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Mojave River Valley Museum
Mojave Desert Indians -
Uto-Aztecan is younger than Hokan or Penutian. Research indicates that Uto-Azetcan began to
diversify in California after Hokan and Penutian were present, but before all of the Penutian
languages achieved their later prehistoric distribution. Uto-Azetecans first entered California
earlier than circa 2000 BC.
Language: Shoshonean [Takic]
Identified Shelters: Rectangular floor structures with flat roofs made of mesquite posts and beams, and wormwood shoots, mesquite bark, leaves, and earth for the roof
Cultural Notes: They once numbered as many as 10,000 in the 17th century.
Identified Shelters: Dome-shaped structures made of sapling poles joined at the center, and thatched with brush
Food: Corn, beans, pumpkin and melon; mountain sheep, deer, rabbit
Cultural Notes: They were once nomadic; they fought and intermarried with their nearest neighbors, the Mohave.
Identified Shelters: Large, multi-family structures covered with tule
Food: Acorn, pine nuts, berries, deer, fish, small game
Food: Acorn, Manzanita berries, pine nuts, yucca, deer, rabbit
Language: Takic branch of Uto-Aztecan
Cultural Notes: They were once sedentary hunter-gatherers. Serrano is Spanish for "mountaineer", but they called themselves Yuharetum, which means "people of the pines."
Paiute(Northern Paiute)(Mono Paiute/ Kutzadikaa) (Owens Paiute)
Language: Northern Paiutes spoke a Shoshonean dialect; Southern Paiutes spoke Numic
Identified Shelters: Small, circular structures covered with tule rushes
Food: Corn, squash, pumpkin, melon, beans, sunflowers, blueberries, elderberries, currants, wild strawberries, deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, small game.
Cultural Notes: The origin of the word Mono (pronounced “mo-no,” unlike “ma-no,” the Greek word for one) is uncertain. Like so many Native American words in common use today its meaning is not well documented. The most accepted theory is that Mono is a Yokut word for “fly eater.” The Yokut people were native to the western Sierra Nevada slopes above present-day Fresno, some 200 miles from the Mono Basin. How did the word Mono travel to this region? Perhaps the word was first used to describe the Southern Paiute in the Owens Valley who also harvested alkali fly pupae. The Kutzadika’a people do not have Mono in their language and history does not offer a clear explanation of its origin.
Identified Shelter: Semi-subterranean, cone-shaped structures with a connecting pole framework, covered with pine needles
Food: Pine nuts, Mesquite beans, elk, buffalo, bighorn sheep
Cultural Notes: They were once hunter-gatherers.
Cultural Notes: The word Tataviam means "people facing the sun" and decribes the Tataviam's villages.
Indentified Shelters: Semi-subterranean, cone-shaped structures with a connecting pole framework, covered with pine needles
Food: Acorn, pine nuts, deer, fish, manzanita berries, gooseberries, seeds, mushrooms
Other Uto-Aztecan Tribes
* Moratto, Michael, California Archaeology, Academic Press, Inc., 1984
Source - State of California