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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.

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Agriculture Among the Paiute of Owens Valley

The Paiute of Owens Valley had by early historic time progressed to a substantial extent along the path toward large-scale food production. They are perhaps the best instance in North America of a group that developed its own system of vegeculture—a system carried over to include irrigation of a variety of seedbearing plants as well. The Owens Valley Paiute thus offer a better example of agricultural origins than any presently known archaeological cultures that already had domesticated crop plants. And this remarkable achievement of indigenous agriculture occurred in a group which, as Julian Steward (1970) concluded after nearly fifty years of study, had evolved only "proto-bands." This was a retraction of his earlier statement that they were grouped in true composite landowning bands (Steward 1938:50). Comment on that classification we leave for a future time.

Steward (1930:153) himself deserves credit for recognizing that the Owens Valley Paiute use of irrigation could contribute knowledge within the broader framework of the "origins of agriculture." Curiously, during Steward's own time, geographer Carl O. Sauer was carrying out research on the problems of agricultural origins and dispersals. Sauer believed that vegetative propagation had preceded seed cultivation and set out to develop a theoretical basis for locating the cradle of agriculture (Harlan 1975:46). Between Sauer (1952) and Edgar Anderson (1954) a model evolved suggesting that agricultural peoples were sedentary fisherfolk living in wooded lands and bringing aggressive plants back from their riverbanks that found natural places to sprout in the kitchen middens of their homes.

Evidence since has shown that some of the presuppositions of Sauer and Anderson were simplistic or incorrect (Harlan 1975:45). Nevertheless, it seems odd that Sauer, living in California, failed to note that Steward had called attention to practices that so nearly coincided with his own model for agricultural origins. Nearly fifty years have elapsed since Steward wrote his seminal paper on irrigation in Owens Valley, but as yet no anthropologists have mustered interest in closely studying the problem. It may well be too late to acquire much of the information which still remains unknown about Owens Valley agriculture— such as the dating of its origin and the conditions under which it began. Yet research in this neglected area by archaeologists, linguists, plant scientists, and other scholars could probably tell us as much about agricultural origins as current research on the subject being carried out elsewhere in the world.

Man and the Pleistocene Fauna at Potter Creek Cave, California

Despite more than seventy years of discussion and controversy, the validity of the evidence for the contemporaneity of man and extinct Pleistocene fauna at Potter Creek Cave, Shasta County, California, has never been resolved. It is most fitting that on the centennial of the first published account of the discovery of fossil bones within this cavern—by Livingston Stone's exploring party of 1874 (Stone 1876)—we are now able to present evidence providing a partial solution to this problem.

Some Paipai Accounts

The Paipai are a Yuman-speaking people who live in and around Santa Catarina, about 80 miles east-southeast of Ensenada, Baja California. In aboriginal times, they were hunters and gatherers, though in occasional contact with the farming tribes of the lower Colorado River. From roughly 1798 until 1840, the Paipai were under the control of a Dominican mission at Santa Catarina (Meigs 1935), but they never entirely abandoned their hunting and gathering activities. Since the late nineteenth century, they have become increasingly integrated into the local Mexican economy, but at the time of the field work (1958-1959), they still retained considerable knowledge of their traditional subsistence activities.

In the following brief accounts, the Paipai describe some of these activities in their own language. Tuna, datil, pinon, bitter acorns, subjects of the four textlets, are among the food resources that were still being used at least occasionally when the field work was done. I present these accounts to (1) provide some examples of discourse in what is still one of the least-known Yuman languages and (2) record some hitherto unpublished data on food gathering and food processing, using the terms of the Paipai and making the distinctions they make.

The Crowning of Sir Francis Drake and Others According to Early Engravers

It seems clear from these observations that persons dealing with old book engravings may be on shaky ground if they attempt to interpret specific historical episodes from loosely documented illustrations, parts of which may be products of sheer imagination rather than first-hand observations. There is often no way of telling whether such illustrations were conceived as supplementary descriptive devices or merely as decorative suggestions of exotic places.

The well-reported custom of "crowning" the Europeans exemplified here may have further overtones in suggesting that the simple natives were thus symbolically giving away their lands to the god-like invaders. Counter to this is the possibility that they were merely being shrewd, knowing that they would soon be overcome by the explosives-bearing foreigners if they did not offer some kind of obeisance. The first of these alternatives would be most attractive to the competitive European backers of the various overseas expeditions in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and perhaps to their descendants as well.

The Development of Pinyon Exploitation in Central Eastern California

Recent archaeological research in Owens Valley, eastern California, has revealed four archaeological phases spanning the period between 3500 B.C. and the historic period. Reconstruction of the prehistoric settlement-subsistence patterns during this interval showed that nuts of the pinyon pine, an important component of the historic diet in the region, were relatively ignored as a subsistence resource until sometime between A.D. 600 and A.D. 1000, when a distinctive procurement system developed around their exploitation (Table 4). Several factors which might account for this shift were explored. At present, there are two viable explanations, both of which view the inception of pinyon exploitation as an attempt to maintain a balance between population and resources. One is that there was a reduction in the pre-existing subsistence base; the other is that there was an increase in local population through natural growth or immigration. Climatic evidence appears to support the former view, while linguistic evidence supports the notion of population increases through immigration. It is also possible that these two factors are functionally related and that the increase in local population was due to immigration from localities more severely affected by an areawide warm-dry interval. These data fail to support Jennings' (1957, 1964, 1968) contention that Great Basin subsistence patterns incorporated all available resources and that this adaptation showed no fundamental changes through time, but tend to support the view that the human ecology of the region was quite variable through time and space.

Indian Paintings from Mission San Fernando: An Historical Interpretation

In most of the other paintings, we see the juxtaposition of cruelty and compassion, love and hate, but in Station Nine evil, personified by both Indians and Spaniards, predominates. This painting definitely stands apart from the rest and may be the artist's most direct personal statement. But taken as a whole, the Stations reveal the artist's ambivalence regarding Spanish culture and colonization. A passionate convert to their religion, he was nonetheless critical of their system. In this sense, Juan Antonio exhibits a personality trait commonly found among those colonized peoples who adopted and admired aspects of European culture yet found it impossible to fathom its contradictions and inconsistencies.

The San Gabriel Stations of the Cross From an Art-Historical Perspective

Even for the most casual observer, the cycle of the Stations of the Cross in the Museum of the Mission San Gabriel Archangel is a compelling visual encounter. For the art historian, it offers as well a fascinating exercise in speculation as to what extent the painter, presumably the Indian neophyte Juan Antonio, was attempting to follow, as best he could, a European prototype representing the agonies of Christ on the Road to Calvary and to what degree we may assume the ingredient of his native imagination and expressive power. Quite obviously, both factors are involved.

Some Wappo Names for People and Languages

The Wappo, a group of Indians located about one hundred miles north of San Francisco, had a fairly usual set of traditions for naming people. It is now too late to recover much information about their names—they have been mostly forgotten as have the people who were named. One aspect, however—their names for some of their neighbors—seems interesting enough to merit separate comment and justifies a brief review of some parts of their naming traditions.


A Diegueno Shaman's Wand: An Object Lesson Illustrating the "Heirloom Hypothesis"

I make but two simple points. The first is to describe an intriguing Diegueno artifact and point up how this artifact might serve as an analogy for some cases of prehistoric behavior. Secondly, I would like to goad archaeologists into venturing beyond the narrow range of hypotheses now in use. There is no need to simply write off stratigraphic anomalies as rodent disturbance or frost heaving (or sloppy excavation). What about testing for temporal curation? We can overextend any argument, of course, and no single hypothesis will serve us unflaggingly. In fact, the heirloom hypothesis will undoubtedly be rejected in most cases. But when it cannot be rejected, then we have something. The Diegueno ceremonial piece suggests a shred of ethnographic behavior of use to archaeologists. I consider it to be a worthwhile object lesson.

Kashaya Pomo Ethnobotanical Project

Both of us are proud of the plant study that we have made. We are proud because we are the first of our tribes to complete something of such importance to the Kashaya Pomo community and other Native Americans. Before we started to gather the plants for our study we took into consideration the feelings of the Kashaya Pomo community. Our hope is that the community will benefit from this study as much as we have. We hope that Kashaya Pomos will teach their children about plants that can heal, teach them about foods they can gather when in need, teach them about the technological uses of plants, and also teach them about the most important part of our culture—the significance of the rituals and ceremonials.

A Cache of Vessels from Cottonwood Spring (Riv-937)

The data indicate the Cottonwood Spring cache was stored away ca. A.D. 1895 to 1910 by a Cahuilla family group, group of women, or women and children (Bean 1974:157) who were engaged in the collecting and storing of nearby plant foods. An important aspect of this cache is the documentation it provides of the survival of certain ceremonial, technological, and subsistence activities well into the period of heavy contact with whites. Such documentation is vital to studies of culture processes and the assessment of European impact upon aboriginal cultures.

A Case of Heat Treatment of Lithic Materials in Aboriginal Northwestern California

The possibility thus exists that cobbles of agate and jasper were collected by Indians from the beaches and placed in fires, perhaps solely for the purpose of lithic reduction or perhaps in connection with stone boiling of water and acorn gruel (attested to by large amounts of associated fire-cracked rock of coarser variety). No careful effort was made by the Indians to control the rate at which the agate and jasper cobbles were heated and cooled, so many cobbles shattered into useless fragments. But in cases where a pot lid flake came off, the piece was plucked from the hearth, allowed to cool, and used as a core. The negative bulb scar of the pot lid flake would have provided the angular facet needed for a striking platform, thus rendering the cobble usable as a source of flakes. The pot lid flake itself was abandoned unused wherever it fell. Both the cobble and the pot lid flake would have been heat-altered during this process, as would any flakes and artifacts derived from the cobble-core.

This hypothetical lithic reduction sequence could economically explain the technological anomalies referred to earlier. It should be tested by means of by-product experiments using heat and the appropriate raw materials, and I present it here in the hope that such experiments will be tried. Such a trial-and error approach to heat treatment would have been feasible along the beaches of northwestern California, where cobbles of agate and jasper abound. If validated, this method of lithic reduction may also be found in other coastal and riverine regions in places where tough isotropic stones were being subjected to natural rounding by water movement.


Sutton: Indian Land Tenure: Bibliographical Essays and A Guide to the Literature

Indian Land Tenure: Bibliographical Essays and a Guide to the Literature.Imre Sutton. New York: Clearwater Publishing Company, 1975. xiii, 290 pp., 8 maps. $18.00 (cloth). $6.95 (paper).

Hoover: Aboriginal Cordage in Western North America

Aboriginal Cordage in Western North America.Robert L. Hoover. El Centro, California: Imperial Valley College Museum Society, Occasional Paper No. 1, 1974. 52 pp.

Gudde: California Gold Camps: A Geographical and Historical Dictionary of Camps, Towns, and Localities Where Gold was Found and Mined, Wayside Stations, and Trading Centers

California Gold Camps: A Geographical and Historical Dictionary of Camps, Towns, and Localities where Gold was Found and Mined, Wayside Stations and Trading Centers.Erwin G. Gudde (Elizabeth K. Gudde, ed.). Berkeley, Los Angeles, and London: University of California Press. 467 pp. $19.50 (cloth).

Heizer: Some Thoughts on California Archaeology at the Moment

Some Thoughts on California Archaeology at the Moment.Robert F. Heizer. Journal of New World Archaeology (Institute of Archaeology, University of California, Los Angeles), Vol. 1, No. 1. November 1975. 13 pp.

Heizer and Baumhoff: Prehistoric Rock Art of Nevada and California

Prehistoric Rock Art of Nevada and Eastern California.Robert F. Heizer and Martin A. Baumhoff. Berkeley: University of California Press. 1976. 412 pp. Illustrations. $24.95.

Heizer: Elizabethan California: A Brief and Sometimes Critical Review of Opinions on the Location of Francis Drake's Five Weeks' Visit with the Indians of Ships Land in 1579

Elizabethan California: A Brief and Sometimes Critical Review of Opinions on the Location of Francis Drake's Five Weeks' Visit with the Indians of Ships Land in 1579.Robert F. Heizer. Ramona, California: Ballena Press. 1974. 101 pp. $3.50 (paper).

Palmquist: Fine California Views: The Photographs of A. W. Ericson

Fine California Views: The Photographs of A. W. Ericson.Peter E. Palmquist. Eureka, California: Interface California Corp. 1975. 111 pp. $20.95 (cloth).