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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 7, Issue 2, 1985

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Harvesting Pandora Moth Larvae with the Owens Valley Paiute

The harvesting of Pandora moth larvae (Coloradia pandora lindseyi Barns and Benjamin), or piagi, by the Owens Valley Paiute and other native peoples of the Sierra Nevada of California, has attracted varied attention since the turn of the century. Early papers by entomologists, including Aldrich (1912, 1921), Eldredge (1923), Englehardt (1924), Patterson (1929), and Essig (1934), described the basic process, but were based more on hearsay than on direct observation. They thus created some fanciful impressions. Later ethnographic descriptions, such as those by Steward (1933) and Davis (1965), helped sort fact from fancy, although not completely, as they too were based on secondhand information rather than direct observation. In June, 1981, we observed elderly Paiute from Bishop, California, harvesting and processing Pandora moth larvae. At that time, cost/benefit checks were made on both collection and processing, to which basic nutritional data were added. That season the larvae were collected by hand rather than by the tree-base trenching method that is well attested in the archaeological and ethnographic records. In June, 1982, we planned some additional experiments with the trenching method of collection, in order to compare the basic efficiency of the two techniques. Although unable to complete the experiments because of a population collapse among the larvae, we were able to extrapolate some data from other sources toward these comparisons. This paper focuses on these results, after first describing and illustrating the basic harvesting techniques.

Pine Nut Use in Three Great Basin Cases: Data, Theory, and a Fragmentary Material Record

An apparent correlation between the expansion of pinyon pine into the northern Great Basin and prehistoric settlement shifts in the Reese River Valley and Grouse Creek region (Fig. 1) is explored using data on the costs of pine-nut procurement relative to alternative resources. A model of diet breadth is used to develop predictions about the timing of pine-nut use in the two cases. The diet-breadth model does not accurately predict the timing of pine-nut use in a third case, the Owens Valley (Fig. 1), leading to a discussion of other possible adaptive constraints. This study is about more than prehistoric pine-nut use. The issues confronted in these cases can probably not be resolved without interaction between theory and data. Such interaction can work to evaluate a typically incomplete and frequently misleading archaeological data set, as well as the underlying theories. There is a basic premise here that data, direct or otherwise, rarely speak for themselves and that a Baconian stance, requiring us to refrain from theorizing until "all" the data are in, shortchanges the scientific endeavor.

The California Salmon Fly as a Food Source in Northeastern California

The importance and extent of aboriginal use of insect resources in California is poorly understood. Specific data on insect utilization are uncommon in the anthropological literature, although several genera have been discussed in some detail (cf. Fenenga and Fisher 1978; Swezey 1978; Fowler and Walter 1985). The purpose of this paper is to discuss one such possible insect resource, Pteronarcys californica Newport (Plecoptera: Pteronarcidae), first noted by Aldrich (1912). This species of stonefly (not a true fly) is commonly known as the California salmon fly, or the willow fly. This stonefly may have been used as food by a number of groups in northeastern California (Fig. 1), a possibility briefly discussed by Essig (1931: 33-35, Figs. 27 and 28) and more fully explored here.

Invaders from the South? Archaeological Discontinuities in the Northwestern Great Basin

More recently, major excavations were conducted under the direction of the author at Last Supper Cave (NV-HU-102), located 32 km. northeast of Hanging Rock Shelter. As a consequence of these investigations, a 9,000-year obsidian hydration sequence is now available for the site. Among the objectives of this paper is a comparative evaluation of the hydration records from Hanging Rock Shelter and Last Supper Cave. Given advances since 1972 in the measurement of obsidian hydration bands, additional hydration measurements have been obtained for certain of the specimens from Hanging Rock Shelter. Hydration data from both sites collectively support the recognition of terminal Anathermal/early Altithermal and late Medithermal episodes of occupational hiatus and projectile point stylistic discontinuity in northwestern Nevada.

Lichen Dating of Alpine Villages in the White Mountains, California

These problems are not likely to disappear anytime soon. Theoretical developments on a variety of fronts make it clear that the kinds of archaeological phenomena that must be investigated and interrelated to form reasonably comprehensive interpretations of given points in time are exceedingly diverse and therefore unlikely to yield to any single chronometric technique. Given these circumstances, the prudent archaeologist will seek to use as many techniques as possible, balancing their costs, reliability, and breadth of potential application. It is partly our purpose here to illustrate the use of a technique, lichenometry, that has until now enjoyed use principally in glacial geology but that would seem to deserve consideration in archaeology as well. As with any other chronometric technique, lichenometry has both advantages and disadvantages. We are certainly not holding it up as a panacea; it is hardly that. It is, however, a largely untapped source of information that should prove useful in developing comprehensive archaeological chronologies for some regions.

The George T. Hunting Complex, Deep Springs Valley, California

In summary, the behavioral characteristics and habitat requirements of the three potential prey species suggest that mountain sheep were the most likely target of hunters at the site, an hypothesis supported by ethnographic records that confirm the hunting of sheep at this location. Deer and pronghorn were present, however, and might well have been taken incidentally.


Radiocarbon Dates for the Pauma Complex Component at the Pankey Site, Northern San Diego County, California

Recently determined radiocarbon dates for an archaeological component believed to reflect an Early Milling Stone occupancy in southern California provide chronological support for the recognition of La Jolla-like cultural traits in interior San Diego county.

Fremont Irrigation: Evidence from Gooseberry Valley, Central Utah

This paper reports the discovery and subsequent investigation of a buried channel in the alluvial flood plain of Gooseberry Valley in central Utah. The channel is located immediately east of Nawthis Village, a large Fremont habitation site which has been the focus of the University of Utah Archaeological Field School since 1978 (Jennings 1978; Metcalfe and O'Connell 1979; Jones and O'Connell 1981; Jones and Metcalfe 1981; Metcalfe 1983). Based on geomorphic and archaeological evidence, we argue that the buried channel is artificial and is, in all probability, the remains of a channel constructed and maintained by the inhabitants of Nawthis Village for the purpose of irrigating their crops.

Ovate Pestles and an Isolated Processing Station in Interior Southern California

This report describes a small undistinguished bedrock processing station located on an unnamed drainage tributary to Tucalota Creek. The feature is situated at an elevation of 2,140 feet above sea level east of Colt Road not far from the junction of Colt and Barranca roads in western Riverside County (Fig. 1). It is proposed that this site has three characteristics worthy of comment: 1. As of the late 1970s the pestles used in the processing were still in situ. 2. The number of pestle-like artifacts present on this rock exceed the number of mortars by a factor of four to one (nine pestles to two mortars). 3. The pestle forms are ovate to nearly round in outline as opposed to the elongate forms often associated with bedrock mortars in the region at large. In addition to this difference in outline form, several of the pestles are characterized by multiple pounding surfaces, and all have clearly defined rubbing wear on one or both sides.

A Fluted Point from the Mendocino County Coast, California

In this report the depositional context and formal attributes of the Caspar fluted point are described and discussed. A reconstruction is then offered of the probable Mendocino coastal habitat that could have been exploited by hunter-gatherers 11,000 years ago.


The Yuma Indians: A Comment

A comparison of Trippel's article and ten Kate's report reveals almost complete agreement on ethnographic and ethnohistorical data. However, the notes of ten Kate provide some additional data and in one instance contradict a statement by Trippel (ten Kate 1885: 105-116; Hovens n.d.b).


Blackburn, ed.: Woman, Poet, Scientist: Essays in New World Anthropology Honoring Dr. Emma Lou Davis

Woman, Poet, Scientist: Essays in New World Anthropology Honoring Dr. Emma Lou Davis.Thomas C. Blackburn, editor. Ballena Press Anthropological Papers No. 29. Los Altos and San Diego, CA: Ballena Press and Great Basin Foundation, 1985. vii + 160 pp., 29 figures, 24 tables, $21.50 (paper).

Breschini and Haversat, eds.: Papers on Central California Prehistory

Papers on Central California Prehistory: 1.Gary S. Breschini and Trudy Haversat, series editors. Salinas, CA. Coyote Press Archives of California Prehistory, No. 3, 1984. 87 pp., figures, tables, photos, $4.95, (paper).

Hudson and Blackburn: The Material Culture of the Chumash Interaction Sphere, Volume III: Clothing, Ornamentation, and Grooming

The Material Culture of the Chumash Interaction Sphere, Volume III: Clothing, Ornamentation, and Grooming.Travis Hudson and Thomas C. Blackburn. Menlo Park: Ballena Press Anthropological Papers No. 28 (a Ballena Press/Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Cooperative Publication), 1985, 375 pp., figures, tables. References, Index, $24.95 (paper), $39.95 (cloth).

d'Azevedo: Straight with the Medicine: Narratives of Washoe Followers of the Tipi Way

Straight with the Medicine: Narratives of Washoe Followers of the Tipi Way.Warren L. d'Azevedo. Heyday Books, Berkeley, 1985, ix+ 54 pp., 14 illus., $5.95. (Originally published in 1978 by Black Rock Press, Reno.)