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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Indian Fishing Contrivances / A Female Crusoe


Fish have long been recognized as having once comprised a particularly critical resource for native groups in many areas of California, and the various techniques employed in their extraction —whether from the ocean, rivers and streams, or lakes—were often both sophisticated and effective. The first account presented here (perhaps half of which is from previously published sources) provides a wealth of significant data, both old and new, on the construction and use of fish weirs in catching salmon in some of the state's major rivers. Parenthetically, it should be noted that the weirs described by Ringgold and Bidwell on the Sacramento River were entirely different structures, and were actually separated by some miles. The author and compiler, David R. Leeper, came to California during the gold rush, and later recounted his adventures and observations in The Argonauts of ‘Forty- Nine (1894). The article reprinted here was originally published in The American Archaeologist [Volume 2, Part 9, Sept 1898, pp. 227-230.] Leeper also contributed a number of other short articles on California Indians to The American Archaeologist and its predecessor The Antiquarian. The second account adds some additional historical context to the familiar story of the Lone Woman of San Nicholas, and makes it clear that her presence on the island and some details of her life there were well known years before her 'recovery' by George Nidever in 1853. It originally appeared in Boston's Daily Atlas on March 27, 1847.1am indebted to Steven Schwartz of the Point Mugu Naval Air Station Environmental Division for bringing this to my attention.

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