The Maidu was an interesting tribe that lived in and around the Sierra Nevada Mountains.  How they lived depended on the change in season.  The changes created additional change on what their tools were, what they ate, what they wore, and what they lived in.   An example is that the Maidu lived in bark homes in the winter, and lived in brush homes in summer and spring.

In The Adventures of Pearley Monroe, in chapters 17 and 18, Pearley and his sister, Cordelia, got help from a Maidu tribe.  The Maidu helped Pearley and Cordelia get out of a cavern in which they were lost.   While Pearley and his sister were with the Maidu, they saw what the Maidu ate, wore, and the homes that they lived in.
- Trevor, Ashley,  Oscar, and Maddox


HUNTING TOOLS                           

The Maidu used many tools for hunting. One of the tools is a bow and arrow. A bow and arrow is a ranged hunting tool that is commonly used for hunting elk and deer. The bow is made with  a strong, slightly bent stick that has string tied to the two ends of the stick. The arrow is made from a small, sturdy stick (1 foot height) with a sharp obsidian arrowhead obtained from trade. Lastly the Maidu attached a bird feather to the end of the stick. The bow and arrow was the most common hunting tool.   

A tomahawk is an axe that is used for hunting also. The Maidu made tomahawks out of a tomahawk tree, which is a sapling with two branches that can be put together.  They must chop down the tree to make the perfect handle. Then they need a large rock and a stone so they can sharpen the stone on the large rock. Then they combine those parts by twisted oak bark used as string and tie the parts together and make a tomahawk!  Those are the tools the Maidu used for hunting.




Like many other Indian tribes, the Maidu were very dependent on what was available in nature for their source of food.  They were gatherers, hunters, and fishermen.  They lived off the land.  For their source of protein, they hunted large game animals such as deer, elk, black bears, and mountain sheep.  In addition, they caught small animals like squirrels, raccoons, birds, rabbits, and a great amount of fish.   The Maidu captured them with traps, nets, arrows, and snares.  Worms and insects such as yellow-jacket larvae, grasshoppers, locusts, and crickets supplemented and added varieties to the protein that they ate.   Even though the Maidu had access to many animals as food, there were certain animals that they would not eat.   They would not eat birds of prey such as eagles and owls.  In addition, they rarely hunted coyotes and grizzly bears which were greatly feared by the Maidu people.  For fruits and nuts, they gathered berries, such as strawberries, black berries, Manzanita berries, grapes, wild plums and nuts such as pine and hazel nuts.   The Maidu's valleys and hills were also abundant with grass seeds, roots such as wild onions and balsamroot, clover, miner's lettuce, and many other plants which provided a nutritious and tasty array of vegetables. 

The most important staple food of the Maidu were the acorns.  Not only were they nutritious and plentiful; acorns were easy to store.  Therefore acorns can be used during seasons when other foods were scarce.   A process called leaching was used to remove the bitter tannic acid from the acorns before they could be eaten.  One method of leaching was as follows : The first step was to shell the acorns and grind the meat into meal between two stones.  Then, the meal would be placed in a leaf lined hole in the ground. Finally, water was poured onto the meal multiple times.  The water would then flow away, taking the bitter tannic acid away with it little by little.   No matter the season, California's fertile habitat provided Maidu a rich variety of food for their diet.



Maidu wore minimal clothes in the summer. Sometimes the men even ran off naked. Young children wore no clothing except in the cold winter months. If they didn’t run off naked, they wore loin clothes made of leather or tule grass. In the snow the Maidu wore grass filled moccasins for travel. Moccasins were the Maidu shoes that were a thin piece of leather. To keep them warm, they wore a deer, puma, or rabbit skin blanket, or a pair of skins sewn together.  Women often wore two shredded bark aprons. The front apron was smaller and tucked between the legs when they sat down. Feathers were placed around the bottom of their skirts. To make a robe, skins were cut into uncured strips a half inch or more wide. They dried and they curled and left the soft hair side exposed. The strips were then tied into a long line. This was wound back and forth between two small poles formed out of shape strips of hide. This continued double weaving was made, and knitted to the outer parts. The finished blanket was thick soft and warm, while the hide strips gave it durability.



The Maidu built sunken dome-shaped earth or tule covered homes with a diameter of 10-15 feet. They built the houses in the spring when the ground was soft and moist. Then from there they could dig down to a depth of about 4 feet. The Maidu would then take bark and earth covered poles and then form the frame of the house. In the village there was a ceremonial house that was made the same way. Several families shared a house. Sweathouses, where men talked, sang and sweated away their concerns, were in large villages. The large villages included about 500 people. Acorn granaries and ceremonial dance houses, with a diameter of 50 feet, were common.

The Maidu placed their villages on high points. The reason why the villages were on high points is so that they could spot people coming in advance. Also, it prevented floods from destroying the villages. Fresh water was important too. The Maidu set up villages near fresh, running water.