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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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Archaeology and California's Climate

This paper summarizes information on California's Holocene environments and presents archaeological evidence for some dramatic cultural adjustments from natural changes. Some goals include showing how archaeology may be used: (1) to help validate models of environmental change developed in other sciences; (2) to independently discover environmental trends and conditions; (3) to add the dimension of human adaptation to studies of environmental change; and (4) to show how natural changes affected particular localities. Findings not only suggest how archaeology may contribute to better paleoenvironmental reconstructions, but also raise questions about the long-term viability of current land use patterns in the far west.

Mirror of Our Conscience: Surviving Photographic Images of California Indians Produced Before 1860

Photographs of the Indians of California taken prior to 1860 are exceedingly rare. They are so rare that as of this writing only one original daguerreotype of a California Indian is known (Plate 1). This surviving example was retrieved from a trash pile in an old house in Los Angeles (Harrington 1954: 195). Tentatively identified as a portrait of a Southern Maidu, this image may have been made as early as 1850 (Kroeber and Heizer 1968:9).

Beyond the single daguerreotype mentioned, our knowledge of other pre-1860 photographic images of California Indians is largely limited to drawings, paintings, and engravings supposedly based on original photographs. Some copy reproductions of lost or otherwise misplaced daguerreotypes and ambrotypes are also known. Still other information must be drawn from the photographic literature of the era—brief mentions of the previous existence of early images.

Approach and Process of Dating Lake Mohave Artifacts

The Lake Mohave sites present problems of dating cultural material that are typical of many sites in the California deserts. The artifacts lie on the deflated surface of ancient shorelines making it impossible to demonstrate association of individual artifacts with ancient geological features. The cultural material found on these deflated surfaces may be as old as the surface or it may date from anytime after the formation of the surface. The difficulty of dating the Lake Mohave artifact assemblages has given rise to controversies over the years (Campbell et al. 1937; Rogers 1939; Roberts 1940; Brainerd 1953; Warren and DeCosta 1964; Heizer 1965, 1970; Warren 1970). This paper presents the results of investigations aimed at demonstrating the association of specific artifacts with geomorphic features of known age. As a result, the occupation at Lake Mohave by 8000 B.C. can be firmly established.

The Trail to Kashtiq

This paper presents an attempt to settle the problem of the original site of Kashtiq by (1) examining the available evidence and (2) by offering a hypothesis to explain how the name came to be applied to two widely separated localities. A final section will present recently discovered evidence which hints that expanded boundaries for the Interior Chumash may be in order, but not so divergent as those proposed by Beeler and Klar.

Kawaiisu Basketry

While some Indian tribes were widely known for their distinctive basketry, the dealers and collectors were not always concerned about identifying the sources of their treasures. Thus James, quoted above, is aware of the presence of "fine basket makers in Kern County," but knows nothing of their tribal affiliation. He never refers to the Kawaiisu by any name although he knows of the existence of Indians on and around "Paiuti" (Piute) Mountain at the heart of the Kawaiisu area. As will be seen below, he describes "one of the most interesting baskets I have ever seen," owned by an aged woman "on Paiuti Mountain, Kern Co.

Today it is quite clear that there are more Kawaiisu baskets than can be identified with certainty.

The Painted Rock Site (SBa-502 and SBa-526): Sapaksi, The House of the Sun

The rock paintings of the Chumash Indians have been a focus of interest for many years. However, the vanished behavioral context of these paintings is poorly understood. In this paper we attempt to establish a linkage between a rock art site described in historic ethnography and a known rock art site in the Sierra Madre Mountains.

The Integration of Myth and Ritual in South-Central California: The Northern Complex

There can be little doubt that religious beliefs (and the ritual practices associated with them) constituted exceptionally important elements in the daily lives of the native peoples of south-central California. Complex mythologies, elaborate cosmographies, and interlocking belief systems served to link both the individual and the community with the realm of the sacred, and in turn were given dramatic expression (in both concrete and abstract form) by shamans, priests, and various other ritualists. The primary setting for these community-oriented religious activities was the "fiesta," a complex of events which also constituted an important medium for significant social, political, economic, and aesthetic interaction (Blackburn 1974; Bean 1972). These ceremonial occasions appear in fact to have drawn many different communities into a coherent yet flexible network of interacting subsystems that transcended normal ethnic, political, and linguistic boundaries. It seems clear to us that a reconstruction of this system, involving both a delimitation of the constituent components and a description of their integration, should be a major goal for future ethnohistoric research in the region; however, it seems equally clear that a necessary prerequisite to the achievement of this goal must be a general overview of the ideological bases (i.e., ritual practices and mythological beliefs) which served as the primary rationale for ceremonial interaction. We hope that the present paper will serve as an initial step toward the ultimate achievement of just such an overview.

Origin of the Horse

A retelling of the latter part of the myth entitled "Coyote Went to Get Basketry Material," or more properly referred to as "Sinawavi Togotsi, Coyote's Grandson."


Barrett's Armyworm: A Curious Ethnographic Problem

In May, 1904, S. A. Barrett, then a graduate student in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, personally observed and photographed Central Pomo from Yokaia rancheria collecting a larval insect food which he described as an "army worm," known as li to the Central Pomo. With allowance for somewhat inexact reporting, casual field observations of variation in larval coloration, it seems likely that Barrett's "army worm" is, in fact, the noctuid Homoncocnemis fortis.

An Unusual Stone Effigy from San Clemente Island, California

Sculptured in the round, the unusual stone object pictured here (Fig. 1) was recovered some ten years ago on San Clemente Island. The finder, Mr. Michael Hammer, discovered it on the surface near a small cave, high above Seal Cove, along the west coast of the island. No less than ten small shell middens are known along the tops of the cliffs on the seaward edge of Seal Cove (McKusick and Warren 1959:122), but unfortunately the effigy was not directly associated with any archaeological midden in the area. Mr. Hammer noted, however, that midden debris was nearby. The specimen has been kindly loaned to the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History by Mr. Hammer for the description presented here.

A Series of Discoidals from Northern San Diego County, California

Too little information is available on discoidals in southern California to make definitive statements at this point. Discoidals may be much more common in the archaeological record but may not be recognized, being viewed as unusual manos. This paper has attempted to expand the literature on discoidals and to make more people aware of their existence. This will hopefully result in a broader understanding of them.


Petition to Congress on Behalf of the Yosemite Indians

While gathering data at the Yosemite National Park Research Library for a book I am preparing on the social and political history of Yosemite Indians 1851-1978, I discovered this most interesting memorial to Congress from the Yosemite, Paiute, and Mono tribesmen native to the region. This petition is important for several reasons, but mostly because it provides the reader with an incredible description of the political, military, and ecological factors driving remaining tribesmen from their valley. The Yosemite Indians suffered one of the earliest large scale Anglo-militia campaigns of the American period (Bunnell 1880). Although brutally driven to the Fresno River Indian Farm in 1851, in a short time the remnants of Tenaya's band came back to their valley. Like most Native peoples they desired to live and die on their traditional lands.

A Strategic Mission: Santa Catalina

The documents that follow, which are from the Bancroft Library transcripts of the California archives, are examples of some of the materials that shed light on the frontier of Alta and Baja California between 1774 and 1781.


Hudson and Underhay: Crystals in the Sky: An Intellectual Odyssey Involving Chumash Astronomy, Cosmology, and Rock Art

Crystals in the Sky: An Intellectual Odyssey Involving Chumash Astronomy, Cosmology, and Rock Art. Travis Hudson and Ernest Underhay (Foreword by Anthony F. Aveni and illustrated by Campbell Grant). Socorro, New Mexico: Ballena Press Anthropological Papers No. 10, 1978, 163 pp., figs., tables, photographs, $8.95 (paper).

Wallace and Wallace: Ancient Peoples and Cultures of Death Valley National Monument

Ancient Peoples and Cultures of Death Valley National Monument. William J. Wallace and Edith Wallace. Ramona, Calif.: Acoma Books, 1978, 34 pp., 26 photos, 1 chart, 5 sketches, $2.95 (paper).

Seiler: Cahuilla Grammar

Cahuilla Grammar. Hansjakob Sieler. Morongo Indian Reservation, Banning: Malki Museum Press, 1977, x + 361 pp., $12.00 (paper).

Heizer, ed.: Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 5, California

Handbook of North American Indians, Vol. 8, California. Robert F. Heizer, vol. ed. Washington, D.C: Smithsonian Institution, 1978, 800 pp. many illus., $13.50 (hardbound).

Latta: Handbook of Yokuts Indians (second edition)

Handbook of Yokuts Indians. Frank F. Latta. Second edition, revised and enlarged. Santa Cruz: Bear State Books, 1977, xxxi + 765 pp., 183 photographic illustrations, $20.00

Laird: The Chemehuevis

The Chemehuevis. Carobeth Laird. Banning: Malki Museum Press, 1976. xxviii + 349 pages, 2 maps, $15.00 (hardback), $8.95 (paper).

Kelly: Cocopa Ethnography

Cocopa Ethnography. William H. Kelly. Anthropological Papers of the University of Arizona No. 29, 1977, 150 pp., 34 figs, including 8 maps and 26 black/white Illustrations, 11 tables. $7.95 (paper).

Anderson: A Revised, Annotated Bibliography of the Chumash and their Predecessors

A Revised, Annotated Bibliography of the Chumash and their Predecessors. Compiled by Eugene N. Anderson, Jr., Socorro, New Mexico: Ballena Press Anthropological Papers No. 11, 1978, 82 pp., 1 map, $5.95 (paper).