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CHEMEHUEVI ETHNOGRAPHY & ETHNOHISTORY
Trade, Exchange, Storage
The Chemehuevi often stored food, after drying or cooking it, in granaries or ceramic jars at their homes, or, on trips through the desert, by burying it in the ground or putting it in caves in pots or baskets. Edible seeds were often stored in baskets covered with potsherds and greasewood gum. The hearts of mescal and other plant resources were boiled and pounded into slabs for storage. Meat, and the pulps of melon and squashes were dried. The need for caches of food and other goods was sufficiently important that stealing food from someone else's cache was enough to bring on a war (Laird 1976:6). In fact, among most southern California Indians, food could be protected by "magical" means, i.e., by placing in the cave a notched stick, called by some a "spirit stick," which could cause harm to anyone who disturbed the cache.
The Chemehuevi "bought" eagles from other tribes, especially the Walapai, for the Mourning Ceremony (Laird 1976:42). Many valuable goods were exchanged at a Cry. Articles belonging to the deceased that the deceased had not seen might be given away. All other of the belongings of the deceased were burned, says Laird, "with the possible exception of the horse" (1976:43).
Cowrie shells from the seacoast were traded inland to the Chemehuevi for use in decorating women's clothing (Laird 1976:6).