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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 34, Issue 1, 2014


James R. Gibson (compiler, translator, and editor): California Through Russian Eyes, 1806 –1848

Norman: the Arthur H. Clark Company, 2013, 491 pages, 13 color illustrations, index, $40.50 (hardcover).

Jerry D. Spangler: Nine Mile Canyon: The Archaeological History of an American Treasure

Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 2013, 208 pages, 116 color photos, 52 black and white illustrations, 4 maps, $34.95 (paper).

Joseph A. M. Gingerich (ed.): In the Eastern Fluted Point Tradition

Salt Lake City: the University of Utah Press, 2013, 438 pp., 107 illustrations, 58 tables, 33 maps, $65.00 (hardcover).


Quantitative Assessment of Ethnographically-Identi ed Activity Areas at the Point Saint George Site (CA-DNO-11) and the Validity of Ethnographic Analogy

California archaeologists routinely use ethnography as a source of analogy for interpreting the archaeological record. In the past, many have cautioned against the uncritical use of the ethnographic record. In this paper we test the validity of ethnographic descriptions of village layout collected by Gould. Speci cally, we test the notion that prehistoric Tolowa villages contained distinct habitation and workshop areas as described ethnographically—a nding qualitatively demonstrated by Gould—through the quantitative analysis of archaeological assemblages from these areas at the Point St. George site (CA‐DNO‐11). We nd a statistically signi cant difference between the artifact assemblages but little difference between faunal remains recovered in the workshop versus the habitation area. We argue that while the ethnographic record should not be adopted uncritically, certain aspects of the ethnographic record, such as site structure, provide accurate analogies for behavior observable in the archaeological record.

Digging Stick Weights and Doughnut Stones: An Analysis of Perforated Stones from the Santa Barbara Channel Region

Archaeologists have long made assumptions about the use and meaning of the variety of perforated stones found in the Santa Barbara Channel region. Those assumptions have focused on where the stones are most likely to be found, who used the stones, and the purpose for which the stones were employed. A systematic study of 525 perforated stones in museum collections was undertaken to evaluate the validity of these assumptions. During the course of the study, thirteen perforated stone types were identi ed on the basis of stylistic attributes, and use wear and metric data were analyzed in an attempt to discern the function of each type of perforated stone. Burial records from 454 Chumash internments on Santa Cruz Island were then consulted to determine which segments of the population may have used the stones and whether that demographic may have changed over time.

A. G. Tassin’s 1877 Manuscript Account of the Mohave Indians

U.S. Army Lieutenant A. G. Tassin, stationed on the lower Colorado River in 1877, prepared this previously unpublished account of the Mohave Indians. AlthoughTassin’s account re ects many of the ethnic stereotypes or misunderstandings of his era, it is among the earliest detailed ethnographic descriptions of the Mohave. It suggests interesting insights into their history, material culture, social organization, and belief systems.

Terminal Pleistocene-Early Holocene Spatio-Temporal and Settlement Patterns Around Pluvial Lake Mojave, California

Multiple lines of evidence are used to establish terminal Pleistocene‐early Holocene (TP‐EH) spatio‐temporal patterns and settlement strategies around pluvial Lake Mojave, California. Pedestrian surveys and in‐ eld lithic analyses at an area of ancient shorelines as well as an alluvial fan adjacent to Soda Lake provide new insights regarding the role Lake Mojave played in the regional settlement system. Surface lithic scatters identi ed along the Lake Mojave shoreline form three spatially separated, dense artifact bands that follow the ancient shorelines and re ect a time‐transgressive shift in habitation closer to the receding water‐level. Analysis of surface lithic artifacts from an alluvial fan indicates the manufacture of pre‐5,000 cal B.P. felsite bifacial and unifacial implements. Despite evidence for a palimpsest of lithic assemblages in each survey area, we conclude that the underlying TP‐EH spatial and temporal patterns remain largely intact and representative of early human technology and settlement strategies around Lake Mojave.

Murder, Massacre, and Mayhem on the California Coast, 1814 –1815: Newly Translated Russian American Company Documents Reveal Company Concern Over Violent Clashes

The Lone Woman of San Nicolas Island, whose solitary 18‐year stay on an island off the coast of southern California was commemorated in Scott O’Dell’s novel, Island of the Blue Dolphins, has been of considerable interest since she was abandoned on the island in 1835 and brought to Santa Barbara in 1853. We examine one of the factors that may have contributed to the Lone Woman’s abandonment and discuss several newly‐translated Russian American Company (RAC) documents, one of which gives details of a long‐rumored deadly con ict between a Russian‐led crew of Alaskan native otter hunters and the San Nicolas Island natives (Nicoleño). All three documents contain important new information about the nature of the sometimes violent interactions between the Spanish, Russians, Americans, California Indians, and Alaskan natives in the early nineteenth century.


A Preshistoric Dog Burial from the Intermediate Period at CA-ORA-1055, Laguna Canyon, Orange County, California

The skeleton of an aboriginal dog was exhumed at CA‐ORA‐1055, a lakeside camp site, whose occupants focused on local resource extraction in Laguna Canyon, central Orange County, California. The burial dates to the later Intermediate Period. ORA‐1055 was originally occupied during the Intermediate Period and abandoned during the Late Period when Laguna Canyon was within the southern territory of the Gabrielino (Tongva) peoples. The feature consists of a dog buried in a folded position, with the head located above the hindquarters, and covered by a cairn comprised of parts of a deep‐basin metate. A possible stone ball is the only potential artifact occurring with the burial. The physical attributes of the animal’s skeleton are consistent with the morphotype known as a Small Indian Dog or Tachichi. The feature most likely represents the burial of a pet, but could be associated with the destruction of personal property associated with funerary activity.

Two Atlatl Engaging Spurs from CA-CCO-18/548: A Critical Examination of Atlatl Spur Taxonomy

The atlatl is one of the oldest and perhaps most universally used weapons in the New World. Evidence for its use in California is found in nearly every region of the state in the form of engaging spurs. Attachable spurs tend to be the least perishable component of this ancient weapon system. Despite their ubiquity in the archaeological record, little has been published on these artifacts since Riddell and McGeein’s 1969 article in American Antiquity. In this paper, we report on a pair of recently excavated bone atlatl engaging spurs recovered from a site in central California. Using these stylistically very different, yet almost contemporaneously dated spurs, we critically examine the application of the existing taxonomic system and present a re nement of White’s 1989 classi cation of California atlatl spurs.


Report of a Reconnaissance Through the Country Around Cape

In January, 1857 Thomas J. Henley, Superintendant of Indian Affairs in California, engaged James Tobin, a local merchant and sometime Indian agent, to explore the coast north of the recently established Mendocino Reservation and report on the number and condition of Indian groups in the region. Tobin’s short report, which was originally printed as part of the Annual Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs for 1857, provides an interesting (though perhaps occasionally exaggerated) glimpse of a relatively pristine area of the state on the brink of signi cant change. It is accompanied here by a map (NARA RG 75, Treasure File, Map #194) that Tobin prepared sometime after writing his report, and which was embellished by wash drawings created by artist Alexander Edouart. Tobin also served as the guide for the 1857 “Mendocino Hunting Party” that was later painted by Edouart (Rogers 1968) and documented by Edward Vischer (1858); Vischer’s account contains a valuable contemporary description of life on the Mendocino Reservation. Three years later, Tobin provided key testimony (1860) to the legislative committee investigating the causes of the so‐called “Mendocino War.”