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Mojave River Valley Museum


Indian Culture

Archaeology
(Owens Valley Paiute, Tubatulabal, Western Mono, Yokuts)


The archaeology of Sequoia Park will naturally be very meager, having little more than occasional arrow points, bedrock mortars, and possibly a few potsherds and pictographs.

In the lower foothills bordering the San Joaquin valley, however, are a large number of painted rocks or pictographs which are of great interest. Similar ones undoubtedly occur in Sequoia Park although they have not as yet been reported. It is unfortunate that some governmental or state agency has not seen fit to provide for the security of some of these groups, as they are rapidly disappearing, thanks to the work of the elements and vandals.

A great many of this type have been recorded. (See Steward, 1929; 110-139, figs. 39 to 70, pls. 52, 55, 56.) These figures are painted and comprise queer anthropoids, insects and animals. Their purpose and meaning are unknown, though there is slight reason to believe that they have some connection with shamanism. The present rapid rate of weathering indicates that they cannot be very old and therefore must have been made by the Yokuts or Western Mono of the region.

On the opposite side of the Sierra in Owens Valley, painted pictures are scarce; instead there occurs a large variety of petroglyphs or pecked designs which include elaborate but unintelligible curvilinear figures and many animals, such as mountain sheep and other quadrupeds. There is considerable evidence that points to great antiquity for these, and it is not unlikely that most of them, if not all, antedate the present Paiute inhabitants of the region.

It is probable that the Sequoia museum has or will come into the possession of some archaeological objects of the kinds that are exhumed from the ground. As most of these originate in the San Joaquin valley, which is relatively rich archaeologically, this would take us somewhat afield. There is no reason, however, why these should not find a place in the museum, for many of them are representative of certain highly specialized California types of specimens.

The usual word of warning must be uttered in this connection, however. An archaeological specimen is worthless unless it bears ample data concerning its provenience. To purchase specimens which lack ample data for the catalogue is highly inadvisable, for it is not only a waste of money, but encourages professional collectors and unskilled amateurs to exploit our archaeological resources. This is the greatest menace that American archaeology has to face, for every year thousands of sites are destroyed by such people beyond the possibility of discovering anything of scientific importance.

Archaeological specimens from the San Joaquin valley may be of Yokuts origin. To say this positively at the present time, is however, impossible, as sufficient investigation has not been carried on in the region to determine whether or not there had been a succession of peoples or cultures. This subject has been treated by Gifford and Schenek, 1928, who have a large number of illustrations and plates. Recent investigations in the vicinity of Taft by the Smithsonian Institute may contribute something to our knowledge of this subject.

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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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