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Mojave Desert Indians - Historic Desert Indian Territories Map:
Indian Culture
(Owens Valley Paiute, Tubatulabal, Western Mono, Yokuts)


Social Organization

The Yokuts and Western Mono in general were organized in exogamous and patrilineal societies which cut completely across tribal groupings, and each tribe comprised totemic patrilineal families. Curiously, the Yaudanchi and Yauelmani Yokuts seem to have lacked the moieties, but the Western Mono (at least some of them) possessed totemic moieties. As the totems of social groups are animals and birds, the list would be of considerable interest if available. (See Gayton, 1930-a; Kroeber, 1925:493-496.) The Tubatulabal seem to have lacked any moiety or clan organization, but the catching and rearing of young eagles practised by them is a ceremony carried on by the tribes nearer the valley in connection with moiety ceremonialism, while the association of certain birds with the eagle and of lizards, vermin, etc., with Coyote suggests the totemic associations of moieties elsewhere. (Kroeber, 1925:605-610.) The Owens Valley Paiute lacked even a vestige of clan, moiety, or totemism, having only more or less patrilinear and patrilocal families, thus typifying the Great Basin.

Each Yokuts and Western Mono village had a chief and it is probable that each tribe had one. This was fixed by heredity, passing to the son or a daughter if a son were lacking. A chief of personality and judgment might extend his influence over neighboring groups, but there is no reason to believe that leagues of Yokuts tribes were ever formed. Each chief was supposed to have two heralds whose position was also hereditary. In addition to these, there was an official clown and transvestite. (Kroeber, 1925:496-7.) (For a detailed description of political organization and the shaman's place in it among the Yokuts and Western Mono, see Gayton, 1930-a.)

Tubatulabal chieftainship, like the Yokuts, descended in the male line, the incumbent selecting a son with the approval of the community. Lacking a son, a daughter was chosen. Wealth was of some importance. (Kroeber, 1925:609.)

In Owens Valley each tribe of Paiute had its headman, the position tending definitely to be patrilineal, but passing out of the family if suitable successors were lacking. Each village also had its leader. But the system of chief's herald, clown and transvestite were lacking (Steward, 1933:304-5). Thus, there is again greater simplicity.

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Desert Indian Culture

Combined Ethnography

Introduction & Overview
Tribal Distributions
Subsistence
Weapons, Houses, Clothing
Pottery
Basketry
Cradles
Other Weaving
Musical Instruments & Misc.
Tobacco
Transportation
Trade
Games
Social Organization
Money
Other Social Customs
Ceremonialism
Archaeology
Bibliography



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