Chemehuevi Indians -
Ethnography & Ethnohistory
Material Culture, Technology
The material culture developed by the Chemehuevi is very much like that of their neighbors,
As is usually the case, apparent differences are in part due to the
types of material that were available and in part to their preferences.
The Chemehuevi women were skilled basket makers, but made little pottery. Their coiled
baskets resembled those of the San Joaquin Valley rather than those of southern
California, often having constricted necks. Caps, triangular trays, and carrying baskets
were diagonally twined. They usually painted designs on the baskets, rather than
weaving them into the basket.
They made a self-bow shorter than that of the Mojave, with recurved ends, the back
painted, and the middle wrapped. Arrows were often made of cane, and sometimes willow,
with a foreshaft and a flint point. Houses were shelters against the wind and sun
(Kroeber 1925:597-598; Laird 1976:5). The bow used in war was sinew-backed hickory,
which was very hard to draw. It was short and powerful. Another kind of bow was made
of the antler of the mule deer (Laird 1976:240).
Bows for hunting were made of sinew-backed willow. The adoption of the sinew-backed
bow permitted the Chemehuevi to hunt
thus improving their supply of
protein food (Laird 1976:5-6).
The principle material used for houses was brush. Of the four different kinds of
houses they made, one was the flat or shade house, built for ceremonial occasions.
A flat roof of brush was laid across four notched posts. Another roof that sloped
to the ground on the west side was built above the flat roof to provide extra protection
from the sun. In addition, a very large flat house was built to hold the goods brought
to a Cry to be burned or given away (Laird 1976:42-43).
Chemehuevi basket with tree and leaf design