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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Aboriginal Exploitation of Pandora Moth Larvae in East-Central California


This paper examines one insect, the Pandora moth (Coloradia pandora lindseyi Barnes and Benjamin), and its role in the native subsistence systems of east-central California. Exploitation of Pandora moth larvae by the Mono Lake and Owens Valley Paiute has been the focus of varied attention in the literature for over seven decades. By and large, however, these accounts were not based on firsthand observation, and thus there has developed a corpus of misleading, often conflicting, information. The first part of this paper presents a critical evaluation of these discrepancies using both published and unpublished ethnographic, entomological, and archaeological data. Subsequent sections assess the importance of this resource relative to both short- and long-term regional subsistence strategies.

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