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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Volume 8, Issue 2, 1986

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Foraging Behavior of a Contemporary Northern Great Basin Population

This paper discusses the ethnographic evidence for recent and contemporary gathering practices among the Burns Northern Paiute. Ongoing research is providing data regarding the economic and ecological phases of our project.

Aboriginal Exploitation of Pandora Moth Larvae in East-Central California

This paper examines one insect, the Pandora moth (Coloradia pandora lindseyi Barnes and Benjamin), and its role in the native subsistence systems of east-central California. Exploitation of Pandora moth larvae by the Mono Lake and Owens Valley Paiute has been the focus of varied attention in the literature for over seven decades. By and large, however, these accounts were not based on firsthand observation, and thus there has developed a corpus of misleading, often conflicting, information. The first part of this paper presents a critical evaluation of these discrepancies using both published and unpublished ethnographic, entomological, and archaeological data. Subsequent sections assess the importance of this resource relative to both short- and long-term regional subsistence strategies.

Post-Formative Ceramics in the Eastern Grat Basin

The propositions that I have argued for in this paper can be summarized as follows:

1. The material culture complex that Steward (1937) originally termed "Promontory" represents a distinct archaeological culture that can be distinguished from the Fremont/Sevier on the basis of material culture, settlement pattern, and subsistence strategy.

2. The Promontory culture along the Wasatch Front postdates and replaces the Fremont occupation of the region, although the nature and timing of that replacement is uncertain.

3. The prehistoric Promontory culture is ancestral to the ethnographically known Numic groups found in the northern region of the eastern Great Basin at the time of historic contact (cf. Madsen 1975). However, a northern Plains influence cannot be ruled out.

New Evidence for Fremont Adaptive Diversity

Excavations in the Sevier Desert of western Utah (Fig. 1) have produced architectural evidence for temporary habitation in small brush, wickiup-type structures between A.D. 1000 and 1100 by people with Fremont material culture. The inventory includes Fremont ceramics, a single corn cob, and projectile points common to, but not exclusive to, Fremont sites (Cottonwood Triangular, Rose Spring Cornernotched, and Desert Side-notched). The site broadens our understanding of Fremont architectural and settlement diversity. Several alternatives for eastern Great Basin Fremont economy are presented in fitting this site into the regional subsistence/settlement pattern(s).

Peyotism in California

The future of Peyotism in California is very uncertain even for the Indian peyotists east of Sierra Nevada. Cause for worry for the future of the Native American Church is the possibility that the supply of peyote may disappear from the "peyote gardens" in Texas.

Ethnobotany of Devil's Claw (Proboscidea parviflora ssp. parviflora: Martyniaceae) in the Greater Southwest

During our ongoing research (Nabhan et al. 1981; Bretting 1982; Nabhan and Rea n.d.) we found that devil's claw has a much wider ecogeographical distribution and is (or was) important to many more native groups throughout the Greater Southwest than is commonly known (Fig. 1). This report summarizes the native names, uses, and cultivation practices for devil's claw for that region. Herbarium specimens, ethnohistorical, archaeological, and ethnological literature were first surveyed; these references were complemented and updated by recent extensive fieldwork (by Nabhan) at more than 30 different Indian reservations. With this information it is possible to detail the widespread use of devil's claw in basketry and its enigmatic role in the rituals of Pueblo cultures. Hypotheses regarding the chronology and locality for the domestication of this plant are also suggested. Processes and routes of diffusion for the cultural trail of devil's claw cultivation and use are hypothesized; these may be valuable to ethnologists and others perhaps not interested in devil's claw per se.

Learning about Baja California Indians: Sources and Problems

For the extinct but by no means forgotten Indians of the southern three-fourths of Baja California, there are three sources of data that can be used to construct a more accurate picture of the cultures that they developed in a difficult arid environment over many millennia. These are: (1) comparative studies of still surviving Indian neighbors to the north and also of hunters and gatherers in dry parts of the greater Southwest; (2) archaeological investigations, not only in the peninsula but in the wider southwestern region; and (3) reworking the fairly extensive literature from explorers and missionaries who could have observed the Indians when their cultures were still vital and exploiting new bits of this literature that continue to turn up in obscure archives and collections.

Cupule Petroglyphs in the Diablo Range, California

Cupule petroglyphs have been recorded throughout the world, and it is possible that they represent the oldest known form of rock art. Such petroglyphs are especially numerous in California, where examples are found in most areas of the state (Heizer 1953a; Payen 1968; Fleshman 1975; Minor 1975; Hedges 1981; True and Baumhoff 1981). One area of the state, central Cahfornia's Diablo Range, appears to be characterized by a relatively great number of cupule petroglyph sites. A recent archaeological study conducted in the northern portion of the Diablo Range resulted in the recording of additional petroglyph sites, and generated new ideas about the function of the petroglyphs.


A Maidu Coiled Basket from the North Fork of the Willamette River, Oregon

In 1982, a small coiled basketry bowl with simple, triangular design elements pendant from the rim was donated to the Nevada State Museum. The circumstances under which the basket was found were not fully explained, but the donor did say the basket was recovered by him from a cave in the Oakridge District of the Willamette National Forest on the North Fork of the Willamette River in Lane County, Oregon. Sandy silt still adheres to the interior of the basket, and provides evidence of partial burial by cave debris. As the present residence of the donor is unknown, further details on the nature and exact location of the cave, and other particulars of the find, are not available at this time.

Macahui: The Unmaking of an Enigma

In our investigation of Macahui, evidence on the function of the clearings was considered. Several types of evidence were evaluated, including the patterns of the clearings' occurrence, their associations, their morphology, the characteristics of the pavement immediately around them, and the testimony of the region's contemporary inhabitants. This evidence was used to evaluate three hypothesis: (1) that the clearings were made for prehistoric habitation, (2) that they were made as geoglyphs, and (3) that they were byproducts of modern gravel collection.

To-vah: A Luiseño Power Cave

In addition to those archaeological sites in San Diego County, California, that are easily recognized on the basis of artifact scatters, soil discoloration, and/or bedrock features, important cultural elements exist that generally are not identified. Examples are fairly common in the ethnographic literature, and some features are quite well known. The turtle rock at Potrero described by Lucario Cuevish (Du Bois 1908:115) is a good example, as is the place near Rincon known as Wasimal.

Patterns of Demographic Change in the Missions of Southern Baja California

This report examines the degree of demographic collapse in the southern missions. A study of population change in the region, however, poses a number of problems of interpretation. The early Jesuit figures came after a number of epidemics had already attacked the population and after the 1734- 1737 rebellion, so there is little indication of mission population levels prior to 1734. Secondly, few sacramental registers survive, so the analysis is largely based on censuses. Nevertheless, the data summarized below adequately convey a sense of the demographic disaster which overcame the Guaycura, Pericu, and other ethnic-linguistic groups in southern Baja California. Finally, little quantitative information on the population of La Paz Mission (1720-1749) exists, so that mission is not discussed here.


Hudson and Blackburn: The Material Culture of the Chumash Interaction Sphere, Vol. IV: Ceremonial Paraphernalia, Games, and Amusements

The Material Culture of the Chumash Interaction Sphere, Vol IV: Ceremonial Paraphernalia, Games, and Amusements.Travis Hudson and Thomas C. Blackburn. Los Altos: Ballena Press Anthropological Papers No. 30 (Ballena Press/Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Cooperative Publication), 1986, 457 pp., 310 figs., 3 tables, 1 map, index, $29.95 (paper), $47.95 (cloth).

Griset: Pottery of the Great Basin and Adjacent Areas

Pottery of the Great Basin and Adjacent Areas.Suzanne Griset, ed. University of Utah Anthropological Papers No. Ill, 1986, 170 pp., 34 figs., 5 tables, annotated and indexed bibliography, $17.50 (paper).

Vander: Ghost Dance Songs and Religion of a Wind River Shoshone Woman

Ghost Dance Songs and Religion of a Wind River Shoshone Woman, Judith Vander. Los Angeles: Program in Ethnomusicology, Department of Music, University of California, Los Angeles, Monograph Series in Ethnomusicology No. 4, 1986, 76 pp., $9.95.