W1 California Discussion


1) In your opinion, what are three things that make California stand out from the other 49 states?  
2) According to your textbook chapter and week #1 PowerPoints, who were the California natives? For example: tribes, customs, language, etc. 
Summary of Week #1

California’s land mass, climates, and other physical features were shaped largely by Pacific forces, and these features profoundly influenced the state’s subsequent human history. The earliest human inhabitants migrated from Asia’s Pacific Rim in watercraft and afoot, and lived mainly in coastal areas, adapting their cultures – especially their foods, dress, and tool-making – to a hospitable marine environment. This was less true, naturally, for tribes living in the interior regions, though trade between coastal and hinterland Indians remained brisk throughout most of the pre-European contact period.
California’s tribes were severely provincial, as evidenced by the scores of languages and hundreds of dialects they spoke, making communication between these linguistic groups extremely difficult.
Anthropologists give the physically healthy California Indians high marks not only for living in an ecologically sustainable manner, but also for their artistry, especially seen in their basketry and petroglyphs.
Alfred L. Kroeber, an early researcher of California’s native peoples, attained a national reputation and helped shape the field of his expertise throughout most of the twentieth century. Among all of California’s Indian groups, the Chumash developed the most advanced maritime culture, based on a trade network that extended in many directions beyond the present boundaries

f the state. In addition, their economy embraced a Greater California.

Aside from Paleo-Indian seafarers, California may have been visited by Polynesian and Chinese Pacific-crossers centuries before the arrival of Europeans in the province. Much more evidence, however, will be needed to substantiate the likelihood of Polynesian and Chinese transpacific visits to California before the arrival of Europeans in the 1500s.

Saving the Bay – Cultivating an Abundant San Francisco 
BayChumash Story: The Rainbow Bridge

Reply 1
1). I would say that the first fact that makes California stand out is our population. Out of the 14 counties that are in Southern California, it is bigger than Illinois, Iowa, Alabama and six New England states which I find crazy. The second thing that makes California stand out is our natural disasters, particularly earthquakes and the San Andreas Fault System that spans 780 miles. The third is our seasons or weather patterns. I think California is relatively warm all year, especially towards Southern California. Living in Northern California I have always enjoyed the seasons and weather which is balanced.

2). After reading pages 1-20 and looking at the map of California which showed what tribe occupied each part of California, one of the native tribes was the Chumash tribe which were located on the coast of Southern California. This tribe created houses using poles pulled up together to form a semicircle and bound at the top to secure it. Chief Solano of the Suisunes had his followers learn the Spanish language from the missionaries. The Shasta tribe in the upper part of Northern California and the Pomo Tribe also in Northern California consumed crushed acorns with salmon and nuts as nutrition. These tribes also ate boiled green leaves and roasted roots as food which were native to California. Penutians was also another language that was spoken by Native Americans.The Hupa tribe occupied the northwest part of California. Indian customs in California included ball games and guessing games which were popular.

Reply 2
1) three qualities that make California stand out include its geographic diversity, abundance of resources and population size. As stated in the book, California has some of the most varied geological features within a state. California’s biomes range from chaparral to desert to coniferous forest, making for a great variety of resources. Lumber, oil, and gold have been extracted for profit and new sustainable technology has also taken off in this state, such as wind and solar energy.
2) The California natives are people who are indigenous to this land, and despite colonization are still practicing their cultures and traditions today. According to the book, these tribes consist of many different tribelets, and there would often be great dialectic variation even in neighboring communities. Prior to colonization, these tribes had organized societies that had roles for the man and woman, ceremonial practices involving song and dance, and a trade system among other tribes. These tribes used all of their surrounding resources to produce the food, shelter, tools and clothing they used in their lifestyle. Also prior to colonization, Native peoples would use herbal medicine practices for any sickness, it wasn’t until the arrival of Europeans that Native peoples would endure mass population decline due to illness.

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The Original Californians
• Archaeologists estimate that human beings
have been living in California for at least
12,000 years – and, perhaps for 15,000 years
or more
• By the time of the first European contact in
the 16th century, native people were living in
each of the diverse regions of California
Native Peoples of California at Time of First European Contact, c. 1542
Food & Population
• Coinciding with the seasonal availability of specific
resources, the native people followed annual rounds
of hunting and gathering
• The greatest staple was the acorn, which because of
its high fat content has a higher caloric value than
• Deer and small game were generally available.
Insects were a widely accepted source of
• Fish were abundant in the streams, notably salmon
in the northwest. Fish and meat were often dried
• The California Indians were remarkably skilled
in basket making
• The hunting and fishing were done mainly by
men, the gathering of plant foods and the
cooking by women. Work activities, however,
occasionally overlapped.
A Pomo gift basket, decorated with shell disks and covered with
yellow, green, blue, white, and red feathers in a geometric design
Agriculture and Trade in Native America, c. 1450
Aspects of Material Culture
• Homes were generally simple, poles and brush
were the most common building materials
• The sweathouse was a distinctive institution,
and its use was generally confined to men
• The most common type of boat was the tule
balsa, a raft made of reeds bound into a
boatlike shape
• California Native Americans dresscode
Interior of a sweathouse in central California
A Hupa woman with shell
necklace, apron, and
basket hat.
Photo was taken near the
Klamath River in the early
Location, Linguistic Groups, Tribes
• Most California Indians lived in settled villages
of about 100 to 500 inhabitants, usually
groups of kindred families
• Variety of languages = language barriers
• Trade routes crisscrossed California –
exchange of good was common
• California tribes consisted of several
independent units, “tribelets”
In front of this typical Mono winter shelter is an assortment
of burden-baskets and winnowing trays. These were the
utensils used by the inhabitants of this home
Social Culture
• Six major geographically distinct culture areas
– southern, northwestern, northeastern,
Great Basin, and Colorado River culture areas
• California Indians generally were peaceable &
unaggressive yet viewed one another with
• Wars were not uncommon
• Social Classes hardly existed
• The family was by far the most important
social institution and, in general, a highly
effective one
• Marriage was a formal and honored
institution that established a lifelong
relationship of mutual commitment; divorce
was often difficult and prostitution was
• Women played an essential role in all native
• Religious leadership was combined with the
medical profession in the person of the
shaman, who was believed to be in direct
communication with the supernatural world
• California Indians believed that all of nature
was interconnected and was suffused with a
sacred power
• The California Indians had no system of
writing, beyond the use of designs and
symbols in decoration of rocks
Hupa female shaman from
northwestern California
Hupa Indian in ceremonial white
deerskin dance costume
The artist of this work
is unknown. The
Painted Cave is found
in Santa Barbara
The meaning of these
abstract Chumash
designs is unknown
today; they may
represent spirits or
ideas associated with
religious ritual
California’s Distinctiveness
• The state offers virtually every climatic,
geologic, and botanical combination
• California ranks third in size, but first in
• The length of California is 824 miles while its
width reaches 252 miles
• California remains the nation’s top agricultural
• More than half of the state’s residents live in
southern California, most of the raw materials
& 90% of the fresh water is in northern
• California is known for its unique vegetation
such as its giant sequoias
• California is home to 400 species of mammals
and 600 varieties of birds
• California has few natural harbors
• Continuous earth tremors have altered
Climatic variations in California are greater than in any
comparable area in the United States
The major landform provinces of
California. The most striking
characteristic of California
geography is its diversity
• The San Andreas Fault cuts
through California from Imperial
County in the south to Mendocino
County in the north
• Where streams cross the San
Andreas, as here in the Carrizo
Plain, their beds have been
abruptly displaced by lateral
movements along the fault

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