Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 20, Issue 1, 1998

Issue cover


The Bodega Miwok as Seen by Mikhail Tikhonovich Tikhanov in 1818

In 1818, a Russian scientific expedition, under the direction of Vasilii Golovnin, visited Bodega Bay (called Port Rumiantsev by the Russians). Apart from the written accounts of at least three members of the expedition concerning the native people there, the expedition artist, Mikhail Tikhonovich Tikhanov, produced five known paintings picturing the life of the people. These remarkable paintings are the only ones known of the Bodega Bay Miwok people near the time of early contact with Europeans. What makes the drawings even more valuable is that they were done by an artist specifically commissioned to render detailed ethnographic drawings of peoples encountered on the expedition. Because of their association with the Russians headquartered at Fort Ross, some authors have mistakenly identified the individuals pictured in Tikhanov's paintings as Pomo. Thanks to some contemporary Spanish accounts and mission records, we can piece together additional details of the individuals and what was going on at the time, especially the fact that the expedition was at Bodega Bay at the time of a shift in the leadership of the Bodega Miwok people due to the death of the old chief.

Early Holocene Adaptations on the Southern Northwest Coast

Rick Minor (1995, 1997) and R. Lee Lyman (1997) recently debated the archaeological evidence for a "pre-littoral" adaptive stage on the southern Northwest Coast. We review the evolution of the usage of the term "pre-littoral," trace its connections with the earlier works of Richard Ross and Clement Meighan, and argue that such terminology is problematic because its etymology is not consistent with its definition and use by Lyman (1991,1997). This has misled other workers who have taken the term more literally. To alleviate this confusion, we propose that one alternative is to abandon the term "pre-littoral" and use the more neutral "Early Holocene" for this period of southern Northwest Coast prehistory. We also discuss the limited archaeological data for this time period on the Oregon Coast and explain why available data are more accurately represented by an Early Holocene designation.

The Introduction of the Bow and Arrow and Lithic Resource Use at Rose Spring (CA-INY-372)

One objective of the most recent re-excavation of the Rose Spring site in eastern California was to evaluate the impact of the introduction of the bow and arrow on local obsidian exploitation. Part of the strategy of the study involved the collection and analysis of a large sample of lithic reduction/production waste produced over the 5,500-year occupation of the site. A change was anticipated in the use of bifacial cores with the adaptation of a new hunting technology requiring less lithic material. A model of change was posited and then tested by using the data generated from the study. The results of the analysis indicate the possibility that certain changes in the reduction strategies practiced by the inhabitants of Rose Spring did not become manifest until nearly 1,000 years after the appearance of the bow, suggesting persistence of the use of the dart and atlatl until about A.D. 1500. An alternative interpretation based on obsidian hydration data is also discussed. Depositional mixing late in time coupled with change in site tool production activities late in time could account for the apparent appearance of continuity of earlier dart point reduction strategies during the long-term use of the site.

The Chemistry, Archaeology, and Ethnography of a Native American Insect Resin

The resin exuded by the North American lac scale insect Tachardiella larrae Comstock has been used in the past by peoples of the Great Basin region as a sealant, an adhesive, a modelling material, and for medicinal purposes. Such use has been reported ethnographically, but identification of the resin surviving on archaeological materials has been problematic until recently. This study seeks to examine the chemistry and use of the resin by examination of its working properties and through the application of a range of analytical techniques to authentic, experimental, and archaeological samples.

Freshwater Crustaceans as an Aboriginal Food Resource in the Northern Great Basin

Phyllopods of the genera Triops, Lepidums, and Branchinecta are common inhabitants of many ephemeral lakes in the American West. Tadpole shrimp (Triops spp. and Lepidums spp.) are known to have been a food source in Mexico, and fairy shrimp (Branchinecta spp.) were eaten by the aboriginal occupants of the Great Basin. Where found, these crustaceans generally occur in numbers large enough to supply abundant calories and nutrients to humans. Several ephemeral lakes studied in the Mojave Desert and northern Great Basin currently sustain large seasonal populations of these crustaceans and also are surrounded by numerous small prehistoric camp sites that typically contain small artifactual assemblages consisting largely of milling implements. Although it seems likely that prehistoric peoples would have exploited such a seemingly valuable resource, direct archaeological evidence for phyllopod use thus far has been lacking. Attempts to extract protein residues from certain artifacts found at such lake sites in southern Idaho, as well as the exploration of other avenues of indirect evidence, have recently been undertaken in an attempt to establish the merit of the "shrimp camp" hypothesis.


Radiocarbon Evidence Relating to Northern Great Basin Basketry Chronology

Adovasio et al. (1986) described Early Holocene basketry from the northern Great Basin as "simple twined and undecorated." Cressman (1986) reported the presence of decorated basketry during the Early Holocene, which he characterized as a "climax of cultural development" in the Fort Rock Basin in Oregon. These contrasting interpretations are the product of relatively small basketry assemblages reliably dated to the Early Holocene from this area, as well as the questionable recovery context of some critical specimens. We report on the direct AMS dating of a number of basketry specimens central to this issue. Early Holocene basketry from the northern Great Basin does include decorated and complex structures; however, since most of the dated specimens fall toward the end of the Early Holocene, the evidence presented here does not provide definitive closure to the issue.

Earliest Island Fox Remains on the Southern Channel Islands: Evidence from San Nicolas Island, California

The island fox Urocyon littoralis, a diminutive cousin of the mainland gray fox U. cinereoargenteus, occurs on six of the eight California Channel Islands. For years, researchers have reported finding the remains of these animals in archaeological sites. Biogeographic studies have tried to determine the evolutionary relationships of island foxes and the nature and timing of their dispersal to each of the islands. These data, along with the fossil and archaeological records, place them on the northern Channel Islands about 16,000 B.P. and on the southern Channel Islands at about 3,800 B.P. Recent archaeological excavations on San Nicolas Island recovered the remains of an island fox that dates to about 5,200 B.P. This find contributes to our current understanding of island fox colonization of the southern Channel Islands.

Nevada Indians in California

This report details visits by Northern Paiutes to central and western California as early as 1846 and continuing through the beginning of the twentieth century. That these visits were not necessarily economically motivated makes this behavior seem somewhat unique in western native history.


Zeanah et al.: An Optimal Foraging Model of Hunter-Gatherer Land Use in the Carson Desert

An Optimal Foraging Model of Hunter-Gatherer Land Use in the Carson Desert. David W. Zeanah, James A. Carter, Daniel P. Dugas, Robert G. Elston, and Julia E. Hammett. Silver City, NV: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U. S. Department of the Navy, and Intermountain Research, 1995, xi + 357 pp., 134 fig., 72 tables, bibliography, 8 appendices, gratis (paper).

Scott: The Alpine Flora of the Rocky Mountains, Vol. 1: The Middle Rocky Mountains

The Alpine Flora of the Rocky Mountains, Vol. 1: The Middle Rocky Mountains. Richard W. Scott. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1995, 793 pp., 10 figs., 4 tables, 609 maps, 4 appendices, 2 indices, $110.00 (hard cover).

Hittman: Corbett Mack: The Life of a Northern Paiute As Told By Michael Hittman

Corbett Mack: The Life of a Northern Paiute As Told By Michael Hittman. Michael Hittman. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996, xvi + 396 pp., 2 maps, 4 plates, 3 appendices, notes, bibliography, index, $45.00 (hard cover), $18.00 (paper).

Goodrich et al.: Kashaya Pomo Plants

Kashaya Pomo Plants. Jennie Goodrich, Claudia Lawson, and Vana Parrish Lawson. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1996 (reprint of a 1980 ed.), 176 pp., 13 figs., $12.95 (paper).

Yohe and Valdez: Archaeological Investigations at the Breakfast Canyon Rockshelters, Death Valley National Monument, Inyo County, California: Shoshone Food Storage and Horticulture in the Southwestern Great Basin

Archaeological Investigations at the Breakfast Canyon Rockshelters, Death Valley National Monument, Inyo County, California: Shoshone Food Storage and Horticulture in the Southwestern Great Basin. Robert M. Yohe II and Sharynn-Marie Valdez, with contributions by Linda S. Cummings, M. Kathleen Davis, Thomas L. Jackson, Margaret E. Newman, and Kathryn Puseman. Museum of Andiropology, California State University Bakersfield, Occasional Papers in Anthropology No. 6, 1996, ix + 91 pp., 51 figs., 13 tables, bibliography, 3 appendices, $8.00 (paper).

Teixeira: The Costanoan/Ohlone Indians of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area: A Research Guide

The Costanoan/Ohlone Indians of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area: A Research Guide. Lauren S. Teixeira. Ballena Press Anthropological Papers No. 46, 1997, 130 pp., 1 map, 5 photographs, $25.00 (hard cover), $12.95 (paper).

Hardesty: The Archaeology of the Donner Party

The Archaeology of the Donner Party. Donald L. Hardesty. Reno: University of Nevada Press, 1997, xii + 156 pp., 38 figs., 4 maps, 15 tables, 3 appendices, bibliography, index, $27.95 (hard cover).