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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The five volumes of The Journal of California Anthropology published theoretical and substantive materials dealing with ethnology, archaeology, ethnohistory, languages, and arts of the native peoples of Alta and Baja California. The Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology supercedes The Journal of California Anthropology with an expanded emphasis on Great Basin anthropology.

Issue cover


Gathering Grass Seed

Nineteenth-century steel engraving


The Pomo Kin Group and the Political Unit in Aboriginal California

This paper presents some conclusions I have come to concerning the nature of political organization among the tribes of northern California. I concern myself mainly with the nature of the basic political units, ambilateral residential kin groups. However, these units were involved in several kinds of more complex social, political, and religious systems, which reflected rather favorable ecological conditions and what may seem to be very "exceptional" demographic conditions. Most of these systems were characteristic of "tribelets" which were semi-sedentary, rather than nomadic; organized at the levels of tribes or chiefdoms, rather than just at the "band level"; and which had population densities well above the one per square mile figure so often cited as the upper limit for hunting-gathering populations.

Some Observations on Chumash Prehistoric Stone Effigies

Among the many items of material culture representative of the prehistoric cultures of coastal southern California, stone effigies have generated the greatest interest as objets d'art among both anthropologists and art collectors. These artifacts generally lack provenance data, and this has led to ambiguous functional interpretations (Greenwood 1962, 1965, 1967; Eisenbud 1964). Such objects are traditionally placed in the nebulous category of "ceremonial objects." The questionable authenticity of many specimens provides an additional complication to objective analysis. There has long been a need for a detailed description and comparison of all known specimens, many of which are now widely scattered throughout Europe and North America. Robert Wharton of the Lowie Museum of Anthropology, University of California, Berkeley, and I have initiated such a project. As a preliminary step in this research I wish to present here some general observations that I have made or which are illustrated elsewhere in the literature on effigies from coastal southern California.

Cultural Diversity In Early Central California: A View from the North Coast Ranges

This paper focuses on the spatial and temporal relationships between the culture types which existed during the span encompassed by the Early and Middle Horizons in the Central California area within the regions of the lower Sacramento Valley, San Francisco Bay, and the North Coast Ranges. It seems clear that a simple unilineal sequence of culture types does not provide an adequate model for understanding the changes which appear to have taken place within this area during this time period and that the transition from one culture type to another did not take place uniformly throughout the area, but rather took place in different regions at different times. Thus, the absolute dating of transitions from one culture type to another must be determined independently for each region. It is recommended that an understanding of the changes which occurred in each region be sought through examination of both technoenvironmental and sociohistorical factors. The relationships proposed here are based upon published and unpublished data from the North Coast Ranges, as well as similar data from San Francisco Bay and the lower Sacramento Valley.

Agricultural Motifs In Southem California Indian Mythology

The purpose of this paper is to examine the implications of crop plants in the Cahuilla creation myth through a comparative study of agricultural motifs and elements which may be found elsewhere in Cahuilla mythology or in the myths of other California Indian groups. A number of assumptions will be made and several hypotheses will be tested. Before proceeding to these hypotheses, however, I should like to make several comments about the Cahuilla creation myth and problems which are posed by Mukat's last gift to his people—crop plants.

Achumawi Sketches

Jaime de Angulo (1886-1950) contributed a number of important early papers to the field of California ethnology. At the urging of two close friends, Franz Boas and Paul Radin, de Angulo formally began his academic career in northern California in the mid-twenties. As de Angulo had already met a number of Achumawi (Pit River) Indians at his ranch up in Alturas, he naturally chose Pit River culture as his primary area of concentration. In 1928 de Angulo's valuable introduction to Pit River religion,"La Psychologie religeuse des Achumawi," was published in the French journal, Anthropos. Two years later the author's study of Pit River grammar, "The Achumawi Language," was published by Boas in his International Journal of American Linguistics. The following excerpts have been drawn, almost at random, from a third and final previously unpublished paper in this series, The Achumawi: A Primitive Tribe of Northern California. A more open and less technical study than the two previous works, the paper provides early evidence of the good humor, rich insight, and irrepressible rambling narrative style that characterize the author's later classics Indians in Overalls and Indian Tales.

Some Northern Hokan Plant-Tree-Bush Forms

In this paper, I extend into the domain of plant life the consideration of intersection begun by Haas within the framework of body-part terms. Under discussion here are the diachronic complexities manifested by some northern Hokan morphemes occurring in terms for plants, trees, and bushes. These morphemes, all having a general interpretation 'of the plant world', make up two separate phonological subsets whose members are cognate. The fact that there are extra-Hokan similars for each subset leads to consideration of the possible extra-Hokan connections.


Remote Imagery Studies in Hidden Valley, Nevada

The use of aerial photography for archaeological exploration is not a new technique. Only recently, however, has small-scale, high altitude imagery become available for this purpose. The use of color infrared and other films sensitive in the near-infrared range, and the use of cameras and flight techniques which provide excellent resolution have made such high altitude imagery a practical tool for archaeological investigation. Such small-scale imagery has photographic properties which render it superior to large-scale photography for certain purposes. For example, the small-scale coverage allows the investigator an uninterrupted view of a vast area in a single frame, with a constant sun angle, constant weather conditions, and so on. The search for larger features, like ditches and rock constructions, is thus much facilitated. Observations made in Hidden Valley, Nevada demonstrate the value of high altitude aerial photography for such archaeological purposes.