Alfred L. Kroeber
Alfred Louis Kroeber was an American cultural anthropologist. He received his Ph. D. under Franz Boas at Columbia University in 1901, the first doctorate in anthropology awarded by Columbia. He was the first professor appointed to the Department of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, he played an integral role in the early days of its Museum of Anthropology, where he served as director from 1909 through 1947. Kroeber provided detailed information about Ishi, the last surviving member of the Yahi people, whom he studied over a period of years, he was the father of the acclaimed novelist and writer of short stories Ursula K. Le Guin. Kroeber was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, to upper middle-class parents: Florence Kroeber, who immigrated at the age of 10 to the United States with his parents and family from Germany, Johanna Muller, of German descent, his family moved into New York when Alfred was quite young, he was tutored and attended private schools there. He had three younger siblings and all had scholarly interests.
The family was bilingual, speaking German at home, Kroeber began to study Latin and Greek in school, beginning a lifelong interest in languages. He attended Columbia College at the age of 16, joining the Philolexian Society and earning an A. B. in English in 1896 and an M. A. in Romantic drama in 1897. Changing fields to the new one of anthropology, he received his Ph. D. under Franz Boas at Columbia University in 1901, basing his 28-page dissertation on decorative symbolism on his field work among the Arapaho. It was the first doctorate in anthropology awarded by Columbia. Kroeber spent most of his career in California at the University of California, Berkeley, he was both a Professor of Anthropology and the Director of what was the University of California Museum of Anthropology. The anthropology department's headquarters building at the University of California is named Kroeber Hall in his honor, he was associated with Berkeley until his retirement in 1946. Kroeber married Henrietta Rothschild in 1906.
She died in 1913, after several years of illness. In 1926 he married again, to Theodora Kracaw Brown, a widow whom he met as a student in one of his graduate seminars, they had two children: Karl Kroeber, a literary critic, the science fiction writer Ursula Kroeber Le Guin. In addition, Alfred adopted Theodora's sons by her first marriage and Clifton Brown, who both took his surname. In 2003, Clifton and Karl Kroeber published a book of essays on Ishi's story, which they co-edited, Ishi in Three Centuries; this is the first scholarly book on Ishi to contain essays by academics. Alfred Kroeber died in Paris on October 5, 1960. Although he is known as a cultural anthropologist, he did significant work in archaeology and anthropological linguistics, he contributed to anthropology by making connections between archaeology and culture, he conducted excavations in New Mexico and Peru. In Peru he helped found the Institute for Andean Studies with the Peruvian anthropologist Julio C. Tello and other major scholars.
Kroeber and his students did important work collecting cultural data on western tribes of Native Americans. The work done in preserving information about California tribes appeared in Handbook of the Indians of California. In that book, Kroeber first described a pattern in California groups where a social unit was smaller and less hierarchically organized than a tribe, elaborated upon in The Patwin and their Neighbors in which Kroeber first coined the term "tribelet" to describe this level of organization. Kroeber is credited with developing the concepts of culture area, cultural configuration, cultural fatigue. Kroeber's influence was so strong that many contemporaries adopted his style of beard and mustache as well as his views as a cultural historian. During his lifetime, he was known as the "Dean of American Anthropologists". Kroeber and Roland B. Dixon were influential in the genetic classification of Native American languages in North America, being responsible for theoretical groupings such as Penutian and Hokan, based on common languages.
He is noted for working with Ishi, claimed to be the last California Yahi Indian. His second wife, Theodora Kracaw Kroeber, wrote a well-known biography of Ishi in Two Worlds. Kroeber's relationship with Ishi was the subject of a film, The Last of His Tribe, starring Jon Voight as Kroeber and Graham Greene as Ishi. Kroeber's textbook, was used for many years. In the late 1940s, it was one of ten books required as reading for all students during their first year at Columbia University, his book, Configurations of Cultural Growth, had a lasting impact on social scientific research on genius and greatness. Kroeber served early on as the plaintiffs' director of research in Indians of California v. the United States, a land claim case. His associate director and the director of research for the federal government in the case had both been students of his: Omer Stewart of the University of Colorado, Ralph Beals of the University of California, Los Angeles, respectively. Kroeber's impact on the Indian Claims Commission may well have established the way expert witnesses presented testimony before the tribunal.
Several of his former students served as expert witnesses.
The Whilkut known as "Redwood Creek Indians" or "Mad River Indians" were an Athapaskan tribe, speaking a dialect similar to the Hupa and Chilula, who inhabited the area on or near the upper Redwood Creek and along the Mad River except near its mouth, up to Iaqua Butte, some settlement in Grouse Creek in the Trinity River drainage in Northwestern California, before contact with Europeans. Little is known of the Whilkut culture beyond its similarity to that of the Hupa and that they were considered by the Hupa and Chilula as a poorer, less settled hill people. Following the gold rush in Northwestern California, routes of pack trains between Humboldt Bay and Weaverville, lay through their territory, their population, never large, was drastically reduced in the 1858-1864 Bald Hills War. Estimated to have 250-350 warriors at the start of the war, the survivors were taken to the Hupa reservation soon after its establishment. After 1870 they drifted back to their traditional homes. Only 50 remained in the 1910 census.
In 1972 only a remnant was left only 20 to 25 individuals. Alfred Louis Kroeber, Handbook of the Indians of California, Volume 1, Kessinger Publishing, 2006, pp. 123, 141. Hupa and Whilkut by William J. Wallace from Robert Heizer, William C. Sturtevant, Handbook of North American Indians: California, Volume 3, Government Printing Office, Washington, 1978, pp. 178-179 Population of Native California Native Americans in California
The Cahuilla known as ʔívil̃uqaletem or Ivilyuqaletem, are a Native American people of the inland areas of southern California. Their original territory included an area of about 2,400 square miles; the traditional Cahuilla territory was near the geographic center of Southern California. It was bounded to the north by the San Bernardino Mountains, to the south by Borrego Springs and the Chocolate Mountains, to the east by the Colorado Desert, to the west by the San Jacinto Plain and the eastern slopes of the Palomar Mountains; the Cahuilla language is in the Uto-Aztecan family. A 1990 census revealed 35 speakers in an ethnic population of 800, it is critically endangered. In their own language, their autonym is ʔívil̃uqaletem, the name of their language is ʔívil̃uʔat, however they call themselves táxliswet meaning'person'. Cahuilla is an exonym applied to the group after mission secularization in the Ranchos of California; the word "Cahuilla" is from the Ivilyuat word kawi'a, meaning "master." Oral legends suggest that when the Cahuilla first moved into the Coachella Valley, a large body of water which geographers call Lake Cahuilla was in existence.
Fed by the Colorado River, it dried up sometime before 1700, following one of the repeated shifts in the river's course. In 1905 a break in a levee created the much smaller Salton Sea in the same location; the Cahuilla lived from the land by using native plants. A notable tree whose fruits they harvested is the California fan palm; the Cahuilla used palm leaves for basketry of many shapes and purposes. The Cahuilla lived in smaller groups than some other tribes; the first encounter with Europeans was in 1774, when Juan Bautista de Anza was looking for a trade route between Sonora and Monterey in Alta California. Living far inland, the Cahuilla priests, or missionaries. Many of the Europeans viewed the desert as having no value, but rather a place to avoid; the Cahuilla learned of Spanish missions and their culture from Indians living close to missions in San Gabriel and San Diego. The Cahuilla provided the vaqueros that worked for the owners of the Rancho San Bernardino, provided security against the raids of the tribes from the desert and mountains on its herds.
The Cahuilla did not encounter Anglo-Americans until the 1840s. Chief Juan Antonio, leader of the Cahuilla Mountain Band, gave traveler Daniel Sexton access to areas near the San Gorgonio Pass in 1842; the Mountain Band lent support to a U. S. Army expedition led by Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald Beale, defending the party against attacks by Wakara and his band of Ute warriors. During the Mexican–American War, Chief Juan Antonio led his warriors to join Californios led by José del Carmen Lugo in attacking their traditional enemy, the Luiseño. Lugo led this action in retaliation for the Pauma Massacre, in which the Luiseno had killed 11 Californios; the combined forces staged an ambush and killed 33–40 of the Luiseno warriors, an event that became known as the Temecula Massacre of 1847. In the treaty ending the war with Mexico, the US promised to honor Mexican land policies; these included recognition of Native American rights to inhabit certain lands, but European-American encroachment on Indian lands became an increasing problem after the US annexed California.
During the 1850s, the Cahuilla came under increasing pressure from waves of European-American migrants because of the California Gold Rush. In 1851, Juan Antonio led his warriors in the destruction of the Irving Gang, a group of bandits, looting the San Bernardino Valley. Following the outcome of the Irving Gang incident, in late 1851, Juan Antonio, his warriors and their families, moved eastward from Politana, toward the San Gorgonio Pass and settled in a valley which branched off to the northeast from San Timoteo Canyon, at a village named Saahatpa. In addition to the influx of Anglo-American miners and outlaws, groups of Mormon colonists, the Cahuilla came into conflict with the neighboring Cupeño tribe to the west. In November 1851, the Garra Revolt occurred, wherein the Cupeno leader Antonio Garra attempted to bring Juan Antonio into his revolt. Juan Antonio, friendly to the Americans, was instrumental in capturing Antonio Garra, ending that revolt; when the California Senate refused to ratify an 1852 treaty granting the Cahuilla control of their lands, some tribal leaders resorted to attacks on approaching settlers and soldiers.
Juan Antonio did not participate in this as long. To encourage the railroad, the U. S. government subdivided the lands into one-mile-square sections, giving the Indians every other section. In 1877 the government established reservation boundaries, which left the Cahuilla with only a small portion of their traditional territories; the Cahuilla have intermarried with non-Cahuilla for the past century. A high percentage of today's Cahuilla tribal members have some degree of mixed ancestry Spanish and African American. Individuals who have grown up in the tribe's ways and identify culturally with the Cahuilla may qualify for official tribal membership by the tribe's internal rules; each federally recognized tribe sets its own rules for membership. Today Palm Springs and the surrounding areas are experiencing rapid development; the Agua Caliente Band of the Cahuilla is an important player in the local economy, operating an array of business enterprises, including land leasing and casino operations, banking.
The Agua Caliente Indian Reservation occupies 126.706 km2 (48
Napa Valley AVA
Napa Valley AVA is an American Viticultural Area located in Napa County in California's Wine Country. Napa Valley is considered one of the premier wine regions in the world. Records of commercial wine production in the region date back to the nineteenth century, but premium wine production dates back only to the 1960s; the combination of Mediterranean climate and geology of the region are conducive to growing quality wine grapes. John Patchett established the Napa Valley's first commercial vineyard in 1858. In 1861 Charles Krug established another of Napa Valley's first commercial wineries in St. Helena. Viticulture in Napa suffered several setbacks in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including an outbreak of the vine disease phylloxera, the institution of Prohibition, the Great Depression; the wine industry in Napa Valley recovered, helped by the results of the Paris Wine Tasting of 1976, came to be seen as capable of producing the best quality wine – equal to that of Old World wine regions.
Napa Valley is now a major enotourism destination. The valley floor is flanked by the Mayacamas Mountain Range on the western and northern sides the Vaca Mountains on the eastern side. Several smaller valleys exist within these two ranges; the floor of the main valley rises from sea level at the southern end to 362 feet above sea level at the northern end in Calistoga at the foot of Mount Saint Helena. The Oakville and Rutherford American Viticultural Areas lie within a geographical area known as the Rutherford Bench in the center of the valley floor; the soil in the southern end of the valley consists of sediments deposited by earlier advances and retreats of San Pablo Bay while the soil at the northern end of the valley contains a large volume of volcanic lava and ash. Several of the small hills that emerge from the middle of the valley floor near Yountville are indicators of the region's volcanic past. Several mesoclimates exist within the area due to various geographical influences; the open southern end of the valley floor is cooler during the growing season due to the proximity of San Pablo Bay while the sheltered, closed northern end is much warmer.
The eastern side of the valley tends to be more arid because winter storms tend to drop much more precipitation on the western mountains and hills. Early pioneer and settler George C. Yount is credited to have been the first to grow grapes in the Napa Valley. In 1864, on the marriage of one of his granddaughters to Thomas Rutherford, Yount gave the couple around 1,000 acres of land, which Rutherford dedicated to winemaking. Commercial production started with John Patchett selling wine for $2 per gallon, his wine cellar, built in 1859, narrowly predates that established in 1861 in St. Helena by Charles Krug, although this is cited as the Napa Valley's first winery. Captain Gustave Niebaum established Inglenook Winery in 1879 near the village of Rutherford; this was the first Bordeaux style winery in the USA. Inglenook wines won gold medals at the 1889 World's Fair in Paris. In 1868 H. W. Crabb bought land near Oakville close to the Napa River. Crabb established a vineyard and winery named To Kalon, by 1877 had planted 130 acres and was producing 50,000 US gallons of wine per year.
Crabb experimented with over 400 grape varieties to find the types best suited for the area. By the end of the nineteenth century there were more than one hundred and forty wineries in the area. Of those original wineries, several still exist in the valley today including Beaulieu, Charles Krug, Chateau Montelena, Far Niente, Markham Vineyards, Schramsberg Vineyards. Viticulture in Napa suffered several setbacks in the late early 20th centuries; the Phylloxera louse killed many of the vines throughout the valley. Prohibition, enacted in 1920, caused many wineries to shut down. A few remained open with agreements to produce sacramental wine. Growers who elected to keep their vines planted sold their crops to home winemakers; the Great Depression slowed the wine business further. These events stalled the growth of the wine industry in California for years. André Tchelistcheff is credited with ushering in the modern era of winemaking in California. Beaulieu hired Tchelisticheff in 1938, he introduced several techniques and procedures to the region, such as aging wine in small French Oak barrels, cold fermentation, vineyard frost prevention, malolactic fermentation.
Following Prohibition, Beringer Vineyards invited attendees of the Golden Gate International Exposition to visit the winery using promotional maps printed with the phrase "All roads lead to Beringer" in 1939. The winery invited Hollywood stars including Clark Gable, Charles Laughton and Carole Lombard to visit; these early promotions are considered to be the birth of wine-based tourism, now a large part of the economy of Napa Valley today. Brother Timothy of Christian Brothers winery was instrumental in establishing the modern wine industry in Napa. After an earlier career as a teacher, he transferred to the order's Mont La Salle located on Mount Veeder in the Mayacamas Mountains northwest of Napa in 1935 to become the wine chemist for the order's expanding wine operations. Christian Brothers had grown grapes and made sacramental wine in Benicia, California during Prohibition, but decided to branch out into commercial production of wine and brandy after the repeal of Prohibition; the science teacher was a fast learner and soon established Christian Brothers as one of the leading brands in the state's budding wine industry.
Brother Timothy's smiling face in advertisements and promotional materials became one of the most familiar images for wine consumers across the country. Following the Second World War, the wine indu
A hunter-gatherer is a human living in a society in which most or all food is obtained by foraging. Hunter-gatherer societies stand in contrast to agricultural societies, which rely on domesticated species. Hunting and gathering was humanity's first and most successful adaptation, occupying at least 90 percent of human history. Following the invention of agriculture, hunter-gatherers who did not change have been displaced or conquered by farming or pastoralist groups in most parts of the world. In West Eurasia, agriculture lead to widespread genetic changes when older hunter-gatherer populations were replaced by Middle Eastern farmers during the Neolithic who in turn were overrun by Indo-Europeans during the Bronze Age. Only a few contemporary societies are classified as hunter-gatherers, many supplement their foraging activity with horticulture or pastoralism. During the 1970s, Lewis Binford suggested that early humans were obtaining food via scavenging, not hunting. Early humans in the Lower Paleolithic lived in forests and woodlands, which allowed them to collect seafood, eggs and fruits besides scavenging.
Rather than killing large animals for meat, according to this view, they used carcasses of such animals that had either been killed by predators or that had died of natural causes. Archaeological and genetic data suggest that the source populations of Paleolithic hunter-gatherers survived in sparsely wooded areas and dispersed through areas of high primary productivity while avoiding dense forest cover. According to the endurance running hypothesis, long-distance running as in persistence hunting, a method still practiced by some hunter-gatherer groups in modern times, was the driving evolutionary force leading to the evolution of certain human characteristics; this hypothesis does not contradict the scavenging hypothesis: both subsistence strategies could have been in use – sequentially, alternating or simultaneously. Hunting and gathering was the subsistence strategy employed by human societies beginning some 1.8 million years ago, by Homo erectus, from its appearance some 0.2 million years ago by Homo sapiens.
Prehistoric hunter-gatherers lived in groups that consisted of several families resulting in a size of a few dozen people. It remained the only mode of subsistence until the end of the Mesolithic period some 10,000 years ago, after this was replaced only with the spread of the Neolithic Revolution. Starting at the transition between the Middle to Upper Paleolithic period, some 80,000 to 70,000 years ago, some hunter-gatherers bands began to specialize, concentrating on hunting a smaller selection of game and gathering a smaller selection of food; this specialization of work involved creating specialized tools such as fishing nets and bone harpoons. The transition into the subsequent Neolithic period is chiefly defined by the unprecedented development of nascent agricultural practices. Agriculture originated as early as 12,000 years ago in the Middle East, independently originated in many other areas including Southeast Asia, parts of Africa and the Andes. Forest gardening was being used as a food production system in various parts of the world over this period.
Forest gardens originated in prehistoric times along jungle-clad river banks and in the wet foothills of monsoon regions. In the gradual process of families improving their immediate environment, useful tree and vine species were identified and improved, whilst undesirable species were eliminated. Superior introduced species were selected and incorporated into the gardens. Many groups continued their hunter-gatherer ways of life, although their numbers have continually declined as a result of pressure from growing agricultural and pastoral communities. Many of them reside in arid regions or tropical forests. Areas that were available to hunter-gatherers were—and continue to be—encroached upon by the settlements of agriculturalists. In the resulting competition for land use, hunter-gatherer societies either adopted these practices or moved to other areas. In addition, Jared Diamond has blamed a decline in the availability of wild foods animal resources. In North and South America, for example, most large mammal species had gone extinct by the end of the Pleistocene—according to Diamond, because of overexploitation by humans, one of several explanations offered for the Quaternary extinction event there.
As the number and size of agricultural societies increased, they expanded into lands traditionally used by hunter-gatherers. This process of agriculture-driven expansion led to the development of the first forms of government in agricultural centers, such as the Fertile Crescent, Ancient India, Ancient China, Sub-Saharan Africa and Norte Chico; as a result of the now near-universal human reliance upon agriculture, the few contemporary hunter-gatherer cultures live in areas unsuitable for agricultural use. Archaeologists can use evidence such as stone tool use to track hunter-gatherer activities, including mobility. Most hunter-gatherers are semi-nomadic and live in temporary settlements. Mobile communities construct shelters using impermanent building materials, or they may use natural rock shelters, where they are available; some hunter-gatherer cultures, such as the indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast and the Yakuts, lived in rich environments that allowed them to be sedentary or semi-sedentary.
Hunter-gatherers tend to have an egalitarian social ethos, although settled hunter-gatherers are an exception to this rule. Nearly
The Kawaiisu are a Native Californian ethnic group in the United States, which lives in the southern California Tehachapi Valley and across the Tehachapi Pass in the southern Sierra Nevada Mountains to the north, toward Lake Isabella and Walker Pass. The Kawaiisu traveled eastward on food-gathering trips to areas in the northern Mojave Desert, to the north and northeast of the Antelope Valley, as far east as the Panamint Valley, the Panamint Mountains, the western edge of Death Valley. Today, some Kawaiisu people are enrolled in the Tule River Indian Tribe; the Kawaiisu language, or Tehachapi, is a member of the Southern Numic division of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The Kawaiisu homeland was bordered by speakers of non-Numic Uto-Aztecan languages; the Kitanemuk to the south spoke Takic, the Tübatulabal to the north spoke the Tübatulabal language a linguistic isolate. The Yokuts to the west were non-Uto-Aztecan; because they spoke a Southern Numic language, the Chemehuevi to the east are the closest linguistic relatives to Kawaiisu.
Before European contact, the Kawaiisu lived in permanent winter villages of 60 to 100 people. They divided into smaller groups during the warmer months of the year and harvested California native plants in the mountains and deserts, animals, for food and raw materials; the Kawaiisu are related by language and culture to the Southern Paiute of southwestern Nevada and the Chemehuevi of the eastern Mojave Desert of California. They may have lived in the desert before coming to the Tehachapi Mountains region as early as 2000 years ago or before; the Kawaiisu maintained friendly relations with the neighboring Kitanemuk and participated in cooperative antelope drives with the Yokuts, another group living in the San Joaquin Valley. The Numic-speaking peoples of this area are famous for Rock art. In 2011, The Kawaiisu Project received the Governor’s Historic Preservation Award for its efforts to document the Kaiwaiisu language and culture, including "the Handbook of the Kawaiisu, language teaching... the Kawaiisu Language and Cultural Center, the Kawaiisu exhibit at the Tehachapi Museum."
A local newspaper noted in 2010, "There are several hundred living Kawaiisu descendents though a pervasive misconception believes them to be all gone." Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. Alfred L. Kroeber proposed the combined 1770 population of the Kawaiisu as 1,500, he estimated the surviving population of the Kawaiisu in 1910 as 500. Kawaiisu traditional narratives Classification of indigenous peoples of the Americas Category:Native American history of California Garfinkel, Alan P.. "Archaeology and Rock Art of the Eastern Sierra and Great Basin Frontier". Maturango Museum Publication Number 22. Maturango Museum, California. Garfinkel, Alan P. Donald R. Austin, David Earle, Harold Williams. Myth and Rock Art: Coso Decorated Animal-Humans and the Animal Master. Rock Art Research 26:179-197.. Garfinkel, Alan P. and John F. Romani. Dating Aboriginal Occupation at Tihesti-va’a-di: Changing Land Use Patterns at a Kawaiisu Village, California.
"Kern County Archaeological Society Journal" 10:45-63. Garfinkel, Alan P. and Harold Williams. The Handbook of the Kawaiisu: A Sourcebook and Guide to Primary Resources on the Native Peoples of the far southern Sierra Nevada, Tehachapi Mountains, southwestern Great Basin. Wa-hi San’avi Publications. Gifford, Edward Winslow. Tübatulabal and Kawaiisu kinship terms. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Retrieved 2012-08-26. CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list Kawaiisu Language and Cultural Center Kawaiiasu of Tomo-Kahni Antelope Valley Indian Museum: Kawaiisu peoples Petroglyphs.us: Native American Rock Art Kawaiisu Tribe of the Tejon Indian Reservation Home Page
The Maidu are a Native American people of northern California. They reside in the watershed area of the Feather and American rivers, they reside in Humbug Valley. In Maiduan languages, Maidu means "man." The Maidu people are geographically dispersed into many subgroups or bands, who live and identify with separate valleys and mountains in Northeastern Central California. There are three subcategories of Maidu: The Nisenan or Southern Maidu occupied the whole of the American and Yuba River drainages, they live in lands that were home to the Martis. The Northeastern or Mountain Maidu known as Yamani Maidu, lived on the upper North and Middle forks of the Feather River; the Konkow came out of a valley between Cherokee, Pulga, along the north fork of the Feather River and its tributaries. The Mechupda live in the area of California. Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. Alfred L. Kroeber estimated the 1770 population of the Maidu as 9,000.
Sherburne F. Cook raised this figure to 9,500. Kroeber reported the population of the Maidu in 1910 as 1,100; the 1930 census counted 93, following decimation by social disruption. As of 1995, the Maidu population had recovered to an estimated 3,500; the Maidu were gatherers. The Maidu women were exemplary basket weavers, weaving detailed and useful baskets in sizes ranging from thimble-sized to huge ones ten or more feet in diameter; the weaving on some of these baskets is so fine that a magnifying glass is needed to see the strands. In addition to making woven, watertight baskets for cooking, they made large storage baskets, shallow trays, cradles and seed beaters. To make these baskets, they used dozens of different kinds of wild plant stems, barks and leaves; some of the more common were fern roots, red bark of the redbud, white willow twigs and tule roots, hazel twigs, yucca leaves, brown marsh grass roots and sedge roots. By combining these different kinds of plants, the women made geometric designs on their baskets in red, white, brown or tan.
Maidu elder Marie Potts explains, "The coiled and twining systems were both used, the products were sometimes handsomely decorated according to the inventiveness and skill of the weaver and the materials available, such as feathers of brightly plumaged birds, quills, seeds or beads- anything that could be attached." Like many other California tribes, the Maidu were hunters and gatherers and did not farm. They practiced grooming of their gathering grounds, with fire as a primary tool for this purpose, they tended local groves of oak trees to maximize production of acorns, which were their principal dietary staple after being processed and prepared. According to Maidu elder Marie Potts: Preparing acorns as food was a long and tedious process, undertaken by the women and children; the acorns had to be shelled and ground into meal. This was done by pounding them with a pestle on a hard surface a hollowed-out stone; the tannic acid in the acorns was leached out by spreading the meal smoothly on a bed of pine needles laid over sand.
Cedar or fir boughs were placed across the meal and warm water was poured all over, a process which took several hours, with the boughs distributing the water evenly and flavoring the meal. The Maidu used the abundance of acorns to store large quantities for harder times. Above-ground acorn granaries were created by the weavers. Besides acorns, which provided dietary starch and fat, the Maidu supplemented their acorn diet with edible roots or tubers, other plants and tubers; the women and children collected seeds from the many flowering plants, corms from wild flowers were gathered and processed as part of their diet. The men hunted deer, elk and smaller game, within a spiritual system that respected the animals; the men captured fish from rivers, as they were a prime source of protein. Salmon were collected. Higher in the hills and the mountains, the Maidu built their dwellings semi-underground, to gain protection from the cold; these houses were sizable, circular structures twelve to 18 feet in diameter, with floors dug as much as three feet below ground level.
Once the floor of the house was dug, a pole framework was built. It was covered by pine bark slabs. A sturdy layer of earth was placed along the base of the structure. A central fire was prepared in the house at ground level, it had a stone-lined bedrock mortar to hold heat for food preparation. For summer dwelling, a different structure was built from cut branches tied together and fastened to sapling posts covered with brush and dirt; the summer shelters were built with the principal opening facing east to catch the rising sun, to avoid the heat of afternoon sun. Maidu lived in small bands with no centralized political organization. Leaders were selected from the pool of men who headed the local Kuksu cult, they did not exercise day-to-day authority, but were responsible for settling internal disputes, negotiating over matters arising between villages. The primary religious tradition was known as the Kuksu cult; this central California religious system was based on a male secret society. It was characterized by "big head" dances.
Maidu elder Marie Potts says that the Maidu are traditionally a monotheistic people: "they greeted the sunrise with a prayer of thankfulness.