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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 24, Issue 1, 2002

Issue cover


Pipes and Tobacco Use Among Southern California Yuman Speaker

An article was recently published here (Schaefer 2000) describing a cremation feature at the Elmore Site, CA-IMP-6427. This was a relatively small, well preserved habitation site near the southwest corner of present-day Salton Sea. The cremation feature was interpreted by means of early ethnographic accounts of the southern Yuman speakers. However, in classifying a Yuman bow pipe as a ceremonial object, the article underscores a source of some confusion among contemporary Southern California archaeologists. While the published ethnographic record is rather thin, a careful reading leads one to conclude that tobacco was sometimes used in shamanistic curing ritual, however, tobacco was not commonly used in ceremonial contexts and it did not have symbolic or spiritual significance among Yuman speakers. Tobacco was sacred among Shoshonean speakers and was used ceremonially. Archaeological research suggests they did have the bow pipe, but evidently, this type of pipe was not used ceremonially. To consider the bow pipe a ceremonial object is inconsistent with the ethnographic record.

Archaeological Curved Throwing Sticks from Fish Cave, near Fallon, Nevada

While attending the 32nd Annual Meeting of the Society for California Archaeologists, April 8-11, 1998, I became acquainted with Dr. Henry C. Koerper who gave a paper with two co-authors, Henry Pinkston and Michael Wilken, and the paper's title was "Nonreturn Boomerangs in Baja California Norte." I asked for a copy of that paper and one other (Koerper 1997) he had previously written, "A Game String and Rabbit Stick Cache from Borrego Valley, San Diego Country, (Koerper 1998: 252-270). I told him about two wooden "Rabbit Clubs" which had been found in Lovelock Cave, (Loud and Harrington 1929:Plate 16a and b) (Figure 1) and the nine so-called "rabbit clubs" found in Fish Cave near Fallon, Nevada by S.M. Wheeler and his wife Georgia [Wheeler S.M. and Wheeler G.N. 1969:68-70; see also Winslow (1996) and Winslow and Wedding (1997:140-150.)] I told Dr. Koerper that I would date four of the nine so-called "rabbit clubs" from Fish Cave by Accelerator Mass Spectrometry. I sent samples off to Dr. "Erv" Taylor at the University of California, Riverside and the results came back a few weeks later. However, before I relate the dates to you, let us look at the site. Fish Cave in which the seven "rabbit clubs" and two "boomerangs" were found by the Wheelers.

The Catcher Was a Cahuilla: A Remembrance of John Tortes Meyers (1880-1971)

Native American athletes achieved their greatest recognition in modern sports during the period from the turn of the century through the 1920s (Oxendine 1988). Among the notables were several Californians. For instance, Antonio Lubo, Elmer Busch, and Peter Calac all served as gridiron captains under Coach "Pop" Warner at Carlisle Indian Industrial School (Koerper 2000), where at various times they were teammates of the legendary Jim Thorpe (Peterson n.d.; Steckbeck 1951). Calac was Luiseno, Busch was Pomo, and Lubo was a Santa Rosa Mountain Cahuilla.

Artifacts From a Submerged Prehistoric Site On the Coos Bay Estuary, Southern Oregon Coast

Artifacts recovered during channel dredging in the Coos Bay estuary include the first wooden fish clubs from an archaeological context on the Oregon coast. The clubs and other artifacts, shell debris, fire-cracked rock, and fish weir stakes recovered by the dredge point to the presence of a submerged archaeological site at the mouth of South Slough, a major arm of Coos Bay. The cultural deposits at 35CS135 may represent a submerged prehistoric component of an ethnographic village at the mouth of South Slough. Radiocarbon dates from the two wooden clubs suggest an age of about AD 1020- 1450 for the inferred period of site occupation represented by the dredged cultural deposits. Although great earthquakes and accompanying tsunamis have episodically devastated the Oregon coast over the past 5000 years, the cultural deposits at 35CS135 were more likely submerged gradually by a slow rise in sea level than by sudden, earthquake-induced, coastal subsidence.

Middle to Late Archaic Period Changes in Terrestrial Resource Exploitation Along the Los Peñasquitos Creek Watershed in Western San Diego County: Vertebrate Faunal Evidence from the Scripps Poway Parkway Site (CA-SDI-4608)

Archaic Period subsistence data recovered from two temporally distinct features at the Scripps Poway Parkway site (CA-SDI-4608) were assessed in an analysis of differences between Middle and Late Archaic Period subsistence practices at inland sites along the Los Penasquitos watershed. The Late Archaic sample was hypothesized to show evidence of a more intensive terrestrial focus, exhibiting greater proportions of deer and Leporid species, and greater species diversity, due to more intensified exploitation of terrestrial resources in response to degradation of the coastal habitat at Los Penasquitos Lagoon following increased sediment flux ca. 3,500 B.P. Although species diversity measures were essentially equal between the samples, indicating cultural continuity rather than cultural change between Middle and Late Archaic Periods, species proportions by bone weight indicated a higher reliance on Leporid species during the Late Archaic Period, which may have been in response to an overharvest of deer, indicating intensification on terrestrial resources. Los Penasquitos Lagoon, which remained open and tidally flushed throughout the Late Holocene, was nonetheless affected by sediment flux and habitat degradation, which necessitated an intensification on terrestrial resources.

Prehistoric Marine Mammal Overkill in the Northeastern Pacific: A Review of New Evidence

A model of prehistoric marine mammal overexploitation advanced by Hildebrandt and Jones (1992) for the northeastern Pacific has been challenged by Colten (1995) and Colten and Arnold (1998) who argue that diachronic patterns in faunal remains from California's Channel Islands reflect climatically-induced decline in marine productivity and local socio-cultural developments not overpredation. In this paper, we point out that some Channel Islands faunal trends are consistent with overexploitation, while others reflect methodological variation between studies. Newly available paleoenvironmental data raise questions about previous characterizations of late Holocene marine productivity, while new zooarchaeological findings from Monterey Bay, San Miguel and San Clemente Islands provide strong support for overexploitation in ways not envisioned in the original model. Such findings show that linear optimal foraging constructs may not account for all local variation in faunal assemblages, but still provide powerful explanations for broad patterns over time and can further provide useful insights into prehistoric human ecology.

Resource Intensification and Environmental Variability: Subsistence Patterns in Middle and Late Period Deposits at CA-SBA-225, Vandenberg Air Force Base, California

The nature of and responses to population-resource imbalances have played an important role in debates surrounding the development of complexity among Chumash populations of the Santa Barbara Channel region. Faunal assemblages from Middle and Late Period deposits at CA-SBA-225 were analyzed to evaluate whether people occupying the Vandenberg coastline experienced conditions similar to those interpreted for mainland and island populations to the south. Regional data indicate that residents responded to stressful periods promoted by limited terrestrial productivity and increased population densities in the Late Period. However, reliance on lower-ranked shellfish species at CA-SBA- 225 and other sites through time does not conform precisely to expectations, thereby requiring additional explanation. It is argued that natural variation in resource availability and abundance contributes significantly to the character of these faunal assemblages. In sum, this analysis highlights the necessity of understanding local environmental variability before invoking models of resource intensification to explain subsistence data.

Antiquity and Function: Humboldt Basal-notched Bifaces in the Southwestern Great Basin

A review of previous data sets and recent research indicates that Humboldt Basal-notched biface forms are characterized by distinctive temporal spans within the prehistoric record of the southwestern Great Basin. Contrary to previous conclusions, we believe that the biface forms had two distinct periods of use, an early (4000 to 500 B.C.) and a late (500 B.C. to A.D. 800) manifestation. Humboldt Basal-notched bifaces from these two periods can be differentiated typologically and perhaps functionally.