Miwok people didn’t wear much clothing. Miwok men generally went naked, and Miwok women wore only short grass skirts. In mountain villages, though, women sometimes wore buckskin dresses instead and the men wore leggings and deerskin shirts.
Today there are about 3,500 Miwok in total.
They ate plants, seeds, berries, fish and animal meats. They usually crushed acorns. They made acorn bread, acorn soup, and acorn flour. They used acorn flour to make bread and sometimes, they just ate acorn flour.
Their traditional houses, called “kotcha”, were constructed with slabs of tule grass or redwood bark in a cone-shaped form. Miwok people are skilled at basketry.
Beliefs. The Miwok had an animistic philosophy: they wanted no walls and trod lightly on the land, leaving no footsteps, always apologizing to the spirits in animals or nature whenever they disturbed them in whatever fashion. Their oral history was transmitted through the stories of the elders and shamans.
The Miwok people were decimated by the diseases brought by the invaders and subjected to atrocities. Following the short-lived Mariposa Indian War (1850) those who survived were forced on to various reservations.
According to Miwok mythology, the people believed in animal and human spirits, and spoke of animal spirits as their ancestors. Coyote in many tales figures as their ancestor, creator god, and a trickster god. The Miwok mythology is similar to other Native American myths of Northern California.
Trade was an important part of life to the Coast Miwok. They traded fish and shells for hides. The Coast Miwok traded for stone and made it into tools and arrowheads. Some tribes had craftsmen to make tools made of wood and blades out of obsidian.
Traditionally, the groups near and on the coast—the Coast, Lake, and Bay Miwok —gathered acorns, fished, and hunted deer and other game with bow and arrow. They lived in semisubterranean pole- and earth-covered lodges and produced watertight basketry ornamented with beads or feathers.
Dancing was very important to the Miwoks, both socially and also as part of their religion. Each tribe had its own “dance house”. The Miwoks often danced while wearing costumes made from animal skin.
The Miwok Indians reside in north-central California, from the coast to the west slope of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. There are three divisions of the tribe — the Coast Miwok, the Lake Miwok, and the Sierra Miwok.
All Miwok twined baskets, other than cradles, in the University’s collection, have reinforcing willow hoops sewed to their rims. There are no delicate and beautiful twined baskets.
The Miwok community lived in dome and conical shaped homes. Theses structures were then covered with redwood boards (called ‘kotcha’) or grass or tule (called ‘kaawul kotcha’). The grass houses had a willow frame covered with bundled grass and a tule mat or animal hide was used for the flap door leading into the house.
The Hupas lived in rectangular cedar -plank houses with pitched roofs and chimneys. Usually these buildings were large and an extended family lived in each one. Here are some pictures of Native American homes like the ones Hupa Indians used. Today, most Hupas live in modern houses and apartment buildings, just like you.
The animals around were the main source of material clothing the Miwok got from the wild. The animals had skin and fur which was great for making clothing like blanket, capes, aprons, belts, and bags.