FOUR DIRECTIONS INSTITUTE

California Great Basin Macro-Culture

CENTRAL CALIFORNIA
COLORADO RIVER
GREAT BASIN
NORTHWESTERN CALIFORNIA
SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA
 
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Ethnies Koso, Modoc, Northern Paiute, Southern Paiute, Washoe, Western Shoshoni in California.  The Great Basin and these ethnies stretched into eastern Oregon, Nevada, northern Arizona, and southern Idaho.
Transitional Ethnies Achomawi, Atsugewi, Tubatulabl
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Shared Elements
Economy Communal
Government Hereditary chiefs
Housing Rough wickiups, lean-tos
Marriage Informal
Ceremonies Bear dance
Creation Story Motif Coyote father
Basketry Excellent twining and open-stitch coiling
Primary Foods Foraging
Disposition Mostly timid except for Northern Paiute and Modoc

 

     The ethnies of the California Great Basin culture were semi-sedentary in only a few cases and for the most part nomadic.  Individual bands often claimed rough territories, but most were not really owners.  Most were poor foragers derogatorily termed as "diggers."  Some Southern Paiutes in their southernmost territories of Utah, Arizona, and Nevada farmed.
     The Great Basin is arid territory which required its inhabitants to have a keen knowledge of its ecology if they were to survive, and these ethnies did.  They spent their travels in small family groups coming together only for the annual Bear Dance.  Their small group numbers meant they had to avoid early explorers and pioneers.  As a result, little contact was made with them until late in history.  They suffered greatly from livestock destroying their food sources.