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Field Division of Education
Indian Tribes of Sequoia National Park Region
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Social Organization

The matter of social organization will remain of little importance or interest until means are found to publish descriptive pamphlets of these tribes. Even then, it should await the accessibility of more complete data on the Tubatulabal and Western Mono.

The Yokuts and Western Mono in general were organized in exogamous and patrilineal societies which cut completely across tribal groupings, and each tribe comprised totemic patrilineal families. Curiously, the Yaudanchi and Yauelmani Yokuts seem to have lacked the moieties, but the Western Mono (at least some of them) possessed totemic moieties. As the totems of social groups are animals and birds, the list would be of considerable interest if available. (See Gayton, 1930-a; Kroeber, 1925:493-496.) The Tubatulabal seem to have lacked any moiety or clan organization, but the catching and rearing of young eagles practised by them is a ceremony carried on by the tribes nearer the valley in connection with moiety ceremonialism, while the association of certain birds with the eagle and of lizards, vermin, etc., with Coyote suggests the totemic associations of moieties elsewhere. (Kroeber, 1925:605-610.) The Owens Valley Paiute lacked even a vestige of clan, moiety, or totemism, having only more or less patrilinear and patrilocal families, thus typifying the Great Basin.

Each Yokuts and Western Mono village had a chief and it is probable that each tribe had one. This was fixed by heredity, passing to the son or a daughter if a son were lacking. A chief of personality and judgment might extend his influence over neighboring groups, but there is no reason to believe that leagues of Yokuts tribes were ever formed. Each chief was supposed to have two heralds whose position was also hereditary. In addition to these, there was an official clown and transvestite. (Kroeber, 1925:496-7.) (For a detailed description of political organization and the shaman's place in it among the Yokuts and Western Mono, see Gayton, 1930-a.)

Tubatulabal chieftainship, like the Yokuts, descended in the male line, the incumbent selecting a son with the approval of the community. Lacking a son, a daughter was chosen. Wealth was of some importance. (Kroeber, 1925:609.)

In Owens Valley each tribe of Paiute had its headman, the position tending definitely to be patrilineal, but passing out of the family if suitable successors were lacking. Each village also had its leader. But the system of chief's herald, clown and transvestite were lacking (Steward, 1933:304-5). Thus, there is again greater simplicity.


It is possible that some Yokuts or Owens Valley Paiute money will find its way to a museum collection. This, among the Yokuts, will generally be strings of shell discs, measured, as described by Kroeber, 1925:498, around the hand, or possibly cylinders from the columellae of univalves or from clams.

As all these shells originated on the coast, only the discs seem to have reached Owens Valley, where the measure of money was a somewhat similar turn around the. hand. (Steward, 1933:258.)

Other Social Customs

Other social customs such as marriage, birth, naming, etc., will be found described in Kroeber, 1925:492-499 and Steward, 1933:278-305. There is little point in giving these data here as they are scarcely adapted at present to museum representation. When the time is ripe to interpret them to museum visitors through pamphlets, it is hoped that fuller data on the Western Mono, Tubatulabal and Yokuts will have been published.

In order, however, to allay any misapprehension on the subject of war it may be said that the California tribes were in general very peaceable, the tribes in question here being no exceptions, Squabbles did occur, but warfare never become a great pursuit as among other tribes in the east, noteably, those in the Plains. There seems to have been no scalp ceremony or victory dance among the peoples on either side of the Sierra. In fact, the very idea of taking a scalp was scarcely known. (Kroeber, 1925:497-8; Steward, 1933:306.)

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