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.
Adventures of Pearley Monroe, in chapters 17 and 18, Pearley
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,
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
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
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,