Friday, May 2, 2014

Book Review: Yokut: Native Americans by Barbara A. Gray-Kanatiiosh

Book Review: Yokut: Native Americans by Barbara A. Gray-Kanatiiosh, ABDO Publishing, Edina, MN, 2004.
This is a brief description of the Yokut Indians; which I find interesting as these are the native Americans who first inhabited the area where I now live.  In fact most of the San Joaquin Valley from the Mount Diablo Mountains to the Sierra Nevada foothills.  They were originally in 50 bands, but mostly in three distinct groups: Northern Valley, Southern Valley and Foothill Yokut.
They were known for their basketry kills.  They wove baskets so tight they would hold water.  Some were used to cook soup.  A hot rock from the fire would be placed in the basket to cook the soup.  Often they would make acorn soup.  The baskets would also e used to protect their children in times of flood.  They baby would be placed inside so he floated on top of the flood.
During the time the reigned the valley, there were many oak trees in the valley.  There were also tule bushes.  These bushes would be woven together to make a covering for their conical dwellings.  They would also make a ramada (a covered edifice with no walls to provide shade in the summer) with a frame and brush.  The tule would also be used to construct tule canoes with which they could travel on the river. 
After the Spanish came to the area, Cucunuchi went to stay at the missions.  They gave him a new name, Chief Estanislao.  He became disaffected with mission life, and took a group back to their native land.  He defeated two military expeditions sent to bring him back.  General Mariano Vallejo brought cannon to fight the Native Americans.  Vallejo claimed victory, but still the Indian people did not return to the mission.  (This battle took place close to Ripon.  I assume Stanislaus River and county get their names from Chief Estanislao. 
Today there are about 2000 Yokut remaining.  Their numbers were reduced by disease, as well as murder at the hands of white settlers.  They have one reservation and three rancherias in the Lemoore and Fresno areas.  This is an interested, albeit brief look at this group of people.

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