Northern Coastal Natives

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This is a house.
This is a house.
In the northern coast of California, there were several tribes of Indians. These California Indian groups were the Pomo, Wiyot, Yurok, Hupa, and Karuk. All of these Natives used many natural resources that were available. One of the sources was animals like elk, fish, and deer. Elk antlers were used for tools and coin purses. Natives used fish for food and shells, such as dentalium and clamshells, for jewelry and trade items. Indians depended on their resources to survive.

Reeds, tule, hazel sticks, willow sticks, pine, and myrtle were some plants that the Native Americans used to make baskets. There were many purposes for baskets like cooking, household use, storage, and carrying and transporting. Most were made by women, but the Pomo and the Miwok men made baskets, too. The two ways of making baskets were the twined and coiled methods. The Hupa and Yuroks used twined baskets. The Chumash and Yokuts made the coiled baskets. Baskets were used for many different tasks.

For transportation, the Indians made dugout canoes. They were about 18 to 24 feet long, and it often took a year or two to construct. The materials they used were pine, cedar, redwood, and fir logs. Most tribes used these canoes, but some other tribes used large baskets guided by swimmers. Dugout canoes and basket were good options to travel through water.

Berries, nut, fruit, fish, acorns, sea lions, elk, squirrels, rabbits, salmon, and shellfish were the kinds of food the Northern coastal Indians ate. The Yurok’s main food was salmon. They held a celebration each year, and the leader or shaman ate the first salmon of the season. Acorn was another important kind of food. Pomos trimmed trees to make the tree produce more acorns and nuts. There were many varieties of food that Indians ate.

Shelter was important for Indians. Their homes varied because they had to use resources that were available. For example, the Yuroks built plank homes because wood was plentiful in the area in which they lived. The Pomos made cone shaped houses with bark lined on the poles. There were unique homes that these tribes made.

(Charles November 18, 2008)

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