Mojave River Valley Museum
(Owens Valley Paiute,
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.
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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.
Desert Indian Culture
Introduction & Overview
Weapons, Houses, Clothing
Musical Instruments & Misc.
Other Social Customs