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

Weapons, Shelter and Clothing


The bow among the Yokuts took two forms, the self bow and the sinew-backed bow, both made of mountain cedar. Arrows were both with and without foreshafts, and were plain tipped or equipped with stone points according to uses. Arrow straighteners are bun shaped blocks of soft stone, bearing transverse grooves. (Kroeber 1925,1530-1.) Owens Valley Paiute bows were very similar, being self or plain and made of juniper (Juniperas occidentalis ?) or birch (Betula fotanalis Sarg.) Arrows were almost always of cane equipped with a hardwood foreshaft and a variety of points according to the use. (See Steward, 1933; 259-263 for description and fig. 3 and plate 3 for illustrations. For illustration of a Paiute chipping an arrow point, see Steward, plate 5-f.) The arrow straightener was like that of the Yokuts (Steward, 1925, plate 4, f, g). The quiver was a sack of tanned buckskin for hunting, of gray fox fur for war. (Steward, 1933:263.)

Spears were used by both people for fish. Slings were used incidentally, probably chiefly as toys.


Apparently several types of shelters were built by the hill Yokuts adjoining Sequoia Park. One was the conical shaped, sewed winter house. These were placed in rows. Another was a larger, ridged house with two fireplaces and a door at each end. A third was a conical, bark house. Smaller structures covered with brush or bark were built when travelling or when in the hills in summer. These are somewhat described in Kroeber, 1925:522, and Gayton, 1930-a:366-6. Gayton also gives village arrangement. The Owens Valley Paiute used several types of houses. When in the mountains the house was somewhat tent-shaped, had a ridge pole, and was covered with boughs. The regular winter house was semi-subterranean, conical, and covered with thatch of grass or mats of tules and sometimes with a layer of earth. These people as well as the Yokuts used summer sun shades consisting of four poles with a roof of boughs. In Owens Valley, a dome shaped hut of willows was also used in summer. (Steward, 1933:263-5 and plate 3.)

The houses of the Northfork Mono probably typify those of the tribes near Sequoia Park. These are described by Gifford, 1932, pp. 20-21 and excellently illustrated in plates 2 and 3.

The sweat house on both sides of the Sierra was semi-subterranean, earth covered, and served merely for sweating and as a men's dormitory. (For descriptions, illustrations and details, see Kroeber, 1925:522-23; Steward, 1933, 265-6, fig. 4 and plate 4; Gifford, 1932:20.)


Yokuts men wrapped a deer skin around their loins or went naked. Girls after puberty wore a two piece skirt of willow bark. Both sexes wore rabbit skin blankets for protection against cold and rain and as bed coverings. Moccasins of deer or elk skin of simple patterns were worn when there was need. Rude sandals of bear fur have been reported. Women wore their hair long; for men it was variable. Women pierced their nose septums for bone ornaments. Face tattooing (see illustrations, Kroeber 1925; figs 45-46) was practised more by women than by men. (Kroeber, 1925: 519-520.)

Owens Valley Paiute men wore buckskin shirts and pants (possibly the latter are not aboriginal) or simply buckskin breach clouts, or girded themselves with an untrimmed buckskin. Women wore nothing above the waist, but buckskin dresses below. Both wore moccasins when travelling, and rabbit skin blankets as a cape for protection against the weather. Women allowed their hair to hang loosely from a part in the middle which was sometimes painted red. Men's coiffure varied. Tattooing was not practiced, but the face was painted in a variety of ways. (Steward, 1933:274-5, fig. 8 for face paint.)

For sewing and basket making the Yokuts used bone awls (See illus. Kroeber, 1925:806.) Owens Valley Paiutes used cactus thorns.

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Combined Ethnography

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