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Mojave Desert Indians - Historic Desert Indian Territories Map: Cahuilla Indians

Material Culture, Technology

The Cahuillas hunted with throwing sticks, clubs, nets, traps, dead falls with seed triggers, spring-poled snares, arrows (often poison-tipped) and self-backed and sinew-backed bows. They sometimes fired bush clumps to drive game out in the open, and flares to attract birds at night. Baskets of various kinds were used for winnowing, leaching, grinding, transporting, parching, storing, and cooking. Pottery vessels were used for carrying water, for storage, cooking, serving food and drink. Cahuilla tools included mortars and pestles, manos and metates, fire drills, awls, arrow-straighteners, flint knives, wood, horn, and bone spoons and stirrers, scrapers, and hammerstones. Woven rabbitskin blankets served to keep people warm in cold weather. Feathered costumes were worn for ceremonial events, and at these events the Cahuilla made music using rattles derived from insect cocoon, turtle and tortoise shell, and deer-hoofs, along with wood rasps, bone whistles, bull-roarers, and flutes, to make music. They wove bags, storage pouches, cords, and nets from the fibers of yucca, agave, and other plants (Drunker 1937; Bean 1962-1972; Bean 1972, 1978). Remains found in the area show that they stored food and supplies in caves, often in baskets.

Cahuilla families usually lived in circular domed houses with a central fire pit. They varied in size and material, and often had attached ramadas or arbors for shade. It is probable that within the southern Mojave area, Cahuillas, who would have come there to harvest particular crops, would have built brush houses that were fast to build, but would protect them from the sun, rain, or wind, as necessary (Bean 1972).

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An established Cahuilla home

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