FOUR DIRECTIONS INSTITUTE

Central California Macro-Culture

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
COLORADO RIVER
GREAT BASIN
NORTHWESTERN CALIFORNIA
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
 
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Ethnies Cahto, Coast Yuki, Costanoan, Huchnom, Maidu, Mattole, Miwok, Pomo, Wailaki, Wintu, Yanan Tribes, Yokuts, Yuki (some southern Athapaskan ethnies displayed some Kuksu cultural traits)
Transitional ethnies Achomawi, Atsugewi, Esselen, Kawaiisu, Salinan, Tubatulabl
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Shared Elements
Economy Mostly capitalistic
Government Village communities with chief
Shamanism Male rattlesnake and bear shamans, both with divine power
Marriage Informal with bride price or gifts
Ceremonies Kuksu dance cycle, girl puberty, mourning anniversary, shaman rites
Creation Story Motif Great flood, creature dives for soil and others specific to ethnies
Basketry Coiled
Primary food Acorns
Taboos Killed twins, sometimes the mother

The population of the Central California macro-culture was comprised mostly of the Penutian language stock.  Macro-Penutians ranged from the armpit of Alaska south to central Chile and include such famous ethnies as the Chinook, Mayans, and Nez Perce.  The Central Californians were, nonetheless distinctly Californian making them distinctly different from their aforementioned distant relatives.  

This in itself is quite curious.  The Central California ethnies, without question, knew about corn, beans, and squash, and lived in a region with arable soil and adequate water for their growth but remained hunter/gathers, relying on acorns, and salmon in some areas, as their primary diet.  The Yokuts in the southernmost of the Central California territories traded with Mojave and Yuman farmers of the Colorado River region, but apparently not for seed.

The creation stories of the Central California macro-cultures suggest further evidence of their broad cultural exposure.  The great flood motif spanned the continent as a motif for numerous cultures.  Their belief that the place of the dead was far to the west was shared with ethnies that spanned the continent as well.

Inter-village contact was as great among the Central California macro-cultures as it was among the Southern Californians.  This promoted peace, trade, and mutual aid.  It was their mostly capitalistic economy, Rattlesnake and Bear shamans, and creation beliefs that distinguished them from the Southern Californians.

The adherents to the Central California macro-culture were by the the largest population of California and suffered enormously from the loss land to settlers, genocide of prospectors, settlers, the Mexican and California militaries, and pollution of the streams and rivers by mining operations.