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Field Division of Education
Indian Tribes of Sequoia National Park Region
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A species of Nicotiana, which was probably not cultivated, was smoked by the tribes of the western slope of the Sierra. The pipe employed was always tubular, generally being a few inches long, of pottery (see illustrations of Western Mono pipes in Gayton, 1929, pl. 102, and description, p. 246) made in a manner similar to pottery vessels. The Yokuts (Kroeber, 1925:538 and plate 30-c,d) and the Owens Valley Paiute pottery pipes (Steward, 1933:268, 319-320, and plate 4, a-c) resemble those of the Western Mono. Wooden tubular pipes were probably used occasionally by all these people (for Yokuts type see Kroeber, 1925, plate 30-c, d; for Northfork Mono, see Gifford, 1932: plate 15-c,e) while stone (steatite) pipes were less common, probably being employed more often by the shaman. Another form of pipe common to these people is a section of cane. (Kroeber, 1925:538, 836-7.)

In addition to smoking, tobacco was chewed with lime by the Tubatulabal (Kroeber, 1925:608) and the Yokuts (ibid., 538.) Tobacco decocted in water was occasionally drunk by the Yokuts (Kroeber, 1925:538) though this may have been semi-religious. The Owens Valley Paiute semi-cultivated Nicotiana attenuata Torr. which was generally smoked by men and chewed by women mixed with burned shells or ashes. (Steward, 1933:319-320.)

Consumption of tobacco among all these people was moderate. It had a number of ceremonial purposes, being used, for instance, by the shaman.


The Yokuts basket for crossing streams has been mentioned under basketry. They, the Tubatulabal and the Owens Valley Paiute used a tule "balsa", (See Kroeber, 1925:531, 608 for details of this among Yokuts and Tubatulabal, and Steward, 1933:258, for the Owens Valley people.)

Neither dogs nor any other animals were used in native times for transportation. Human carriers among the Yokuts employed the carrying net into which the conical basket or other load could be set. (For an excellent photo of this, see Gifford, 1932, plate 7-b.) Also burdens were carried on the back, a pack strap or tumpline of braided string of milkweed (Asclepias) being slung across the forehead. (Kroeber, 1925: 533-534.) The Owens Valley people used a piece of fish or rabbit net for a carrying net; also a tumpline braided of Amsonia brevifolia Gray or made of buckskin. (For an illustration of this on the conical basket see Steward, 1933: plate 8-b.) The Western Mono used straps of buckskin or braided Fremontica californica Torr., or Cercocarpus betulifolius inner bark and a net woven of milkweed (Asclepias speciosa Torr.) and a species of Gomphorcarpus (Steward, 1933:258; Gifford, 1932:28).


Owens Valley people traded with the Western Mono and Tubatulabal and occasionally went as far as the Yokuts. They carried, according to their own accounts, pinenuts, larvae of flies (Ephydra hians Say.) breeding in the salt lake, caterpillars (Coloradia pandora Blake), from the mountains, baskets, red and white paint, and salt. To this list, the western people add tanned deerskins. In exchange they received shell bead money, acorns, manzanita and sow berries, and elderberries, according to their own accounts, while according to the western people they also received baskets and rabbit skin blankets. (Steward, 1933:259-260; Gayton, 1930:59.) The more important trans-Sierran routes will be found in Steward, 1933, map 2, and described on pp. 329-330. This includes trails passing through the present Sequoia National Park.

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