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Serrano Indians

Trade, Exchange, Storage

The Serrano stored such foodstuffs as acorns, mesquite beans, screw beans, and other storable foods in large basketry containers sometimes mounted on poles out of doors. Other foodstuffs, such as dried meats, small seeds, and fruit, were stored in basket or ceramic containers inside their houses, along with other supplies (Bean and Smith 1978).

Their principal trading partners were the Mojave to the east and the Gabrielino to the west, but they also traded with their close neighbors, the Cahuillas and Chemehuevi. They constituted, in fact, a major nexus in a trade and exchange system that brought goods (and later, horses) from the Southwest to the coast. The finding of obsidian coming from long distance, i.e. Obsidian Butte and the coastal volcanic field (Warren and Schneider 2001: MS-ii) shows that people living in area now set aside as the Joshua Tree National Park had both direct and indirect contact with peoples many hundreds of miles away, both in the southwest and northeast directions. They would have gone from the coast to inland Arizona, probably to Nevada, and north of the Mojave Desert, as well.

Material goods, shells, sacred regalia (feathers and the like), were favored materials (Bean and Vane 1978).

Trade and exchange occurred informally between family members, at trade feasts, social events, and ceremonial occasions (Bean field notes 1958-1970).

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Trade Networks

Trade networks would keep goods flowing between tribes that may typically have been enemies. For example; the Mojave and Cahuilla did not seem to have good relations between them and did not trust each other (Kroeber). The Serrano and Vanyume being related to each other affected such a social relationship. The Mojave would trade with the Vanyume of the desert. The Vanyume would exchange with their mountain cousins, and the Serrano would trade with the Cahuilla. By these interactions items from the Cahuilla may have reached the Mojave camps, and Mojave trade goods may have reached the Cahuilla.

Cahuilla Trade

Since virtually all humans live in some kind of society and have at least a few possessions, reciprocity is common ...

Mojave Trade

The Mojaves traded regularly with the Serranos and the Chumash, with whom they were on terms of special amity

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