Miwok people

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For the ultrarunning race, see Miwok 100k Trail Race.
Miwok people
group = Miwok People
Total population
1770: over 11,000
1910: 670
1930: 491
current: 3,500[1]
Regions with significant populations
California: Sierra Nevada Mountains, Central Valley, Marin County, Sonoma County, Lake County, Contra Costa County
Languages
Utian languages:
Miwok family
Religion
Shamanism: Kuksu
Miwok mythology
Related ethnic groups

Subgroups:

Miwok (also spelled Miwuk, Mi-Wuk, or Me-Wuk) can refer to any one of four linguistically related groups of Native Americans, indigenous to Northern California, who traditionally spoke one of the Miwokan languages in the Utian family. The word Miwok means people in their native language.

In 2008, ancient artifacts related to Miwok ancestors were unearthed in Calaveras County, some 5000 years old. Many of the artifacts will be reburied with a special ceremony. The Miwok believe the artifacts belong to the land.[2]

Subgroups[edit]

Anthropologists commonly divide the Miwok into four geographically and culturally diverse ethnic subgroups. These distinctions were unknown among the Miwok before European contact.[3]

Federally recognized tribes[edit]

The United States Bureau of Indian Affairs officially recognizes eleven tribes of Miwok descent in California. They are as follows:

Non-federally recognized tribes[edit]

  • Miwok Tribe of the El Dorado Rancheria
  • Nashville-Eldorado Miwok Tribe
  • Colfax-Todds Valley Consolidated Tribe of the Colfax Rancheria
  • Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation
  • Calaveras Band of Mi-Wuk Indians
  • Miwok of Buena Vista Rancheria[12]

Culture[edit]

Benjamin Barry (Miwok), World War II veteran and fire chief in parade dress[13]

The Miwok lived in small bands without centralized political authority before contact with European Americans in 1769. They had domesticated dogs and cultivated tobacco, but were otherwise hunter-gatherers.

Cuisine[edit]

The Sierra Miwok preferentially exploited acorns from the California Black Oak, Quercus kelloggii; in fact, the modern-day extent of the California Black Oak forests in some areas of Yosemite National Park is partially due to preferential cultivation by Miwok tribes. They burned understory vegetation to reduce the fraction of Ponderosa Pine.[14] Nearly every other kind of edible vegetable matter was exploited as a food source, including bulbs, seeds, and fungi. Animals were hunted with arrows, clubs or snares, depending on the species and the situation. Grasshoppers were a highly prized food source, as were mussels for those groups adjacent to the Stanislaus River.

The Miwok ate meals according to appetite rather than at regular times. They stored food for later consumption, primarily in flat-bottomed baskets.

Religion[edit]

Miwok mythology and narratives tend to be similar to those of other natives of Northern California. Miwok had totem animals, identified with one of two moieties, which were in turn associated respectively with land and water. These totem animals were not thought of as literal ancestors of humans, but rather as predecessors.[15]

Sports[edit]

Miwok men and women played athletic games on a 110 yard playing field called poscoi a we’a. A unique game was played with young men and women on separate teams. Similarly to soccer, the object was to put an elk hide ball through the goalpost. The girls were allowed to do anything, including kicking the ball and picking it up and running with it. The boys were only allowed to use their feet, but if a girl was holding the ball he could pick her up and carry her towards his goal.[16]

Population[edit]

In 1770, there were an estimated 500 Lake Miwok, 1,500 Coast Miwok, and 9,000 Plains and Sierra Miwok, totaling about 11,000 people, according to historian Alfred L. Kroeber, although this may be a serious undercount; for example, he did not identify the Bay Miwok.[15] The 1910 Census reported only 671 Miwok total, and the 1930 Census, 491. See history of each Miwok group for more information.[17] Today there are about 3,500 Miwok in total.[1]

Influences on popular culture[edit]

The Ewok, a fictional species of forest-dwelling creatures featured in the Star Wars films, are named after the Miwok.[18] The Miwok people are encountered in Kim Stanley Robinson's book, The Years of Rice and Salt.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Miwok", California Indians and Reservations, San Diego State University, Library, accessed 30 Jun 2010
  2. ^ "Ancient Artifacts Found At Construction Site", CBS 13 Retrieved: April 26, 2008
  3. ^ Eugene L. Conrotto (1973). Miwok Means People: The Life and Fate of the Native Inhabitants of the California Gold Rush Country. Fresno, Calif.: Valley Publishers. p. 4. ISBN 0-913548-13-8. 
  4. ^ "Buena Vista Rancheria - Me-Wuk Indians". Buenavistatribe.com. Retrieved 2013-02-15. 
  5. ^ "California Valley Miwok Tribe (CVMT GovPortal) - Official Website of the California Valley Miwok Tribe". Californiavalleymiwoktribe-nsn.gov. Retrieved 2013-02-15. 
  6. ^ "California Valley Miwok Tribe (CVMT WebPortal)". Californiavalleymiwoktribe.us. Retrieved 2013-02-15. 
  7. ^ "Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria". Gratonrancheria.com. Retrieved 2013-02-15. 
  8. ^ "Ione Band of Miwok Indians". Ionemiwok.org. Retrieved 2013-02-15. 
  9. ^ See this notice dated Tuesday, August 11, 2009 from the United States Department of the Interior's Bureau of Indian Affairs Agency entitled "Indian Entities Recognized and Eligible To Receive Services From the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs" (Federal Register Vol. 74, No. 153). The "Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, Shingle Springs Rancheria (Verona Tract)" is a single federally recognized Tribe.
  10. ^ "Welcome — United Auburn Indian Community". Auburnrancheria.com. Retrieved 2013-02-15. 
  11. ^ "Wilton Rancheria Announces Restoration of Status as Federally Recognized Indian Tribe", Sacramento Business Journal
  12. ^ "Donations - Organization by Miwok of Buena Vista Rancheria". Miwokofbuenavistarancheria.webs.com. Retrieved 2013-12-28. 
  13. ^ "Benjamin Barry." The Union. 15 Sept 2010. Retrieved 10 Jan 2012.
  14. ^ C. Michael Hogan (2008) Quercus kelloggii, Globaltwitcher.com, ed. Nicklas Stromberg
  15. ^ a b Kroeber, 1925, p. 456
  16. ^ "Indian Grinding Rock SHP - The Rock and the People"". California Department of Parks and Recreation. 
  17. ^ Cook, 1976, pages 236-245.
  18. ^ By ERIC P. NASHPublished: January 26, 1997 (1997-01-26). "NYtimes.com". NYtimes.com. Retrieved 2013-02-15. 

References[edit]

  • Access Genealogy: Indian Tribal records, Miwok Indian Tribe. Retrieved on 2006-08-01. Main source of "authenticated village" names and locations.
  • Barrett, S.A. and Gifford, E.W. Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region. Yosemite Association, Yosemite National Park, California, 1933. ISBN 0-939666-12-X
  • Cook, Sherburne. The Conflict Between the California Indian and White Civilization. Berkeley and Los Angeles, CA: University of California Press, 1976. ISBN 0-520-03143-1.
  • Kroeber, Alfred L. 1925. Handbook of the Indians of California. Washington, D.C: Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 78. (Chapter 30, The Miwok); available at Yosemite Online Library.
  • Silliman, Stephen. Lost Laborers in Colonial California, Native Americans and the Archaeology of Rancho Petaluma. Tucson, AZ: University of Arizona Press, 2004. ISBN 0-8165-2381-9.
  • Miwok Bibliography

External links[edit]