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Indian Culture
(Owens Valley Paiute, Tubatulabal, Western Mono, Yokuts)

Tribal Distributions

In native times, the region now included in Sequoia National Park was given over to two distinctive Indian groups, the Western Mono and the Tubatulabal. The Balwisha division of the Shoshonean-speaking Western Mono inhabited the upper Kaweah River drainage, including the part which lies in the western portion of the park. The Western Mono occurred also to the north of the park, occupying the western slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains between their summit and western foothills. In the foothills they abut the San Joaquin Valley and foothill Yokuts. The eastern portion of Sequoia park, that is, the Kern River drainage, falls in the territory of the Shoshonean-speaking Tubatulabal or Pitanisha, who are, like the Western Mono, a mountain people, and who occupied the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains west of their summit.

East of the water-shed of the Sierra is a third Shoshonean-speaking group, the Owens Valley Paiute (formerly called the Eastern Mono). Their territory adjoins that of the Western Mono and Tubatulabal at the summit of the Sierra, that is, at the eastern boundary of Sequoia Park, but also includes a large portion of eastern California to the north. South and east of the Western Mono were the Yokuts, a large group of people distributed mainly in the flat San Joaquin Valley but locally running up slightly into the Sierra foothills, and speaking a language which bears no relation to Shoshonean, but which belongs to the great west coast stock, the Penutian.

Sequoia National Park, then, was permanently occupied in its western half by the Balwisha group of the Western Mono, while its eastern half was summer hunting territory of the Tubatulabal. Individuals from the Owens Valley Paiute to the east and the Yokuts to the west undoubtedly visited the country from time to time. Also, many items of Owens Valley or San Joaquin valley origin were traded through this region by the several Indian trails that crossed the Sierra in this latitude. But a collection of Yokuts trade goods cannot be said to characterize the industry of these mountain people any more than would a similar collection of Paiute origin.

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Combined Ethnography

Introduction & Overview
Tribal Distributions
Weapons, Houses, Clothing
Other Weaving
Musical Instruments & Misc.
Social Organization
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