military authorities could not prevent widespread desertion of soldiers and chaos reigned.
A virtual reign of terror enveloped tribesmen the mining districts. Wanton killings and violence against Indians resisting miners developed into a deadly pattern. An Oustemah Nisenan female named Betsy later recalled,
A life of ease and peace was interrupted when I was a little girl by the arrival of the whitemen. Each day the population increased and the Indians feared the invaders and great consternation prevailed .... as gold excitement advanced, we were moved again and again, each time in haste. Indian children.... when taken into town would blacken their faces with dirt so the newcomers would not steal them....
Numerous vigilante type paramilitary troops were established whose principal occupation seems to have been to kill Indians and kidnap their children. Groups such as the Humbolt Home Guard, the Eel River Minutemen and the Placer Blades among others terrorized local Indians and caused the premier 19th century historian Hubert Howe Bancroft to describe them as follows.
"The California valley cannot grace her annals with a single Indian war bordering on respectability. It can, however, boast a hundred or two of as brutal butchering, on the part of our honest miners and brave pioneers, as any area of equal extent in our republic......"
The handiwork of these well armed death squads combined with the widespread random killing of Indians by individual miners resulted in the death of 100,000 Indians in the first two years of the gold rush. A staggering loss of two thirds of the population. Nothing in American Indian history is even remotely comparable to this massive orgy of theft and mass murder. Stunned survivors now perhaps numbering fewer than 70,000 teetered near the brink of total annihilation.
The newcomers sometimes met organized Indian resistance. In 1850 a Cupeno chief named Antonio Garra Sr. organized local Southern California Indians to resist an illegal tax imposed upon San Diego Indians by the county sheriff. Sporadic attacks upon both Americans and some Mexicans by Garra's followers resulted in a massive crackdown on Indian communities. Soon a rival Cahuilla chief captured Garra and turned him over to the authorities who promptly hung him and several of his followers. In 1851 several mountain Miwok tribes offered armed resistance to the hoard of miners overrunning their territory. When one tribe destroyed a trading post owned by an American who kept at least 12 Indian "wives" a paramilitary militia was formed and aggressively attacked Indians throughout the southern mines area. Eventually this group calling itself the "Mariposa Battalion" breached the unknown granite fortress of the valley of Yosemite. A ruthless campaign against the Yosemite Indians resulted in the capture of their Chief Teneya and a temporary exile to the San Joaquin River "Indian Farm".
In reality these Indian campaigns were motivated by rapacious greed of the miners to gain Indian lands and provide political capitol for ambitious office seekers. Sadly both the state and federal government eventually reimbursed the vast majority of these paramilitary forays for expenses incurred. This is indeed a dreary story of subsidized murder on a scale unequaled in all of this country's Indian wars.
TREATY MAKING AND TREATY REJECTION
In 1849 Washington sent two special emissaries to California to report on the nature of Mexico's recognition of Indian land titles in California. Neither spoke to a single Indian and eventually produced an ambiguous and inaccurate report to the great disadvantage of the Indians. Upon this misinformation, and in an attempt to stem the unprecedented chaos and mass murder of the gold miners confrontation with the California Indians, Congress authorized three federal officials to make treaties with the California Indians. Their purpose was to extinguish Indian land titles and provide the Indians with territories that would be protected from encroachment by non-Indians. They were given just $25,000 to accomplish this monumental task. Soon after their arrival in San Francisco in January of 1851, the enormous size of territory prompted the commissioners to split up and negotiate treaties on their own. The reports and correspondence of the treaty commissioners clearly demonstrate that the suspicious and reluctant Indians who could be persuaded to attend the treaty meetings were only vaguely aware of its purpose. This can be attributed to the frequent problems of translators who often had to translate several Indian dialects into Spanish and again into English. Few if any of the Indians could understand English. The random manner in which the commissioners organized the meetings resulted in the majority of tribes not participating. Despite these crippling drawbacks, the treaty process proceeded until January 5th of 1852. In all, eighteen treaties were negotiated. The treaties agreed to set aside certain tracts of land for the signatory tribes. They additionally promised the assistance of farmers, school teachers, blacksmiths, stock animals, seeds and agricultural equipment, cloth and much more. In return the signatory tribes promised to forever quitclaim to the United States their lands. Just what specific lands being surrendered were not specified. Anthropologists in the 20th century could only identify 67 tribes, 45 village names and 14 alternative spellings of tribal names. Eighteen groups were unidentifiable. Despite the obvious fact that not all California Indian tribes had been consulted or contacted they too would be bound by the negotiations. Nevertheless, the federal government promised to reserve 7,466,000 acres of land to the dispossessed Indians,
An immediate outcry from an enraged public followed the completion of the commissioner’s task. It was revealed that the commissioners had overspent their budget by a half a million dollars in the incredibly inflated economy of gold rush California. Local newspapers orchestrated an abusive campaign and local politicians echoed the fears of their compassionate electorate that the treaty reserves might contain something valuable, like gold. Most Americans simply wanted the Indians removed to some other territory or state. California's newly elected state senators provided the final blow. On July 8, 1852 the Senate in executive session refused to ratify the treaties. They were filed with an injunction of secrecy that was finally removed in 1905!
Meanwhile, Congress had created a commission to validate land tittles in California. The commission was required by law to both inform the Indians that it would be necessary to file claims for their lands and report upon the nature of these claims. Because no one bothered to inform the Indians of these requirements, no claims were submitted. Through this neat trick, the federal government "legally" avoided the normally lengthy and duplicitous negotiations over land sessions.
The practical result was the complete dispossession of the Indians in the eyes of the government. Despite this chicanery, several tribes would violently and later legally contest these frauds to defend their territory, homes and families.
From the native viewpoint, signatories of the treaties had agreed to move to specific locations promised in the treaties. Yet such attempts often met with violent attacks by miners and others opposed to the very existence of Indians. Non-treaty groups simply endured the madness and race hatred of those waging a merciless war against them. Most tribes did their best to withdraw from all contact with the mayhem overwhelming them.
A HARSH STATE GOVERNMENT
The formation of the state government proved to be an official instrument of the oppressive mentality of the miner's militia. In Governor McDougall first address to the legislature he promised, "a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the races until the Indian race becomes extinct....…" Despite guarantees in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, Indians were denied state citizenship, voting rights and more important still, the right to testify in court. These acts effectively removed all legal redress for native peoples and left them to the mercy of anyone who chose to sexual assault, kidnap even murder them. Despite entering the union as a free state in 1850, the California legislature rapidly enacted a series of laws legalizing Indian slavery. One of the laws sanctioned an indenture system similar to Mexican peonage in widespread practice throughout California prior to 1850. All levels of state, county and local governments participated in this ugly practice that evolved into a heartless policy of killing Indian parents and kidnapping and indenturing the victims children. Indian youth could be enslaved by the cruel act to the age of 30 for males and 25 for females. This barbarous law was finally repealed four years after President Lincoln's emancipation proclamation in 1863.
The federal government finally decided to establish an Indian policy in California in 1854 when Edward F. Beale was appointed Superintendent of Indian Affairs for California. Beale quickly established a prototype Indian preserve within the boundaries of the Army's military reserve in the Southern San Joaquin Valley, called Fort Tejon. The site was chosen because of the continuing problem of local horse raiding by Southern California Indians. Yokut, Gabrielino and Kitanemuk tribesmen were gathered together on this barren 50,000 acre parcel call San Sebastian. Beale's instruction from Washington authorized him to establish four additional reserves with a $250,000 budget. Apparently Beale squandered his entire allocation on less than 200 Indians at San Sebastian. This action becomes comprehensible only when it is known that within a decade, Beale wound up owning much of that short lived reserve. His behavior in office set the standard for decades of widespread corruption and incompetence that distinguishes the Bureau of Indian Affairs in California and elsewhere. Following Beale's removal from office in 1856, Col. T.J. Henely established Indian Reserves on the Klamath River, Nome Lackee near Colusa, Nome Cult (Round Valley) and the Mendocino Reserve at the mouth of the Noyo River on the coast. The latter two were both located in Mendocino County.
These hastily organized communities provided little in the way of support or even minimal refuge for native peoples cajoled to move there. These unsurveyed reserves lacked game, suitable agricultural lands and water. They soon became overrun with white squatters who systematically corrupted the Indians and introduced an epidemic of venereal diseases. More unsatisfactory still, were Indian Farms located on lands rented from newcomers now holding legal title to said lands. The Fresno and Kings River Indian Farms were established in the south-eastern San Joaquin Valley along the rivers of the same name. Federal records clearly show these farms provided only a handful of Indians homes, the majority completely lacked cultivation, but they did provide paychecks for the superintendents friends and political cronies. The majority of these early reserves and Indian Farms were abandoned in the 1860's due to the state's Indian slavery codes that allowed all able bodied males, females and even children to be indentured to white citizens. A great many reservation residents could not participate in the agricultural and ranching programs because their labor "belonged" to private state citizens. Frequently, federal and Indian agents themselves indentured his wards for personal enrichment. Government records for this period show that fewer than 3000 of the less than 70,000 surviving California Indians received recognition let alone provisions for reservations. South of the Tehachapi Mountains California Indians remained totally ignored by Washington. So what were the vast majority of Indians doing during this period?
LATE 19TH CENTURY ADAPTATION AND RESISTANCE
The vast majority of California Indians struggled to survive without government aid or recognition. Many on the verge of actual starvation dispersed throughout their territories and sought to support themselves through agriculture and ranch labor for the new "owners" of California. This was a traditional pattern of behavior when drought and other natural catastrophes struck. Deprived of land and their life sustaining resources, they were left with no other options. With a few notable exceptions, the mass murder of the Gold Rush era diminished, as Indian victims became scarce and survivors learned to avoid Americans whenever possible. The great hardships of this adaptation was made bearable with the development of a messianic cult movement called the Ghost Dance of 1870. In part triggered by the introduction of Christian missionary activities, this new religious movement was pan-tribal in nature and obviously a response to the massive population decline. The movement promised the return of dead relatives and the disappearance of the oppressors. It was most desperately embraced by those tribes who had most recently suffered great population declines. Despite lasting only a few years, it was fundamental in revitalizing intra-tribal religious integration. In short, it provided hope for the nearly hopeless situation Indian found themselves confronted with.
The last organized violent reaction to dispossession and federal Indian policy erupted between 1860-1872. The first was a series of Indian wars in Northwestern California. Here Yurok, Karok, Hupa and other tribes fought the increasingly paranoid and aggressive Americans who routinely murdered them, stole their children and burned their villages. Jack Norton, a Hupa historian characterized the situation as a "deranged frontier". Attempts to disarm Indians and continued kidnapping for sexual slavery quickly led to violent resistance. In 1858, the militia established a fort in the Hupa Valley to make war on the Wilkut and Chilula tribes. Many member of those tribes had been captured and deported to the Mendocino Reservation. Frustrated by the stiff resistance of interior groups, the militia found it easier to murder nearby inoffensive peaceful and non-hostile Indians. The notorious Indian Island massacre in Humbolt Bay was the bitter fruit of that race hatred. Eventually some Hupa Indians agreed to assist the soldiers in hunting their hostile neighbors. Despite this defection, several bands of Hupa joined the hostiles and effectively resisted until 1864 when they surrendered. This led to the establishment of the Hupa Valley Reservation in August of 1864.
Because both state and federal authorities seriously underestimated the number of surviving California Indians, plans to remove all Indians to the handful of reservations already established, proved impractical. Several attempts to place multiple tribes on single reservations frequently resulted in violence, mass murder and war. The Modoc war of 1872 was caused by such a policy that insisted the Modocs be deported out of California to the Klamath Reservation in Oregon. Driven twice from that reserve, a third attempt to deport the Modocs back to Klamath resulted in a stunning war in 1872. The Indian service removed the Konkow Indians of Chico and the Atsugewi of Shasta County to the Round Valley Reservation in 1862. Squatters overrunning the Reservation descended upon these unfortunate tribesmen and murdered 45 of them. The mob justified its actions by claiming the Indians might steal food from the squatters. Survivors fled in terror back to Chico, only to be again removed to Round Valley sometime afterwards. The BIA showed little interest in assisting such tribes. Those lucky enough to have reservations established in the aboriginal territories were understandably reluctant to share the scant advantages they enjoyed with newly arrived emigre tribes. Also true was the fact that no tribes desired to be relocated outside of their aboriginal territories. After all, each tribes creation story emphasized the sacred nature of its own particular landscape. Tradition emphasized territorially and to stray from it required one to steal food resources from neighboring tribes. Non-Indians could not fathom the intensity and depth of the Indians spiritual attachment to their territories.
A steady population decline accompanied by widespread reports of destitution and hunger haunted those tribes without reserved lands. Despite hardship encountered, survival demanded innovation and adaptation. Being driven to the edge of extinction, Indians demonstrated again and again a strong will to survive. That determination not withstanding, the widespread kidnapping, slavery and violence took a frightful toll on tribesmen and their cultures. Leadership lineage's became scattered and displaced. Many ceremonies could no longer be held because access to sacred places was now denied. Cultural mandates to feed ceremonial guests could no longer be achieved by those who otherwise were able to hold public rituals. Finally, Christian missionaries gained control at many reservations under President Grant's Peace Policy of 1869. These folks were determined to destroy Indian culture and aboriginal belief systems that undergirded it.
The California superintendency attracted a succession of special investigators caused by constant reports of corruption that reached Washington. Special reports conducted in 1858, 1867 and 1883 clearly and thoroughly document the corruption and inefficiency plaguing government programs for Indians. President Grant's Peace Policy of 1869 inaugurated an era of acculturation under duress. Policy makers in the government declared the only path of salvation for surviving Indians would be Christianization, along with the adaptation of private ownership of' property. Once these twin goals were realized, Indians would be rewarded with citizenship and take their place among the lower classes with other non-whites in American society. Reservation agents insisted their residents join churches and cease practicing the old ways. The General Allotment Act of 1887 forcibly divided reservation tribal lands, doling out small parcels to individual Indians and their families. If the allotee built a house, engaged in farming or ranching, sent his children to government Indian schools and renounced his tribal allegiance and otherwise pleased the agent, he would (after 25 years) receive title to his land and citizenship. Unlike tribal lands, these parcels would become taxable. The program was inaugurated in California in 1893. By 1930 approximately 2,300 allotments had been carved out of the tiny communal tribal reservation lands. Traditional Indians opposed the detribalizing goals of allotment. The uneven and unequal distribution of allotments was used by Indian agents to keep tribal populations divided and politically impotent. Nevertheless, considerable tribal resistance and pan-tribal organizing developed in opposition to allotment. The program ground to a halt in 1930 due to Indian opposition and failure of BIA to complete the necessary paperwork. The law was repealed in 1934. Thousands of acres of California Indian lands and millions of acres nationally were lost to this destructive and ill conceived policy.
Shasta Indian Tribe History
Shasta (from Sǔsti'ka, apparently the mane of a well known Indian tribe living about 1840 near the site of Yreka). A group of small tribes or divisions forming the Shastan linguistic family of north California and formerly extending into Oregon. The area occupied by the Shasta is quite irregular, and consists of one main and three subsidiary areas. The main body, comprising the Iruwaitsu, Kammatwa, Katiru, and Kikatsik, with whom there was little diversity in language, occupied Klamath river from Klamath Hot Springs to Happy Camp, the north half of Shasta valley, the whole of Scott valley, and the upper part of the south part of Salmon river. During the last hundred years, at least, they inhabited also the valley of Stewart river in Oregon from its source to the junction of Rogue river. The three subsidiary groups, consisting of the Konomihu, New River Indians, and Okwanuchu, occupied the forks of the Salmon, the head of New river, and McCloud and upper Sacramento rivers and Squaw creek. These subsidiary groups are now practically extinct. For the distribution of the component divisions see under their respective name, The culture and customs of the Shasta seem to have been much the same throughout this area, but linguistically they were divided into four groups speaking divergent dialects. Little record has been preserved of their characteristics, and with their decrease in numbers and proximity to civilization, they have lost practically all their native customs. They were a sedentary people, living in small villages, composed of rectangular, semisubterranean plank houses, similar to those in use by the Indians on the coast immediately to the west. Their food was largely vegetal, made up of acorns, seeds, and roots; but fish, particularly salmon, was an important factor in the food supply. The salmon were caught by net, weir, trap, and spear, and were dried and preserved for winter food. Their arts were few. Dugout canoes of rather broad, clumsy type, similar to those used nearer the mouth of the Klamath, were in use. The bow was the chief weapon. Carving was practically limited to rude spoons of wood and bone, painting was little used, and basketry was not developed to any great extent, being confined chiefly to basket caps for the women and small food baskets of simple form and ornament. There was no clan organization, and the village seems to have been the unit, as elsewhere in California. Their religious beliefs and ceremonials seem to have been only in small part similar to the tribes to the east and west of them, but their mythology is not as rich as that of the Maidu, Wintun, or other of the northern California linguistic groups. The first contact of the Shasta with the whites was with fur traders, who early in the 19th century trapped in their territory. With the opening of the trade route from Oregon to California by way of Sacramento valley in the middle of the 19th century, the Shasta came more into contact with civilization, and the development of gold mining in the 60's hastened the process of their extinction, for they soon succumbed to the unfavorable environment of the mining camp. There are fewer than a score now living, some on the Grande Ronde Reservation in Oregon, the others scattered about their former territory. The names Idakariuke, Ikaruck, and Kosetah have been mentioned, largely through misunderstanding, as those of Shasta divisions and villages.
adapted from, Shasta, the name of one of its divisions). A linguistic stock comprising two principal groups, the Sastean and the Palaihnihan of Powell, which until recently (Dixon in Am. Anthr., vii, 213, 1905, and in Internat. Cong. Amer., 1906, Quebec, 1907) were regarded as distinct families. The area occupied by the Shasta division was the Klamath valley in north California and south Oregon, extending, in the northern part, up the valleys of Jenny and Cottonwood creeks and over the entire valley of Stewart river to its mouth; from here they controlled the area along Rogue river, above the mouth of the Stewart, to Little Butte creek, as well as the basin of the latter stream, which heads near the base of Mt Pit. Another tribe, the Konomihu, determined by Dixon to be related to the Shasta group, occupied the region about the Forks of Salmon in California, extending for 7 miles up the south fork and 5 miles up the north fork, while above them, on the upper courses of the two forks and extending over the divide into the head of New river, resided the related New River tribe. Still another Shasta tribe, known as Okwanuchu, formerly occupied the head of Sacramento river down as far as Salt river and the upper part of the McCloud as far down as Squaw creek, together with the valley of the latter stream.
The other division of the family hitherto known as the Palaihnihan or Pit River Indians, consisting of the Achomaui, Astakiwi, Atsugewi, Atuami, Chumawi, Hantiwi, Humawhi, Hmawi, and Pakaulali, occupied chiefly the area drained by Pit river in extreme north California. For further information see under the tribal names.
Modoc Indian Tribe History
Modoc (from Móatokni, 'southerners'). A Lutuamian tribe, forming the southern division of that stock, in south west Oregon. The Modoc language is practically the same as the Klamath, the dialectic differences being extremely slight. This linguistic identity would indicate that the local separation of the two tribes must have been comparatively recent and has never been complete. The former habitat of the Modoc included Little Klamath lake, Modoc lake, Tule lake, Lost River valley, and Clear lake, and extended at times as far east as Goose lake. The most important bands of the tribe were at Little Klamath lake, Tule lake, and in the valley of Lost River. Frequent conflicts with white immigrants, in which both sides were guilty of many atrocities, have given the tribe an unfortunate reputation. In 1864 the Modoc joined the Klamath in ceding their territory to the United States and removed to Klamath reservation. They seem never to have been contented, however, and made persistent efforts to return and occupy their former lands on Lost River and its vicinity. In 1870 a prominent chief named Kintpuash, commonly known to history as Captain Jack, led the more turbulent portion of the tribe back to the California border and obstinately refused to return to the reservation. The first attempt to bring back the runaways by force brought on the Modoc war of 1872-73. After some
struggles Kintpuash and his band retreated to the lava-beds on the California frontier, and from January to April, 1873, successfully resisted the attempts of the troops to dislodge them. The progress of the war had been slow until April of that year, when two of the peace commissioners, who had been sent to treat with the renegades, were treacherously assassinated. In this act Kintpuash played the chief part. The campaign was then pushed with vigor, the Modoc were finally dispersed and captured, and Kintpuash and 5 other leaders were hanged at Ft Klamath in Oct., 1873. The tribe was then divided, a part being sent to Indian Territory and placed on the Quapaw reservation, where they had diminished to 56 by 1905. The remainder are on Klamath reservation, where they are apparently thriving, and numbered 223 in 1905.
Achomawi. From adzúma or achóma, "river."
Kō'm-maidüm, Maidu name, meaning "snow people."
Shawash, Yuki name for the Achomawi taken to Round Valley Reservation.
Connections. The Achomawi were originally classed with the Atsugewi as one stock under the name Palaihnihan, the Achomawan stock of Merriam (1926), and this in turn constitutes the eastern branch of the Shastan stock, which in turn is now placed under the widely spread Hokan family.
Location. In the drainage area of Pit River from near Montgomery Creek in Shasta County to Goose Lake on the Oregon line, with the exception of the territory watered by Burney, Hat, and Horse or Dixie Valley Creeks.
C. H. Merriam (1926) says that Achomawi is the Madehsi name for the Astakiwi which occupied all of Hot Springs Valley, and he adds the names of two other tribes between the last mentioned and Goose Lake, the Ko-se-al-lak'-te, and, higher up, at the lower end of the lake, the Hā'-we-si'-doc.
Population. Together with the Atsugewi, the Achomawi are estimated by Kroeber (1925) to have numbered 3,000 in 1770; in 1910 there were 985
Atsugewi. Their own name or that which the Achomawi applied to them; significance unknown.
Adwanuqdji, Ilmawi name.
Hat Creek Indians, popular English name.
Tcunoíyana, Yana name.
Connections. With the Achomawi, the Atsugewi constituted the Palaihnihan or eastern group of the Shastan stock, more recently placed by Dixon and Kroeber (1919) in the Hokan family.
Population. Kroeber estimates that in 1770 there were 3,000 of the Atsugewi and the Achomawi together. The Shastan Indians numbered 844 in 1930.
A tribe, constituting a distinct linguistic family, formerly occupying the territory from Round mountains near Pit river, Shasta County, to Deer creek, Tehama County, California. The west boundary was about 10 miles east of Sacramento river, both banks of that stream being held by the Wintun, with whom the Yana were frequently at war. The east boundary extended along the spurs running out to the north and south from Lassen butte. In Aug. 1864 the neighboring miners organized a massacre of the whole tribe, then numbering about 3,000, of whom all but about 50 were slaughtered in the course of a few days. In 1902 Dixon reported only about half a dozen remaining. A number of their myths have been recorded by Curtin.
Ishi, the last Yana (1916)
Wintun Indian Tribe
Wintun ('Indians,' 'people'). One of the 2 divisions of the Copehan family, the other being the Patwin. The Wintun territory was bounded on the north by Mt Shasta and the domain of the Lutuamian and Shastan families; on the south by a line running from the east boundary, about 10 miles east of Sacramento river, due west through Jacinto and the headwaters of Stony creek, Colusa County, California, to Kulanapan territory. The east boundary began at the headwaters of Bear creek, bearing south some miles east of and parallel to McCloud river. From Pit river to the neighborhood of Redding they occupied a triangular area east of the Sacramento. On the west the Wintun territory was bounded by that of the Kulanapan, Yukian, Chimarikan, and Quoratean families, and the Wailaki tribe.
The Wintun division of the Copehan family is rather homogeneous, the language, customs, and characteristics of the tribes presenting comparatively slight variations. Powers thought the Wintun were originally a sort of metropolitan tribe for the whole of N. California below Mt Shasta. Physically they were inclined to obesity; they were indifferent hunters but good fishermen, and were abundantly supplied with dried salmon. Roots of various kinds, manzanita berries, piñon nuts, and acorns were used as food; and according to Powers clover was eaten in great quantities in the blossoming season.
Dancing was a favorite amusement. Wintun marriage was of the simplest character and the man seldom paid for his bride. The dead were buried in ordinary graves, the bodies being doubled up and wrapped in mats or skins. The Wintun language presents many agreements with that of the Patwin division, vocabularies showing about a third of the words to be Common to both. For the Wintun subdivisions, see Copehan Family.
Maidu Indian Tribe History
Maidu ('man', Indian' ). A tribe formerly dwelling in Sacramento valley and the adjacent Sierra Nevada in California. This single tribe constitutes the entire Pujunan linguistic family of Powell, all the divisions of which called themselves Maidu, and distinguished themselves one from another by their local names only. The Maidu proper, comprising the divisions north of Bear river valley, were formerly considered a different stock from the Nishinam, who are now recognized as the southern branch of the family. The names of the Maidu villages and of the inhabitants were usually local place names. It maybe doubted if, in the following list of the divisional and village names, the former have a greater value than the latter or were in fact anything more than the larger villages with perhaps outlying settlements of a more or less temporary character.
Divisions: Cohes, Cushna, Hoitda, Honkut, Kiski, Konkau, Kulomum, Molma, Nimsewi, Pakamali, Tsaktomo, Tsamak, Tsulumsewi, Tummeli, Ustoma, Willi, Yumagatok, and Yunu.
The Yurok tribe traditionally lived in the far northwestern corner of California, along the lower Klamath River and on the Pacific Coast near its mouth. ("Yurok" means, in fact, "downriver," in the language of the Karoks who lived at its other end.) Unlike most native peoples of the west coast, the Yuroks are Algonquian speakers. There are about 3500 Yurok people in Northern California today; in some places, they have merged with their neighbors the Wiyot.
History: The California Indians were brutally trampled underfoot in the American gold rush of the 1800's, and the Yurok tribe was no exception. By most accounts a quiet and unassertive people, the Yurok Indians did not often clash with miners, but the government offices paying $5 bounties for the severed heads of Indian men did not tend to know the difference between the head of a Karok warrior and a Yurok fisherman, and all the natives of California suffered under the same yoke--more than 90% of the American Indian population of California were killed during the 19th century.
Karok Indian Tribe History
(karuk, 'upstream'; they have no name for themselves other than that for 'men' or 'people', arar, whence Arra-arra, Ara-ara, etc.). The name by which the Indians of the Quoratean family have, as a tribe, been generally called. They lived on Klamath river from Redcap creek to Indian creek, north west California. Below them on the river were the Yurok, above them the Shasta, to their east were other Shasta tribes, while on the west they were separated by a spur of the Siskiyou mountains from the Yurok and the Athapascan Tolowa. Salmon river, a tributary of the Klamath, was not Karok territory except for about 5 miles from its mouth,-but was held mainly by Shastan tribes. While the Karok language is fundamentally different front the languages of the adjacent Hupa and Yurok, the Karok people closely resemble these two tribes in mode of life and culture, and any description given of the latter will apply to the Karok. They differ from the Yurok principally in two points: One, that owing to the absence of redwood they do not make canoes but buy them from the Yurok; the other, that they celebrate a series of annual ceremonies called "making the world," which are held at Panamenik, Katimin, and Inam, with a similar observance at Amaikiara, while the Yurok possess no strictly analogous performances. The Karok had no divisions other than villages
The Hupa (also spelled Hoopa; Hupa: Natinixwe) are an Athabaskan tribe that inhabit northwestern California.
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) thought that the 1770 population of the Hupa was 1,000 and that the Chilula and Whilkut accounted for another 1,000. In 1943, Sherburne F. Cook (1976:170) proposed an aboriginal population of 1,000 for the Hupa and 600 for the Chilula. He subsequently suggested a population for the Hupa alone of 2,000 (Cook 1956:99-100). William J. Wallace (1978:176) felt that the latter estimate was "much too high", and allowed 1,000 for the Hupa, 500-600 for the Chilula, and 500 for the Whilkut.
Kroeber estimated the population of the Hupa in 1910 as 500.
Hupa are Native North Americans whose language belongs to the Athabaskan language family. Hupa tradition suggests that they lived in the Hoopa valley for over 4,000 years, but their language suggests that they are relatively recent immigrants from what is now western Canada.
In the 19th century, they occupied the South Fork of the Trinity River to the Hoopa valley to the Klamath River in California. Their red cedar-planked houses, dugout canoes, basket hats, and many elements in their mythology identify them with the Northwest Coast culture, of which they are the southernmost representatives; however, some of their customs, the use of a sweat house for ceremonies and the manufacture of acorn bread, are not characteristic of that culture area.
The Chilula were an Athapaskan tribe who inhabited the area on or near lower Redwood Creek, California 500 to 600 years before contact with whites. They have since been incorporated into the Hoopa tribe and live mainly on the Hoopa Reservation.
The Hupa name of a small Athapascan division occupying the upper portion of the valley of Redwood creek, north Cal. Their language differs slightly from that of the Hupa, from whom they were separated by a mountain ridge, and they might be considered a part of that tribe except that they seem to have had no political connection with them and differed in religious practices. The routes of the pack-trains lay through their territory, and the conflicts between the whites and Whilkut were frequent and bloody. The survivors were taken to the reservation at Hupa soon after its establishment, but after 1870 they drifted back to their old homes, where 10 or 12 families are still living. Below them on Redwood creek are the Chilula.
The Chimariko are said to be extinct as a separate group in the Handbook of the North American Indian. They were not numerous before contact with Europeans, perhaps a few hundred persons. They lived along 20 miles of the Trinity River above the south fork, 6 villages having been recorded at time of contact. Their houses and sweathouses were circular, with a single ridgepole, and earth piled on the bark roof. Their food sources were deer, elk and bear, salmon and eels, and acorns, pine-nuts and berries. They wore buckskin aprons (women) and buckskin trousers (men) deerskin robes, and rabbitskin blankets. Wealthy men might own dentalia shells, clam shell cylinder beads, woodpecker scalps, red obsidian blades and/or silver fox skin blankets, and articles made of horn. A rich man might use an elkhorn tray to hold glue to attach sinew to a bow, or a horn spoon with a carved handle. Personal ornamentation might consist of abalone or
dentalium shells, condor and eagle feathers, yellowhammer headbands or bearclaw necklaces. They made twined baskets, bowls of clay or soapstone, and clay toys of canoes and human figures. They also used wooden platters for meat. (Heizer: 1978) They spoke a Hokan language like the Shasta and the Karok, and followed a similar way of life. They got obsidian from the Wintun. (Davis: 1966)
Athapascans.The Mattole lived along the Mattole River in Northern California just below the Bear River people, south of Eel River. Their principle food source was the acorn, and salmon was also very important in their diet. They also took sea-lions, gathered molluscs and fished in the sea, but these sources were not as important to them as the first two.
The main type of house for the Mattole, as well as the Sinkyone, Wailaki, Nongatl and Bear River was round, with a hip roof and a single ridge-pole. The Mattole also built a lean-to of redwood or fir slabs or bark. The floor was dug out to about a 2 foot depth, and the center firepit might have a drying rack near it. Two or more families might live in the same house. They used hides with fur for bedding, or rabbit pelt blankets, and mats made of tule, rush or the inner bark of trees.
Baskets of the area were twined, and the Mattole had a cylindrical fish creel which resembled a quail trap used by the Wailaki. The people of this area used dugout canoes and log rafts to travel on the river. (Heizer: 1978)
Eel River Athapaskans
The Eel River Athapaskans include the Wailaki, Lassik, Nongatl, and Sinkyone groups of Native Americans that traditionallly lived on or near the Eel River of northwestern California.
These groups speak dialects of a single language belonging to the Athapaskan linguistic family which is prominently represented in Alaska, western Canada, and the southwestern U.S. Other related Athapaskan groups neighboring the Eel River Athapaskans included the Hupa-Whilkut-Chilula to the north, the Mattole on the coast to the west, and the Kato to the south.
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) proposed a 1770 population for the Nongatl, Sinkyone, and Lassik as 2,000, and the population of the Wailaki as 1,000. Sherburne F. Cook (1976) suggested a total of 4,700 for the Nongatl, Sinkyone, Lassik, Wailaki, Mattole, and Kato. Martin A. Baumhoff (1958) estimated the aboriginal populations as 2,325 for the Nongatl, 4,221 for the Sinkyone, 1,411 for the Lassik, and 2,760 for the Wailaki, or a total of 10,717 for the four Eel River Athapaskan groups.
Kroeber estimated the combined population of the Nongatl, Sinkyone, and Lassik in 1910 as 100, and the population of the Wailaki as 200
Kato is a Pomo word, meaning "lake", and may have referred to an important Cahto village site, which the Kato tribe themselves called Djilbi. Kato is one of the five sub-dialects of the Wailaki group, one of four Athapascan dialect groups in northwestern California.
The sub-dialect groups can hardly be called "tribes", as they were not organized on tribal lines. Although they spoke one language and were aware of their own common ethnic origin, they had no feeling of political solidarity. The term, "Kato tribe", is therefore merely a convenience for the ethnologist.
The Kato are sometimes referred to as "Kaipomo Indians". Their language relates them distantly to the Athapascan people of the Alaskan interior and northern Canada, as well as to the Navajos and Apaches of the Southwest.
Historically, the Kato lived farthest south of all the Athapascans in California, occupying in particular, Cahto Valley and Long Valley, and, in general, the country south of Blue Rock and between the headwaters of the two main branches of Eel River. This region comprises rolling hills and oak savannas, and is veined with streams, most of which are almost dry during the dry summers, but are torrential during the rainy winters.
The Kato manufactured such articles of stone, bone, horn, wood and skin, as were commonly made in northern California. The primitive costume for both men and women was a tanned deer-skin, wrapped about the waist, and a close-fitting knitted cap, which kept in place the knot of hair at the back of the head. At a later period, the Kato garment included a shirt made of two deer-skins, laced down the front and reaching to the knees. Both men and women generally had tattoos on their faces and the chest designs consisted largely of upright lines, both broken and straight.
In constructing a Kato house, a circular excavation about two feet deep was prepared, and in it, at the corners of a square were erected four forked posts, the front pair being a little higher than the other, so that the roof would have a slight pitch to the rear. The roof was in fact so small that it was of much less importance in determining the final shape of the house than was the circularity of the base. The space between the posts were stuffed with bunches of long grasses, and slabs of wood and bark. An opening in the roof served to carry off smoke, and the doorway was a narrow opening in front from ground to roof. As many as three families occupied one of these little houses, all cooking at the same fire. For summer camps, brush lean-tos were set up. The dog was the only domesticated animal.
Like other Athapascans of the Pacific area, the Kato were not professional warriors, fighting for pleasure and glory, but when their rights were invaded, they could make war with ferocity.
A favorite pastime for the females was to assemble early in the evening for singing in chorus. One of the best singers would lead, and two others kept time by striking one bone with another. They all sat on the ground in the open, and sang one song after another far into the night. The men took no part, but hang around and listened.
In the early 18th century, the Kato lived in approximately 50 village sites. Their land today is the Laytonville Rancheria, with about 129 Kato-Pomo people living there in 1990. A few Kato also live on the Round Valley Reservation. However, most Kato today live in Mendocino County.
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) put the 1770 population of the Kato at 500. Sherburne F. Cook (1956:103) estimated the pre-contact populations of the Kato at 1,100. James E. Myers (1978) thought the total might be 500.
Each village had its chief, and some villages, a second chief. Generally, the chief’s son succeeded to the office, but if a headman died without sons, the people, by common consent and without formal voting, selected from among themselves the man whom they regarded as best fitted for the place.
The duty of a chief was to be the adviser of his people. When anything of great importance was to be decided, the village chief summoned the council, which comprised all the elder men. Each expressed his opinion, and the chief would go along with the majority decision.
Many of the social practices of the Kato tribe show how strongly they were influenced by the culture of northern-central California.
Children of both sexes were required to observe certain rites at the age of puberty.
Annually in midsummer, a group of boys, ranging from 12 to perhaps 16 years old, were led out to a solitary place by two men, one of whom was the teacher. Here, they received instructions in mythology, and the supposed origin of customs, such as the mortuary rites, shamanistic practices and puberty observances. In the winter, these boys assembled again in the ceremonial house and remained there during the four winter months for instructions on tribal folklore.
At puberty, a girl began to live a very quiet and abstemious life for five months, remaining always in or near the house, abstaining from meat, and drinking little water. She was not permitted to work, lest she catch a cold.
Marriage was arranged between the two persons concerned, without consulting anybody else. Having secured a girl’s consent, her lover would sleep with her clandestinely at night, and at dawn, stole away. The secret was preserved as long as possible, perhaps for several days, and the news of the match transpired without formal announcement, even to the girl’s parents, who would learn of their daughter’s marriage in this same, indirect fashion. His marriage, no longer a secret, the young man might then erect a house of his own.
The bond was no more easily tied than loosened, for either could leave the other for any reason whatsoever, the man retaining the male children and the woman, the female. Children were not regarded as belonging any more to the paternal than to the maternal side. When adultery was discovered, the only result was a little bickering and perhaps, an invitation to the offender to take up permanent relations with the new love.
In preparation for burial, a corpse was washed, clothed in good garments, and wrapped in deer skins. A pit is excavated on a dry hillside and the bottom, laid with a floor of poles, covered with bark and several deer skins. On this was deposited the corpse, who is then covered with bark, before throwing in the earth.
The entire population accompanied the bearers to the grave, and wailed loudly. Women, and occasionally men, cut their hair short as a symbol of grief. For persons of prominence, a mourning ceremony would be held in the year following their death. This ceremony marked the end of the mourning period, and those who had hitherto wept, became immediately cheerful and smiling.
The shamans of the Kato tribe were of three classes:
- the 'ŭtiyíņ', who removed, by sucking, the foreign object that caused, or rather was, the disease;
- the 'náchǔlna', who by the use of uncouth costumes and grotesque antics, cured illness caused by fabulous woodland creatures; and
- the 'chģhályiśh', who were not healers at all, but the restored victims of the diminutive "outside people", possessing the faculty of foreseeing the future in dreams.
The ŭtiyíņ became medicine-men by instruction, not by supposedly supernatural agencies; but the others acquired their power solely through dreams. When the old men of a village deemed it advisable to have a new ŭtiyíņ or "sucking doctor", either because of the death of some of the shamans or because of their waning power, the active and the retired shamans selected a promising young man, and with his consent, took him away from the village to a solitary place in the hills. The one who had been selected to be his instructor and "father" would pray and instruct the young man in the secrets of the medicine-men.
When a medicine-man was summoned, any others of that profession who happened to be nearby could come and observe. If the medicine-man first called upon could not effect a cure, he would then ask the assistance of one more capable than himself.
While engaged in his work, a shaman would beseech the unnamed powers for help, naming the various mountains of the region and asking the spirits resident there to assist him. He would also call on Nághai-cho, and occasionally on Chénĕśh.
The religious conceptions of the Kato tribe are grouped around two mythological characters: Chénĕśh, the creator, who is identified with thunder and lightning, and his companion, Nághai-cho (“walker great”). The latter is a somewhat mischievous personage, who in the myth, constantly urges Chénĕśh to acts of creation, while pretending that he himself has the knowledge and power to perform them, if only he has the desire to do so.
In mythology, as in other phases of their culture, the Kato tribe showed their susceptibility to the double influence to which they had been exposed. With a creation story of the type prevailing in central California, they preceded it with an account of a race of animal-people who were swept from the earth by the deluge — a theme characteristic of North Pacific Coast mythology.
The creator, Chénĕśh, who is identified with lightning, dwelt in the sky. Below was an expanse of water, with a rim of land in the north. With his companion, Nághai-cho, he descended and turned a monstrous deer into land. Chénĕśh created the people, but Nághai-cho made the mountains and the streams. In everything, the latter tried to outdo Chénĕśh, playing the role, usually assigned to Coyote, the buffoon and trickster, in the mythology of central California.
The Yuki Indian people were traditionally located in northwestern California, just south of the area historically occupied by the Athabascan speakers. Their language, together with Wappo, forms one branch of the Penutian language family, although there are no speakers of Yuki today. Along the coast, the Yuki depended on fish and shellfish, with land resources of secondary importance. Along the major rivers, they ate king salmon, with acorns and game of lesser importance. In the foothills of the Coast Range, acorns were the major staple food resource, followed by other vegetable foods and game. Today there are about 85 people of Yuki descent, with around 50 living on the Round Valley Reservation. For pictures, see: Edward S. Curtis's The North American Indian.
A division of the Yuki of northern California, speaking a dialect divergent from that of the Round valley Indians. They lived on South Eel river above its confluence with the middle fork of the Eel river, or in adjacent territories, and on the headwaters of Russian River in upper Potter valley. To the north of them were the Witukomnom Yuki, to the east the Wintun and on the other sides were Pomo tries. The Pomo call them Tatu, the whites Redwoods, from Redwood Creek.
People: The Wiyot people traditionally lived on the far northwest coast of California, along the shores of Humboldt Bay. Unlike most native peoples of the west coast, the Wiyot were Algonquian speakers. There are about 500 Wiyot Indians on four rancherias in Northern California today; in some places, they have merged with their neighbors the Yurok.
History: Always a small tribe, the Wiyot Indians were known as friendly and hospitable people and got along well with white settlers until gold was discovered in California. Like most Native Americans in the region, the Wiyot tribe was trampled underfoot in the Gold Rush and its aftermath. The Wiyots suffered a worse fate than most, though. In 1860, a local man named Hank Larrabee--called a "thug" even by the other rowdy white miners in the area--stormed Indian Island with a few followers while the Wiyot women and children were preparing sacred ceremonies there and killed almost all of them. The survivors of this massacre have mostly merged together with their allies the Yurok.
The Pomo people are a linguistic branch of Native American people of Northern California. They live on the Pacific Coast in the Northern San Francisco Bay Area between Cleone and Duncan's Point, and inland to Clear Lake. A separate group of the same language, called the Northeast Pomo, also lived near Stonyford.
The name Pomo derived from the word pomo and poma in the people's native dialects, it originally meant "those who live at red earth hole" and was once the name of a village in Southern Potter Valley, possibly referring to local deposits of the red mineral magnesite that was used for red beads, or to the reddish earth and clay such as hematite mined in the area. At the same time in the Northern Pomo dialect, -pomo or -poma was used as a suffix after the names of places, to mean a subgroup of people of the place. By the year 1877 (possibly beginning with Powers) Pomo has been extended in English to mean the entire stock of people known today as the Pomo.
The people called Pomo were originally linked by location, language, and other elements of culture. They were not socially or politically linked as a large unified "tribe." Instead, they lived in small groups ("bands"), linked by geography, lineage and marriage, and relied upon fishing, hunting and gathering for their food.
The Pomo spoke seven distinct Pomoan languages that are not mutually intelligible. There are still a few speakers of some of the Pomoan languages and efforts are being made by the Pomo people to preserve those languages and other elements of their culture.
The Pomo people participated in shamanism, one form this took was the Kuksu religion that was evident in Central and Northern California, which included elaborate acting and dancing ceremonies in traditional costume, an annual mourning ceremony, puberty rites of passage, shamanic intervention with the spirit world and an all-male society that met in subterranean dance rooms. The Pomo believed in a supernatural being the Kuksu or Guksu (depending on their dialect) who lived in the south and who came during ceremonies to heal their illnesses. Medicine men dressed up as Kuksu. Another later shamanistic movement that took place was the Messiah Cult, introduced to them by the Wintun and was practiced through 1900. This cult believed in prophets who had dreams, "waking visions" and revelations from "presiding spirits" and "virtually formed a priesthood." The prophets earned much respect and status among the people.
The record of Pomo myths, legends, tales, and histories is extensive. The body of narratives is classed within the Central California cultural pattern, but influences from the Northwest Coast and, more tenuously, from the Plateau region have also been noted.
The Pomo had a strong mythology of creation and world order, that includes the personification of the Kuksu of Guksu healer spirit, spirits from six cardinal directions, and the Coyote as their ancestor and creator god.
According to linguists, the Pomo people descend from the Hokan speaking people in the Sonoma County, California region, which was a critical meeting point of coastal redwood forests and interior valleys with their mixed woodlands. Linguists think that about 7000 BC a Hokan speaking people migrated into the valley and mountain regions around Clear Lake, and their language evolved into "Proto-Pomo." The lake was rich in resources to them. About 4000 BC to 5000 BC some of the pro-Pomoans migrated into the Russian River Valley and north to present day Ukiah. Their language diverged into western, southern, central and northern Pomo. Another people, possibly Yukian speakers, lived first in the Russian River Valley and the Lake Sonoma area but the Pomoans slowly took these places over.
One Pomo area that was studied in great detail by archaeologists was the Lake Sonoma area, concerning 17,000 acres (69 km²) in the North Coast Range, west of the town of Geyserville) (considered an "upland" valley in Pomo territory). It was surveyed and excavated in 1978 by the Warm Springs Cultural Resources Study of Sonoma State University, before the valley was submerged under water with the completion of the Warm Springs Dam in the 1980s. There the archaeology surveyors documented over 62 sites of Pomo prehistory, including 38 middens, and numerous petroglyphs. Their excavations and findings suggested that: In the oldest phase "Skaggs Phase" 3000 BC - 500 BC, the surveyors identified the oldest human-inhabited site in the valley, by radio carbon dating was 3280 BC, at just one site ("the broken bridge site"). The next site did not date until 1843 BC ("Oregon Oak Place"). The surveyors suggested that this valley was remote and sparsely settled by anyone before the Pomo people, compared to the lower river valleys. The Skaggs Phase sites had millingstones and handstones for grinding seeds and may have been hunting villages or temporary camps. Obsidian was used only rarely, mainly from Mt. Konocti. Petroglyphs were absent and population was focused only along major creeks.
The next phase, "The Dry Creek Phase" lasted about from 500 BC to 1300 AD was very different: the land was populated more extensively and permanently. Archaeologists believe a Pomoan group took over the lands in this phase, and created 14 additional sites in the Warm Springs area and Upper Dry Creek Area. Bowl mortars and pestles appeared in this phase, probably used to pound acorns (as opposed to the milling stones used for seeds). The sites were more permanent and lifeways "more complex" as beads and ornaments appeared in this phase and half the artifacts were made of obsidian. Steatite objects were found that must have been imported into the region to make beads, pendents and mortars. Trade was clear on a large scale.
The next phase, coined the "Smith Phase" after the Pomo consultants, from 1300 AD to mid-1800s: The surveyors mapped 30 sites in this era showing a gradual transition and intensification of trends. The bow and arrow appeared as the main technological advancement. Shell-bead manufacturing and drill production was important. Drills were found in high numbers. Clamshell beads were also found in numbers, a major currency among the Indians of Central America, indicating a vast trade network.
The way of life of the Pomo people changed with the arrival of immigrating Spanish and European-Americans in California. At first with the Spanish missionaries, some of the southern Pomo were moved to the Mission San Francisco, later the Mission Sonoma to work and live.
In the Russian River Valley, a missionary baptized the Makahmo Pomo people of the Cloverdale area, and many Pomo people fled the valley because of this. One such group fled to the Upper Dry Creek Area. The surveyors of the Lake Sonoma region believe this is why the villages became more centralized. They suggest the people retreated to this remote valley and attempted to band together and defend themselves here.
In 1837 a very deadly epidemic of small pox that came from settlements at Fort Ross wiped out most native people in the Sonoma and Napa regions.
In 1850 the Russian River Valley Area was settled by the 49ers and "Lake Sonoma Valley" area was homesteaded out. Many Pomo were then taken to reservations so that the new Americans could homestead the former Pomo lands. Some Pomo took jobs as ranch laborers, others lived in refuge villages.
One ghost town in the Lake Sonoma Valley excavations was identified as "Amacha" built for 100 people but hardly used. Elder natives of the region remember their grandfathers hid out from the oncoming immigrants in the mid-1850s at Amacha and think that one day soldiers reputedly took all the people in the village to government lands and burned the village houses.
The Wappo are a group of Native Americans who traditionally lived in Northern California in the areas of Napa Valley, the south shore of Clear Lake, Alexander Valley, and Russian River in Northern California. When Mexicans arrived to colonize California, Wappo villages existed near the present-day towns of Yountville, St. Helena and Calistoga. Those on the south shore of Clear Lake were completely absorbed and dispersed to the Spanish missions in California. The mission accounted for at least 550 Wappo baptisms (Cook, 1976:174).
The Wappo lived by hunting and gathering, and lived in small groups without centralized political authority, in homes built from branches, leaves and mud. Their woven baskets were so well-crafted that they could hold water.
The name Wappo is an Americanization of the Spanish term 'guapo', which means, among other things, 'brave'. They were known as brave for their stubborn resistance to Mexican domination, particularly their resistance to all military attempts from General Vallejo and his enlisted allies. In 1836 the warring parties signed a peace treaty.
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) put the 1770 population of the Wappo at 1,000. Sherburne F. Cook (1976:174) raised this estimate to 1,650.
By the early 1850s, the surviving Wappo were reported to number between 188 and 800 (Cook 1976:239, 351, 357). However population dropped by 1880 to 50, and the 1910 Census returned only 73.(Cook 1976:239, 351).
('man,' 'person'). A name adopted by Powers to designate a division of the Copehan family. They occupied the area extending from Stony creek, Colusa County, to Suisun Bay, Solano County, California, and from Sacramento river to the boundary of the Kulanapan family on the west, but excluding the so-called Coyote Valley Indians on the headwaters of Putah creek in the south part of Lake County, determined by Barrett to be Moquelumnan and not Copehan. The dialects of this division differ considerably from those of the Wintun. Powers believed the Patwin were once very numerous. The manners and customs of the tribes in the interior and on the mountains differed greatly from those near the shore. On the plains and in the valleys in building a dwelling they excavated the soil for about 2 feet, banked up enough earth to keep out the water, and threw the remainder on the roof in a dome. In the mountains, where wood was more abundant and rain more frequent, no roofing of earth was used. In war the Patwin used bows and arrows and flint-pointed spears; no scalps were taken, but the victors are said often to have decapitated the most beautiful maiden they captured. They had a ceremony for "raising evil spirits" and dances to celebrate a good harvest of acorns or a successful catch of fish. The dead were usually buried, though cremation was practiced to some extent by some of the tribes.
Wintun (also Wintuan, Wintoon) is the name generally given to a group of related Native American tribes who lived in Northern California, including the Wintu, Nomlaki, Patwin and Southern Patwin tribes. Their range was from approximately present-day Lake Shasta to San Francisco Bay, along the western side of the Sacramento River to the Coast Range. Each of these tribes spoke one of the Wintuan languages.
Contact with Whites
The Wintu were first encountered by Euro-Americans in the 1826 expedition of Jedediah Smith, followed by an 1827 expedition led by Peter Skene Ogden. Between 1830 and 1833, many Wintus were lost to malaria in an epidemic that killed off around 75% of the indigenous population of the upper and central Sacramento Valley. In following years the weakened Wintu fell victim to the occupation strageties of incoming settlers, which include the destruction of the Wintu food supply due to sheep and cattle invasions and river pollution caused American gold miners. The Wintu were forced as laborers in gold mining operations. In 1846 John C. Frémont and Kit Carson killed 175 Wintu and Yana (McMurtry 2005). Further efforts tried to control Wintu land and relocate them to west of Clear Creek. In a "friendship feast" of poisoned food served by Whites in 1850, 100 Nomsuus and 45 Wenemem Wintus were massacred. This was followed by another massacre and destruction of Wintu land in 1851 (LaPena 1978:324).
The Yokuts or Mariposans are an ethnic group of Native Americans that live in Central California. Most Yokuts Indians reject the name Yokuts as an exonym invented by English-speaking settlers and historians, and prefer to refer to themselves by their tribal name. The Yokuts consisted of up to 60 ethnically and linguistically separate tribes pre-contact. The Yokuts lived in the San Joaquin Valley from the Delta south to Bakersfield.
Some tribes also lived along the northern edges of the Coast Range. Yokuts also inhabited the foothills of the Sierra Nevada from the Delta south to Bakersfield. Although the numbers of Foothill Yokuts were reduced by around 93% from 1850 to 1900, there are still a number of Foothill Yokuts extant today. A few Valley Yokuts remain, Tachi being the most prominent tribe. Only a few Yokuts tribes have been federally recognized. Many Yokuts Indians are not yet recognized by the U.S. government.
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) put the 1770 population of the Yokuts at 18,000. Several subsequent investigators suggested that the total should be substantially higher (Baumhoff 1963; Cook 1955; Wallace 1978). Robert F. Heizer and Albert B. Elsasser (1980:16) suggested that the Yokuts had numbered about 70,000.
Kroeber estimated the population of the Yokuts in 1910 as 600.
Kuksu, also called the Kuksu Cult, was a shamanistic religion in Northern California practiced in different degrees by many Native American people before and during contact with the arriving European settlers. The religious belief system extended in Central California and Northern California from Sacramento Valley west to the Pacific Ocean.
Kuksu included elaborate acting and dancing ceremonies in traditional costume. The men of the tribe practiced rituals to ensure good health, bountiful harvests, hunts and good weather. Ceremonies included an annual mourning ceremony, rites of passage, and shamanic intervention with the spirit world. A male secret society met in underground dance rooms and danced in disguises at the public dances.
Kuksu has been identified archaeologically by the discovery of underground dance rooms and wooden dance drums.
The Patwin culture of Northern California had comparatively strong and noticeable Kuksu systems and rituals.
The Maidu culture of Northern California had comparatively strong and noticeable Kuksu systems and rituals.
Kuksu was personalized as a spirit being by the Pomo people. Their mythology and dance ceremonies were witnessed including the spirt of Kuksu or Guksu between 1892 and 1904. The Pomo used the name Kuksu or Guksu, depending on the dialect, as the name for a red-beaked supernatural being, that lived in a sweathouse at the southern end of the world. Healing was his province and specialty. The person who played the Kuksu/Guksu in Pomo dance ceremonies was often considered the medicine man and dressed as him when attending the sick. A ceremony dance was named after him. He also appeared in costume at most ceremonies briefly in order to take away the villager's illnesses.
All males were expected to join a ceremonial society, some of their dances private or secret from women and children, with different opinions on the societies' power in the tribe: "There was no secret society of importance as there was among the Maidu and presumedly among the neighboring Wintun, and no organized priesthood vested with control over ceremonies." In contrast, in 1925 a witness of the Clear Lake Pomo said: "The heart of religious activities lay in a secret society called kuhma, akin to that of the Patwin and Maidu and comprised chiefly of men, which managed the ritual of the ancient hindil or kuksu religion.
The ethnohistorian Alfred L. Kroeber observed Kuksu existed, but had less "specialized cosmogony," in the "southern Kuksu-dancing groups" of the Ohlone/Costanoan, Salinan, Miwok and Esselen and northernmost Yokuts, in comparison to the groups in the Northern California and northern Sacramento Valley.
Miwok (also spelled Miwuk or Me-Wuk) can refer to any one of four linguistically-related groups of Native Americans, who lived in what is now Northern California, who spoke one of the Miwokan languages in the Utian family. The word Miwok means people in their native language. There are four geographically and culturally diverse ethnic subgroups of Miwok people, each with a different history and culture, as follows:
from the western slope and foothills of the Sierra Nevada, the Sacramento Valley, San Joaquin Valley and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
from present day location of Marin County and southern Sonoma . (This includes the Bodega Bay Miwok and Marin Miwok).
from Clear Lake basin of Lake County.
from present-day location of Contra Costa County.
Generally all Miwok were a hunting and gathering people who lived in small bands without centralized political authority before contact with European americans in 1769 and generally Miwok mythology and narratives were similar to other natives of Northern California. Miwok believed in animal and human spirits, and saw the animal spirits as their ancestors. Coyote was their ancestor and creator god.
In the year 1770, Alfred L. Kroeber estimated that there were 500 Lake Miwok, 1,500 Coast Miwok, and 9,000 Plains and Sierra Miwok, totaling about 11,000 people, but this may be a serious undercount, for example he did not identify the Bay Miwok.  The 1910 Census reported only 670 Miwok total, and the 1930 Census 491, see history of each Miwok group for more information.
The Ohlone people, also known as the Costanoan and as the Muwekma, are the indigenous people of Northern California who have lived in the San Francisco and Monterey Bay areas since 500 AD, spanning south into the Salinas Valley. They spoke diverse dialects of the Penutian (Utian) language and lived in over 50 distinct villages and groups. Before Spanish colonization, they did not view themselves as one unified group of people. The Ohlone once lived by hunting, fishing and gathering and their world view included shamanism. From 1769 to 1833, Spanish policies, including the California mission system, brought tremendous upheaval, hardship and decimation to the Ohlone people.
The Ohlone living today include members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area, as well as Rumsen and Mutsun Tribes, currently petitioning the federal government for tribal recognition.
The Ohlone inhabited fixed village locations, moving temporarily to gather seasonal foodstuffs like acorns and berries. The Ohlone people lived in Northern California from the northern tip of the San Francisco Peninsula in the north down to Big Sur in the south, and from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Diablo Range in the east. Their vast region included the San Francisco Peninsula, Santa Clara Valley, Santa Cruz Mountains, Monterey Bay area, as well as present-day Alameda County, Contra Costa County and Salinas Valley. Prior to Spanish contact, the Ohlone formed a complex association of approximately 50 different "nations or tribes" with about 50 to 500 members each, with an average of 200. Over 50 specific Ohlone tribes and villages have been recorded. The Ohlone villages interacted through trade, intermarriage and ceremonial events, as well as some internecine conflict. Cultural arts included basket-weaving skills, seasonal ceremonial dancing events, female tattoos, ear and nose piercings, and other ornamentation.
Replica of Ohlone Hut in the graveyard of Mission San Francisco de Asís, San Francisco.
The Ohlone subsisted mainly as hunter-gatherers, and in some ways harvesters. "A rough husbandry of the land was practiced, mainly by annually setting of fires to burn-off the old growth in order to get a better yield of seeds – or so the Ohlone told early explorers in San Mateo County." Their staple diet consisted of crushed acorns, nuts, grass seeds and berries, while other vegetation, hunted and trapped game, fish and seafood (including mussels and abalone from the San Francisco Bay and Pacific Ocean), were also important to their diet. These food sources were abundant and maintained by careful work (and spiritual respect), and through some active management of all the natural resources at hand.
Animals in their mild climate included the grizzly bear, elk (cervus elaphus), antelope and deer. The streams held salmon, perch and stickleback. Birds included plentiful ducks, geese, quail, great horned owls, red-shafted flickers, downy woodpeckers, goldfinches, and yellow-billed magpies. Waterfowl were the most important birds in the people's diet, captured with nets and decoys. The Chochenyo traditional narratives refer to ducks as food, and Juan Crespi observed in his journal that geese were stuffed and dried "to use as decoys in hunting others."
Along the ocean shore and bays, there were also otters, whales, and at one time thousands of sea lions. In fact, there were so many sea lions that to Crespi it "looked like a pavement" to the incoming Spanish.
In general, along the bayshore and valleys, the Ohlone constructed dome-shaped houses of woven or bundled mats of tule rushes, 6 to 20 feet in diameter. In hills and where Redwood trees were accessible, they built conical houses made from Redwood bark attached to a frame of wood. Redwood houses were remembered in Monterey. One of the main village buildings, the sweat lodge was low into the ground, its walls made of earth and roof of earth and brush. They built boats of tule to navigate on the bays propelled by double-bladed paddles.
Generally, men did not wear clothing in warm weather. In cold weather, they might don animal skin capes or feather capes. Women commonly wore deerskin aprons, tule rush skirts or shredded bark skirts. On cool days, they also wore animal skin capes. Both wore ornamentation of necklaces, shell beads and abalone pendants, and bone wood earrings with shells and beads. The ornamentation often indicated status within their community.
The pre-contact Ohlone world view included shamanism. They believed that spiritual doctors could heal and prevent illness, and had a "probable belief in bear shamans." Their spiritual beliefs were not recorded in detail by missionaries. However, some of the villages probably learned and practiced Kuksu, a form of shamanism shared by many tribes of Central and Northern California (although there is some question if the Ohlone people learned Kuksu from other tribes while at the missions). Kuksu included elaborate acting and dancing ceremonies in traditional costume, an annual mourning ceremony, puberty rites of passage, shamanic intervention with the spirit world and an all-male society that met in subterranean dance rooms.
Kuksu was shared with other indigenous ethnic groups of Central California, such as their neighbors the Miwok and Esselen, also Maidu, Pomo, and northernmost Yokuts. However Kroeber observed less "specialized cosmogony" in the Ohlone, which he termed one of the "southern Kuksu-dancing groups", in comparison to the Maidu and groups in the Sacramento Valley; He noted "if, as seems probable, the southerly Kuksu tribes (the Miwok, Costanoans, Esselen, and northernmost Yokuts) had no real society in connection with their Kuksu ceremonies."
The Ohlone who joined the Spanish missions were forced to convert to Catholicism (see Mission Era). The first baptisms and conversions to Catholicism were in 1777. However, Mission Era conversions to Catholicism were debatably incomplete and "external." Many returned to shamanism when the Missions Era ended.
Narratives and mythology
In Ohlone mythology and traditional legends, and folk tales, the Ohlone participated in the general cultural pattern of Central and Northern California. Specifically, Kroeber noted that they "seem also to lean in their mythology toward the Yokuts more than to the Sacramento Valley tribes."
Ohlone folklore and legend centered around the Californian culture heroes of the Coyote trickster spirit, as well as Eagle and Hummingbird (and in the Chochenyo region, a falcon-like being named Kaknu). Coyote spirit was clever, wily, lustful, greedy, and irresponsible. He often competed with Hummingbird, who despite his small size regularly got the better of him.
Ohlone mythology creation stories mention the world was covered entirely in water, apart from a single peak Pico Blanco near Big Sur (or Mount Diablo in the northern Ohlone's version) on which Coyote, Hummingbird, and Eagle stood. People were the descendants of the Coyote.
Some archeologists and linguists hypothesize that these people migrated from the San Joaquin-Sacramento River system and arrived into the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Areas about 500 AD, displacing or assimilating earlier Hokan-speaking populations of which the Esselen in the south represent a survival. Datings of ancient shell mounds in Newark and Emeryville suggest the villages at those locations were established about 4000 BC.
By shell mound dating, scholars noted three periods of ancient Bay Area history, as described by F.M. Stanger in La Peninsula: "Careful study of artifacts found in central California mounds has resulted in the discovery of three distinguishable epochs or cultural 'horizons' in their history. In terms of our time-counting system, the first or 'Early Horizon' extends from about 4000 BC to 1000 BC in the Bay Area and to about 2000 BC in the Central Valley. The second or Middle Horizon was from these dates to 700 AD, while the third or Late Horizon was from 700 AD to the coming of the Spaniards in the 1770s."
Mission Era (1769 – 1833)
The Ohlone people lived a relatively constant life until 1769, when the first Spanish soldiers and missionaries arrived from Southern California with the double-purpose of Christianizing the Native Americans by building a series of missions and of facilitating Spanish colonization. The Rumsen were the first Ohlone people to be encountered and documented in Spanish records, by Sebastian Vizcaíno who was surveying the Northern California coastline for Spain, and reached Monterey in December 1602. Spain claimed present-day California as its own, and began to build a network of religious outposts, arriving in Ohlone territory in 1769. The Franciscan mission chain was founded under the leadership and vision of Father Junípero Serra and the military control was led by Gaspar de Portolà.
This Spanish encroachment into the region disrupted and undermined the Ohlone social structures and way of life. Under Father Serra's leadership, the Spanish Franciscans erected seven missions inside the Ohlone region, and brought most of the Ohlone into these missions to live and work. In date order, the missions erected within the Ohlone region were: Mission San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo (founded in 1770), Mission San Francisco de Asís (founded in 1776), Mission Santa Clara de Asís (founded in 1777), Mission Santa Cruz (founded in 1791), Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (founded in 1791), Mission San José (founded in 1797), and Mission San Juan Bautista (founded in 1797). The Ohlone that went to live at the missions were called Mission Indians, and also neophytes. They were blended with other Native American ethnicities such as the Coast Miwok transported from the North Bay into the Mission San Francisco and Mission San José.
Spanish military presence was established at two Presidios, the Presidio of Monterey, and the Presidio of San Francisco, and mission outposts, such as San Pedro y San Pablo Asistencia founded in 1786. The Spanish soldiers traditionally escorted the Franciscans on missionary outreach daytrips but declined to camp overnight. So for the first 20 years the missions accepted a few converts at a time, slowly gaining a population. Then in November, 1794 through May, 1795 a large wave of Bay Area Native Americans were baptized and moved into Mission Santa Clara and Mission San Francisco, including 360 people to Mission Santa Clara, and the entire Huichun village populations of the East Bay to Mission San Francisco. This migration was followed almost immediately by the worst epidemic to date in March 1795 and food shortages, that resulted in alarmingly high death and runaway statistics all in the same year. When fleeing the missions, the Franciscans sent neophytes first and (as a last resort) soldiers to go round up the runaway "Christians" from their relatives, and bring them back to the missions. Thus illness spread inside and outside of the missions.
For 60 years in the missions, the Ohlone population suffered greatly due to cultural shock and disease, vulnerable to foreign diseases to which they had little resistance, in the restricted and crowded living conditions inside the mission compounds. Almost all moved to the missions. The practice of "monjeria", which was "isolating unmarried women in a separate locked room at night" was strictly enforced. In the poor and crowded conditions the women picked up illnesses, their pregnancies ended in many stillborns and infant deaths. Syphilis has been identified and it causes women who have it to miscarry fifty percent of the time, and high infant mortality rates. One of the "worst epidemic(s) of the Spanish Era in California" was known to be the measles epidemic of 1806: "One quarter of the mission Indian population of the San Francisco Bay Area died of the measles or related complications between March and May of 1806."
Land and property disputes
Under Spanish rule, there seems to be a grey area over the future of the mission properties. Property disputes arose over who owned the mission (and adjacent) lands, between the Spanish crown, the Catholic Church, the Natives and the Spanish settlers of San Jose: There were "heated debates" between "the Spanish State and ecclestiastical bureaucracies" over the government authority of the missions. Setting the precedent, an interesting petition to the Governor in 1782, the Franciscan priests claimed the "Missions Indians" owned both land and cattle, and represented the Natives in a petition against the San Jose settlers. The fathers mentioned the "Indians' crops" were being damaged by the San Jose settlers' livestock, and also mentioned settlers "getting mixed up with the livestock belonging to the Indians from the mission." They also stated the Mission Indians had property and rights to defend it: "Indians are at liberty to slaughter such (San Jose pueblo) livestock as trespass unto their lands." "By law," the mission property was to pass to the Mission Indians after a period of about ten years, when they would become Spanish citizens. In the interim period, the Franciscans were mission administrators who held the land in trust for the Natives.
In 1834, the Mexican Government ordered all Californian missions to be secularized and all mission land and property (administered by the Franciscans), turned over to the government for redistribution. At this point, the Ohlone were supposed to receive land grants and property rights, but few did and most of the mission lands went to the secular administrators. In the end, even attempts by mission leaders to restore native lands were in vain. Before this time, 73 Spanish land grants had already been deeded in all of Alta California, but with the new régime most lands were turned into Mexican-owned rancherias. The Ohlone became the laborers and vaqueros (cowboys) of Mexican-owned rancherias.
The Ohlone eventually regathered in multi-ethnic rancherias, along with other Mission Indians such as the Coast Miwok, and northwest Yokuts and Patwin. Many of the remaining Ohlone went to work at Alisal Rancheria in Pleasanton, and El Molino in Niles. Communities also formed in Sunol, Monterey and San Juan Bautista. In the 1840s a wave of U.S. settlers encroached into the area and California became annexed to the United States. The new settlers brought in new diseases to the Ohlone.
In summary, the Ohlone lost the vast majority of their population between 1780 and 1850, due to an abysmal birth rate, high infant mortality rate, diseases and social upheaval associated with European immigration into California. By all estimates, the Ohlone were decimated to less than ten percent of their original pre-mission era population. By 1852 the Ohlone population had diminished down to about 864-1000 and continued to decline. By the early 1880s, the northern Ohlone were virtually extinct and the southern Ohlone people severely impacted and largely displaced from their communal land grant in the Carmel Valley. T
Costanoan is an externally applied name (exonym). The Spanish explorers and settlers referred to the native groups of this region collectively as the Costeños (the "coastal people") circa 1769. Over time, the English-speaking settlers arriving later Anglicized the word Costeños into the name of Costanoans. (The suffix "-an" is English). For many years, the people were called the Costanoans in English language and records.
The Salinan Native Americans lived in what is now the Central Coast of California, in the Salinas Valley. Said to have gone extinct by the Census of 1930, the Salinan Native Americans survived and are now in the process of applying for tribal recognition from the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
There were two major divisions, the San Miguel in the south, on the upper course of the Salinas River (which flows south to north), and the San Antonio in the north, in the lower part of the Salinas Basin. There were also a Playano group which lived on the Pacific Coast in the vicinity of what is now San Simeon and Lucia.
This corresponded to the two missions in the Salinas Valley.
The Salinans lived by hunting and gathering and were organized in small groups with little centralized political structure.
The Salinan people were named after the Salinas River by Robert Latham (1856) and John Powell (1891). The people's own name for themselves was never recorded. C. Hart Merriam called these people the En-'ne-sen on advice from one informant En-'ne-sen was the native word for the Salinan headquarters (Hester 1978:504).
The Salinan language is a language isolate. It may be a part of the hypothetical Hokan stock. Sapir (1925) included it in a subfamily of Hokan, along with Chumash and Seri; this classification has found its way into more recent encyclopedias and presentations of language families, but serious supporting evidence has never been presented.
The Chumash are a Native American tribe who historically inhabit mainly the southern coastal regions of California, in the vicinity of what is now San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura and Los Angeles counties, extending from Morro Bay in the north to Malibu in the south. They also occupied three of the Channel Islands Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa and San Miguel; the smaller island of Anacapa was unihabited. Modern place names with Chumash origins include Malibu, Lompoc, Ojai, Point Mugu, Piru, Lake Castaic, and Simi Valley.
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) thought that the 1770 population of the Chumash might have been about 10,000. Alan K. Brown concluded that the population was not over 15,000. Sherburne F. Cook (1976a, 1976b) at various times estimated the aboriginal Chumash as 8,000, 13,650, 20,400, and 18,500.
By 1900, their numbers had declined to just 200. According to some reports, there are now some 5,000 people who identify themselves as Chumash.
The Chumash were hunter-gatherers and were adept at fishing. They are one of the relatively few New World peoples who regularly navigated the ocean (the other was the Tongva, a neighboring tribe located to the South). Some settlements built plank boats called tomols, which facilitated the distribution of goods, and could even be used for whaling. Remains of a developed Chumash culture, including rock paintings (petroglyphs) apparently depicting the Chumash cosmology, can still be seen.
In order to advance spiritually within the tribe, boys of eight years of age were ritually given a drink of datura called momoy.
Anthropologists eagerly sought Chumash baskets as prime examples of the craft, and two of the finest collections are at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC and the Musée de l’Homme (Museum of Mankind) in Paris, France. The Museum of Natural History at Santa Barbara is believed to have the largest collection of Chumash baskets.
The Tongva are a Native American people who inhabited the area in and around Los Angeles, California before the arrival of Europeans. Tongva means "people of the earth" in the Tongva language, a language in the Uto-Aztecan family. The Tongva are also sometimes referred to as the Gabrieleño/Tongva (often written "Gabrieleno/Tongva") or Gabrielino/Tongva tribe. Following the Spanish custom of naming local tribes after nearby missions, they were called the Gabrieleño, Gabrielino, or San Gabrieleño in reference to Mission San Gabriel Arcangel. Likewise, the nearby Tataviam people were known as "Fernandeño" after Mission San Fernando Rey de España.
Along with the Chumash, their neighbors to the north, the Tongva are among the few New World peoples who regularly navigated the ocean. They built seaworthy canoes, called ti'at, using planks that were sewn together, edge to edge, and then caulked and coated with either pine pitch, or, more commonly, the tar that was available either from the La Brea Tar Pits, or as asphaltum that had washed up on shore from offshore oil seeps. These titi'at could hold as many as 12 people and all their gear and all the trade goods they were carrying to trade with other people, either along the coast or on one of the Channel Islands. The Tongva canoed out to greet Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo when he arrived off the shores of San Pedro in 1542.
Modern place-names with Tongva origins include: Pacoima, Tujunga, Topanga, Rancho Cucamonga, Azusa, and Cahuenga Pass.
Esselen Indian Tribal History
Esselen, A tribe of Californian Indians, constituting the Esselenian family, most of the members of which on the founding of Carmelo mission, near Monterey, in 1770, were brought under civilizing influences, resulting, as was the case with the Indians at all the Californian missions, their rapid decrease (see California Mission Indian Missions). A portion of the tribe seems to have been taken, to the mission at Soledad, for Arroyo de la Cuesta (MS., B. A. E.) in 1821 says of an Esselen vocabulary obtained by himself, "Huelel language of Soledad; it is from the Esselenes, who are already few." The original territory of the Esselen lay along the coast south of Monterey, though its exact limits are diversely given. Henshaw (Esselen MS., B. A. E.) states that they lived on the coast south of Monterey, in the mountains. The Rumsen Indians of the present day at Carmel and Monterey state ( Kroeber, MS., Univ. Cal.) that the Esselen originally lived at Agua Caliente (Tassajara springs), which is near the head of Carmel river, in a line between Sur and Soledad. Powell's map (7th Rep. B. A. E.) makes the Esselen territory comprise Sur river, the head of Carmel river, and the country about as far south as Santa Lucia peak, which is probably approximately correct. In any case the Esselen territory was confined to a limited was bordered only by Salinan and Costanoan tribes. La Perouse's statement that it extended more than 20 leagues east of Monterey is incorrect. Almost nothing is known of the mode of life and practices of the Esselen, but they were certainly similar to those of the neighboring tribes. What little is known in regard to the Esselen language shows it to have been simple and regular and of a type similar to most of the languages of central California, but, notwithstanding a few words In common with Costanoan, of entirely unrelated vocabulary and therefore a distinct stock.
The most westerly subdivision of the Ute-Chemehuevi linguistic division of the Shoshonean family. They occupy an isolated area on both sides of the Tehachapi mountains, California, but particularly the west side around Piaute mountains and the valleys of Walker basin in Caliente and Kelso Creeks as far south as Tehachapi.
Serrano Indian Tribe History
Serrano (Spanish: 'highlanders', 'monntaineer-' ). A Shoshonean division with a common dialect, centering in the San Bernardino mountains, southern California, north of Los Angeles, but extending down Mohave river at least to Daggett and north across the Mohave desert into the valley of Tejon creek. They also occupied San Bernardino valley. Fray Francisco Garcés. in 1775-76, described the Serranos near Tejon creek, under the name Cuahajai or Cuabajay (their Mohave name), as living in large square communal houses of toile mats on a framework of willow, each family having its own fireplace; they made small baskets, flint knives, and vessels inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and conducted much trade with the natives of the coast near Santa Barbara. One of their rancherias Garcés named San Pascual. The Serranos on the upper waters of Santa Ana river. He called also by their Mohave name, Jenequich (Hanakwiche). In his time these were approachable "and of middling good heart; they are of medium stature, and the women some what smaller, round-faced, flat-nosed, and rather ugly; their custom in gentiledoin is for the men to go entirely naked, and the women wear some sort of deerskin, with which they cover themselves, and also some small coat of otter or of hare." The same friar visited the Serranos of Mohave river, whom he designated Beñemé (from Vanyume, the Mohave name of this branch). These were very poor, but possessed baskets, otter and rabbit coats, and some very curious snares which they made of wild hemp. They subsisted on wild game and acorns. "As a rule they are very effeminate, and the women uncleanly, but all are very quiet and inoffensive." The Serrarios formed part of the Indians brought under San Gabriel and San Fernando missions. So far as recorded the villages or rancherias of the Serranos were: Homhoabit, Jurumpa, Juyubit, Muscupiabit, San Benito, San Gorgonio, San Pascual, Tolocabi, and Yucaipa. In 1885 there were 390 Serrarios attached to the Mission agency, but they are no longer separately enumerated.
Luiseno Indian Tribe History
Luiseño. The southernmost Shoshonean division in California, which received its name from San Luis Rey, the most important Spanish mission in the territory of these people. They form one linguistic group with the Aguas Calientes, Juaneños, and Kawia. They extended along the coast from between San Onofre and Las Animas creeks, far enough south to include Aguas Hedionda, San Marcos, Escondido, and Valley Center. Inland they extended north beyond San Jacinto river, and into Temescal creek; but they were cut off from the San Jacinto divide by the Diegueños, Aguas Calientes, Kawia, and Serranos. The former inhabitants of San Clemente island also are said to have been Luiseños, and the same was possibly the case with those of San Nicolas island. Their population was given in 1856 (Ind. Aff. Rep., 243) as between 2,500 and 2,800; in 1870, as 1,299; in 1885, as 1,142.
Kitanemuk. Perhaps from the stem ki, "house,"; other synonyms are Kikitanum, and Kikitamkar.
Connections. The Kitanemuk belonged to the Shoshonean division of the Uto-Aztecan linguistic stock and to a subgroup which included also the Alliklik, Vanyume and Serrano.
Location. On upper Tejon and Paso Creeks, the streams on the rear side of the Tehachapi Mountains in the same vicinity and the small creeks draining the northern slope of the Liebre and Sawmill Range, with Antelope Valley and the westernmost end of the Mohave Desert.
Villages. The present principal Kitanemuk village is called Nakwalki-ve, and is situated where Tejon Creek breaks out of the hills. (Other names given do not seem unquestionably those of villages).
Population. Kroeber (1925) estimates that in 1770 there were 3,500 Serrano, Vanyume, Kitanemuk, and Alliklik, and that these were represented by about 150 in 1910
A name perhaps of Spanish origin, but its significance is unknown. Also spelled Kawia.
Connections. The Cahuilla belonged to the southern California group of the Shoshonean division of the Uto-Aztecan stock.
Location. Mainly in the inland basin between the San Bernardino Range and the range extending southward from Mount San Jacinto.
('pine-nut eaters,' Merriam).
A small tribe which formerly inhabited the valley of Kern river, south California above the falls extending probably to the river's source, but centering especially about the junction of the main and south forks. With the Bankalachi they constitute one of the four principal coordinate branches of the Shoshonean family.
Paiute (sometimes written Piute) refers to two related groups of Native Americans — the Northern Paiute of California, Nevada and Oregon, and the Southern Paiute of Arizona, southeastern California, and Nevada, and Utah, who spoke languages belonging to the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan family of Native American languages. The use of the name "Paiute" for these peoples is misleading. The Northern Paiute are more closely related to the Shoshone than to the Southern Paiute; the Southern Paiute are more closely related to the Ute than to the Northern Paiute. Usage of the terms Paiute, Northern Paiute and Southern Paiute is most correct when referring to groups of people with similar language and culture, and should not be taken to imply a political connection or even an especially close genetic relationship.
The origin of the word Paiute is unclear. Some anthropologists have interpreted it as "Water Ute" or "True Ute." The Northern Paiute call themselves Numa (sometimes written Numu); the Southern Paiute call themselves Nuwuvi. Both terms mean "the people." Early Spanish explorers called the Southern Paiute "Payuchi" (they did not make contact with the Northern Paiute). Early Euro-American settlers often called both groups of Paiute "Diggers" (presumably due to their practice of digging for roots), although that term is now considered derogatory. The Northern Paiute are sometimes referred to as "Paviotso."
Captain John, Leader of the Yosemite-Mono Lake Paiutes
The Bannock, Mono, Panamint and Kawaiisu people, who also speak Numic languages and live in adjacent areas, are sometimes referred to as Paiute.
The Northern Paiute speak the Northern Paiute language, while the Southern Paiute speak the Ute-Southern Paiute language. These languages are not as closely related to each other as they are to other Numic languages.
The Northern Paiute traditionally lived in the Great Basin in eastern California, western Nevada, and southeast Oregon. The Northern Paiute's pre-contact lifestyle was well adapted to the harsh desert environment in which they lived. Each tribe or band occupied a specific territory, generally centered on a lake or wetland that supplied fish and water-fowl. Rabbits and pronghorn were taken from surrounding areas in communal drives, which often involved neighboring bands. Individuals and families appear to have moved freely between bands. Pinyon nuts gathered in the mountains in the fall provided critical winter food. Grass seeds and roots were also important parts of their diet. The name of each band came from a characteristic food source. For example, the people at Pyramid Lake were known as the Cui Ui Ticutta (meaning "Cui-ui eaters"), the people of the Lovelock area were known as the Koop Ticutta (meaning "ground-squirrel eaters") and the people of the Carson Sink were known as the Toi Ticutta (meaning "tule eaters").
Relations among the Northern Paiute bands and their Shoshone neighbors were generally peaceful. In fact the distinction between the Northern Paiute and Western Shoshone is not sharp. Relations with the Washoe people, who were culturally and linguistically very different, were not so peaceful.
Sustained contact between the Northern Paiute and Euro-Americans came in the early 1840s, although the first contact may have occurred as early as the 1820s. Although they had already started using horses, their culture was otherwise largely unaffected by European influences at that point. As Euro-American settlement of the area progressed, several violent incidents occurred, including the Pyramid Lake War of 1860 and the Bannock War of 1878. These incidents took the general pattern of a settler steals from, rapes or murders a Paiute, a group of Paiutes retaliate, and a group of settlers or the US Army counter-retaliates. Many more Paiutes died from introduced diseases such as small pox. Sarah Winnemucca's book "Life Among the Piutes" gives a first-hand account of this period, although it is not considered to be wholly reliable.
The first reservation established for the Northern Paiute was the Malheur Reservation in Oregon. The federal government's intention was to concentrate the Northern Paiute there, but its strategy didn't work. Due to the distance of that reservation from the traditional areas of most of the bands, and due to the poor conditions on that reservation, many Northern Paiute refused to go there and those that did soon left. Instead they clung to the traditional lifestyle as long as possible, and when environmental degradation made that impossible, they sought jobs on white farms, ranches or cities and established small Indian colonies, where they were joined by many Shoshone and, in the Reno area, Washoe people. Later, large reservations were created at Pyramid Lake and Duck Valley, but by that time the pattern of small de facto reservations near cities or farm districts often with mixed Northern Paiute and Shoshone populations had been established. Starting in the early 1900s the federal government began granting land to these colonies, and under the Indian Reorganization Act of 1934 these colonies gained
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) thought that the 1770 population of the Northern Paiute within California was 500. Catherine S. Fowler and Sven Liljeblad (1978:457) put the total Northern Paiute population in 1859 at about 6,000.
Kroeber estimated the population of the Northern Paiute in California in 1910 as 300.
The Southern Paiute traditionally lived in the Colorado River basin and Mojave Desert in northern Arizona, southeastern California, southern Nevada, and southern Utah. The Utah Paiutes were terminated in 1954 and regained federal recognition in 1980. A band of Southern Paiutes at Willow Springs and Navajo Mountain, south of the Grand Canyon, reside inside the Navajo Indian Reservation. These "San Juan" Paiutes were recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs in 1980.
First European contact with the Southern Paiutes occurred in 1776 when Fathers Silvestre Vélez de Escalante and Francisco Atanasio Domínguez chanced upon them during their failed attempt to find an overland route to the missions of California. Even before this date, the Southern Paiute suffered from slave raids by the Navajo and the Utes, but the introduction of Spanish and later Euroamerican explorers into their territory exacerbated the practice. In 1851, Mormon settlers strategically occupied Paiute water sources, which created a dependency relationship. However, the Mormon presence soon ended the slave raids, and relations between the Paiutes and the Mormons were basically peaceful. This was in large part due to the diplomacy efforts of Mormon missionary Jacob Hamblin. But there is no doubt that the introduction of European settlers and agricultural practices (most especially large herds of cattle) made it difficult for the Southern Paiutes to continue their traditional lifestyle.
Southern Paiute communities are located at Las Vegas, Pahrump, and Moapa, in Nevada; Cedar City, Kanosh, Koosharem, Shivwits, and Indian Peaks, in Utah; at Kaibab and Willow Springs, in Arizona; Death Valley and at Chemehuevi on the Colorado River Indian Reservation in California. Some would include the 29 Palms Reservation in Riverside County, California.
Pah Ute War
The Pah Ute War, also known as the Paiute War, was a minor series of raids and ambushes initiated by the Native American tribe, the Paiute, that had an effect on the development of the Pony Express. It took place from May through June of 1860, though sporadic violence continued.
Chemehuevi Indian Tribe History
A Shoshonean tribe, apparently an offshoot of the Paiute, formerly inhabiting the east bank of the Rio Colorado from Bill Williams fork to the Needles and extending westward as far as Providence Mountains, California, their chief seat being Chemehuevi valley, which stretches for 5 miles along the Colorado and nearly as far on either side. When or how they acquired possession of what appears to have been Yuman territory is not known. They may possibly have been seen by Alarcon, who navigated the Rio Colorado in 1540; but if so, they are not mentioned by name. Probably the first reference to the Chemehuevi is by Fray Francisco Garcés, who passed through their country in journeying from the Yuma to the Mohave, and again from lower Kern River to the latter tribe on his way to the pueblo of Oraibi in north east Arizona in 1775-76. Among the Indians whom Garcés saw, or of whom heard, are the Chelemegué, Chemegué, Cuajála, Chemegué, Sevinta, and Chemeguaba, the first and last mentioned being apparently the Chemehuevi, while the others are the Virgin River Paiute and Shivwits, respectively, "Chemegué" here being used somewhat in the sense of denoting Shoshonean affinity. In passing down the Colorado from the Mohave rancherias Garcés does not mention any Chemehuevi or other Indians in Chemehuevi valley or elsewhere on the river until the Yuman Alchedoma ("Jalchedunes"), some distance below, were reached. He found the Chemehuevi in the desert immediately south west ,west and north west of the Mohave. The same observer remarks that they wore Apache moccasins, antelope-skin shirts, and a white headdress like a cap, ornamented with the crest feathers of a bird, probably the roadrunner. They were very swift of foot, were friends' of the Ute (Paiute?), Yavapai Tejua, and Mohave, and when the latter "break their weapons" (keep the peace), so do they also. It is said that they occupied at this time the country between the Beñeme (Panamint and Serrano) and the Colorado "on the north side" as far as the Ute, and extending to another river, north of the Colorado, they had their fields. They made baskets, and those whom Garcés, saw "all carried a crook besides their weapons," which was used for pulling gophers, rabbits, etc., from their burrows. Their language was noted as distinct from that of the other Rio Colorado tribes, as in fact it is, these being Yuman (see Garcés Diary, Coues ed., op.cit., 1900; Heintzelman (1853) in H. R. Ex. Doc. 76, 34th Cong., 3d sess., 1857; Pacific R. R. Rep., III, pt. 3, 1856). Physically the Chemehuevi appear to have been inferior to theYuma and Mohave. Ives properly credits them with being a wandering people, traveling "great distances on hunting and predatory excursions," and although they did live mainly on the natural products of the desert, they farmed on a small scale where possible. Like the other Colorado River tribes, they had no canoes, but used rafts made of bundles of reeds. Their number was estimated by Leroux about 1853 at 1,500, probably an excessive estimate for the whole tribe; in 1866 Thomas estimated their population at 750. In 1903 there were 300 on the Colorado River reservation and probably a definite few under the Moapa agency. It is also that likely that a few are not under any agent but roam as Paiute. Of the organization of the Chemehuevi nothing positive is known.
Mohave Indian Tribe History
Mohave (from hamok 'three', avi ‘mountain'). The most populous and war like of the Yuman tribes. Since known to history they appear to have lived on both sides of the Rio Colorado, though chiefly on the east side, between the Needles (whence their name is derived) and the entrance to Black canyon. Ives, in 1857, found only a few scattered families in Cottonwood valley, the bulk of their number being below Hardyville. In recent times a body of Chemehuevi have held the river between them and their kinsmen the Yuma. The Mohave are strong, athletic, and well developed, their women attractive; in fact, Ives characterized them as fine a people physically as any he had ever seen. They are famed for the artistic painting of their bodies. Tattooing was universal, but confined to small areas on the skin. According to Kroeber (Am. Anthrop., Iv, 284, 1902) their art in recent times consists chiefly of crude painted de, orations on their pottery.
Though a river tribe, the Mohave made no canoes, but when necessary had recourse to rafts, or balsas, made of bundles of reeds. They had no large settlements, their dwellings being scattered. These were four-sided and low, with four supporting posts at the center. The walls, which were only 2 or 3 feet high, and the almost flat roof were formed of brush covered with sand. Their granaries were upright cylindrical structures with flat roofs. The Mohave hunted but little, their chief reliance for food being on the cultivated products of the soil, as corn, pumpkins, melons, beans, and a small amount of wheat, to which they added mesquite beans, mescrew, piñon nuts, and fish to a limited extent. They did not practice irrigation, but relied on the inundation of the bottom lands to supply the needed moisture, hence when there was no over-flow their crops failed. Articles of skin and bone were very little used, materials such as the inner bark of the willow, vegetable fiber, etc., taking their place. Pottery was manufactured. Baskets were in common use, but were obtained from other tribes.
According to Kroeber, "there is no full gentile system, but something closely akin to it, which may be called either an incipient or a decadent clan system. Certam men, and all their ancestors and descendants in the male line, have only one name for all their female relatives: Thus, if the female name hereditary in my family be Maha, my father's sister, my own sisters, my daughters (no matter how great their number), and my son's daughters, will all be called Maha. There are about twenty such women's names, or virtual gentes, among the Mohave. None of these names seems to have any signification. But according to the myths of the tribe, certain numbers of men originally had, or were given, such names as Sun, Moon, Tobacco, Fire, Cloud, Coyote, Deer, Wind, Beaver, Owl, and others, which correspond exactly to totemic clan names; then these men were instructed by Mastamho, the chief mythological being, to call all their daughters and female descendants in the male line by certain names, corresponding to these clan names. Thus the male ancestors of all the women who at present bear the name Hipa, are believed to have been originally named Coyote. It is also said that all those with one name formerly lived in one area, and were all considered related. This, however, is not the case now, nor does it seem to have been so within recent historic times." Bourke (Jour. Am. Folklore, ii, 181, 1889) has recorded some of these names, called by him gentes, and the totemic name to which each corresponds, as follows: Hualga (Moon), O-cha (Rain-cloud), Ma-ha (Caterpillar), Nol-cha (Sun), Hipa (Coyote) Va-had-ha (Tobacco), shul-ya (Beaver), Kot-ta (Mescal or Tobacco), Ti-hil-ya (Mescal), Vi-ma-ga (a green plant, not identified), Ku-mad-ha (Ocatilla or Iron Cactus) ,Ma-li-ka (unknown), Mus (Mesquite), Ma-si-pa (Coyote).
The tribal organization was loose, though, as a whole, the Mohave remained quite distinct from other tribes. The chieftainship was hereditary in the male line. Their dead were cremated. The population of the tribe in 1775-76 was conservatively estimated by Garcés (Diary, 443, 1900) at 3,000, and by Leroux, about 1834 (Whipple, Pac. R. R. Rep., iii,1856), to be 4,000; but the latter is probably an overestimate. Their number in 1905 was officially given as 1,589, of whom 508 were under the Colorado River school superintendent, 856 under the Ft Mohave school superintendent, 50 under the San Carlos agency, and about 175 at Camp McDowell, on the Rio Verde. Those at the latter two points, however, are apparently Yavapai, commonly known as Apache Mohave.
No treaty was made with the Mohave respecting their original territory, the United States assuming title thereto. By act of Mar. 3, 1865, supplemented by Executive orders of Nov. 22, 1873, Nov. 16, 1874, and May 15, 1876, the present Colorado River Reservation, Arizona, occupied by Mohave, Chemehuevi, and Kawia, was established.
Clans, Great Chiefs, Dreams, and The Center Of Existence
The land of the Mojave, the most northern of the Yuman tribes, stretched from Black Canyon to the Picacho Mountains below today’s Parker Dam, straddling the Colorado River.
In the 16th Century, the time the Spanish arrived in the territory, the Mojaves were the largest concentration of people in the Southwest. The people who made up the Mojave Tribe lived in three groups - the northern Matha lyathum lived from Black Canyon to the Mojave Valley; the central Hutto-pah inhabited the central Mojave Valley; the territory of the southern Kavi lyathum extended from the Mojave Valley to below Needles Peaks.
The Mojaves live within a clan system that was given to them in First Time by Mastamho. They were named for things above the Earth - the sun, clouds and birds: and for things of the Earth and below the Earth. Mastamho gave the Mojaves 22 patrilinear clans (today that number is reduced to 18), and the children took the name of their father’s clan, though only women used the clan name.
A hereditary chief, called the aha macav pina ta’ahon, along with leaders from the three regional groups of the Mojave, governed the people, but only with their continued support and approval.
The Mojaves were a people of dreams and visions. The dreams, su’mach, were viewed as the source of knowledge. Through them the dreamer could return to the time of creation where the origin of all things would be revealed. Great dreams and visions were related to the tribe as Great Tellings and Sings. They shared the history and legends of the people, deeds of bravery and war, magic and heroes.
And through sumach a’hot, a person was given a gift to do one thing better than others, or called upon to receive a gift of knowledge to know how to cure or treat a special kind of illness. A person called to receive such a gift had to go through much fasting and other trials, sometimes not passing the test and remaining like ordinary people. For those who passed such a test, the Mojaves say of them, "sumach a’hot," they are gifted.
For the Aha Macav, the river was the center of existence. They practiced a dry farming method, relying on the regular overflow of the Colorado River to irrigate crops planted along the banks. Preparation was painstaking; trees were felled, brush cleared. After planting, there was constant weeding and watching for pests. They supplemented this with wild seeds and roots, especially mesquite beans, game and fish taken from the river with traps and nets.
Connections. The Halchidhoma belonged to the Yuman branch of the Hokan linguistic stock and are said to have spoken the same language as the Yuma tribe and to have been closely connected also with the Maricopa.
Location. At various points on the Colorado River near the mouth of the Gila. (See also California.)
History. The Halchidhoma were probably encountered by Alarcon in 1540, though he does not mention them. In 1604—5 Orate found them occupying eight villages on the Colorado below the mouth of the Gila; Father Eusebio Kino in 1701—2 came upon them above the Gila, and by Garces' time (1776) their villages were scattered on both sides of the Colorado, beginning about 38 miles below Bill Williams' Fork and extending the same distance downstream. Later they moved farther north, along with the Kohuana, but were soon forced downstream again by the Mohave and ultimately took refuge with the Maricopa on Gila River, by whom they were ultimately absorbed.
Population. Mooney (1928) estimates 3,000 in 1680, but this is evidently based on Garces' figure of 2,500 in 1776, which Kroeber (1920) believes much too high. Kroeber suggests about 1,000 as of the year 1770.
History of the San Diego area
Hunting peoples of northeast Asia follow herds of Caribou, bison, and mammoth across the present day Bering Strait, which at several points in this period is a grassy plain a thousand miles broad. They then move south along ice-free corridors into the American continents. Anthropologists believe that humans first settled in the San Diego area as early as 20,000 years ago along the coast and 12,000 years ago in the desert.
12000 BC to 7000 BC
Original inhabitants of the San Diego area are now known as the San Dieguito people. The earliest cultural group, dated at about 7500 B.C., is referred to as the San Dieguito Paleo-Indian, which researcher Malcolm Rogers described in 1929 as a "scraper-maker culture." The Rogers site is above the San Dieguito River east of Rancho Santa Fe.
7000 BC to 1000 BC
La Jollan people assimilate the original San Dieguito people (or evolve from them). Today's La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club is neighbor to a major archeological site from this period.
1000 BC to 1000 AD
Yuman-speaking peoples intrude and assimilate La Jollan cultural group. Diegueños, the Indians nearest the San Diego Mission and most of the central San Diego area, are of Yuman stock, as are the Kamia and Yuma tribes to the east. Indians gather acorns and grind them into flour, from which they make a healthy mush. Archaeologists have found evidence of ceramics, cremations, pictographs, stone tools, clay-lined hearths and elaborate stone walls, some built for defense and others for irrigation.
1000 AD to 1600 AD
Yuman and Shoshonean groups migrate to northern San Diego area. Shoshoneans occupy almost a third of California. In the northern San Diego area Shoshoneans comprise the Luiseño in North County, Cahuilla in the far northeast, east of Mount Palomar; Cupeño in a small region around Warner's Springs; Ipai or Northern Diegueño, from the San Dieguito River Valley to Mission Valley; and the Ipai or Kumeyaay from Mission Valley to Ensenada. The eastern limit is approximately around the Salton Sea and Salt Hills in Imperial County and, in Mexico, the Cocopa Mountains.
A collective name, probably in part synonymous with Comeya, applied by the Spaniards to Indians of the Yuman stock who formerly lived in and around San Diego, in California, whence the term; it included representatives of many tribes and has no proper ethic significance; never the less it is a firmly established name and is there accepted to include the tribes formerly living about San Diego and extending south to about lat 31º 30. a few Degueños still live in the neighborhood of San Diego, There are about 400 Indians included under this name attached to the Mission agency of California, but they are now officially recognized as part of the "Mission Indians."
Key (Note: some designations have changed since Kroeber's 1925 compilation)
1a. Rogue River
1h. Shelter Cove Sinkyone
1i. Lolangkok Sinkyone
1j. Eel River Wailaki
1k. Pitch Wailaki
1l. North Fork Wailaki
Bear River Group
1n. Bear River
2b. Coast Yurok
4c. Coast Yuki
6b. New River Shasta
6e. Achomawi (Pit River)
6f. Atsugewi (Hat Creek)
7a. Northern Yana
7b. Central Yana
7c. Southern Yana
13c. Playano (doubtful)
15a. Northern (Western)
15b. Mountain Diegueño
15c. Southern (Eastern or
15f. Halchidhoma & Kohuana
16a. Northern (Wintu)
16b. Central (Nomlaki)
16c. Hill (Patwin)
16d. River (Patwin)
17c. Southern (Nisenan)
18c. Bay (Saclan)
18e. Northern Sierra
18f. Central Sierra
18g. Southern Sierra
19a. San Pablo (Karkin)
19b. San Francisco
19c. Santa Clara
19d. Santa Cruz
19e. San Juan Bautista (Mutsun)
19f. Rumsen (Monterey)
20a. Northern Valley (Chulamni,
20b. Southern Valley (Tachi,
20c. Northern Hill (Chukchansi,
20d. Kings River (Chionimni, etc.)
20e. Tule-Kaweah (Yaudanchi, etc.)
20f. Poso Creek (Paleuyamni)
20g. Buena Vista (Tulamni, etc.)
Uto-Aztekan (Shoshonean) Family
21a. Northern Paiute (Paviotso)
21b. Owens Valley Paiute
21c. Mono Lake Paiute
21d. Monache (Western Mono)
21e. Panamint Shoshone (Koso)
21f, Chemehuevi (Southern Paiute)
21g. Kawaiisu (Tecachapi)
Kern River Branch
21h. Tübatulabal (& Bankalachi)
Southern California Branch
21i. Kitanemuk (Tajon)
21k. Möhineyam (Vanyume)
21s. Pass Cahuilla
21t. Mountain Cahuilla
21u. Desert Cahuilla