Miwok hunters used bows and arrows and snares. Miwok fishermen used nets and spears. Miwok warriors usually fired arrows at their enemies.
One of the tools that the Miwok used was a giant stone with holes. They used the stone to grind acorns into flour. Miwoks used rocks to crush things for food and supplies. One of the tools that the Miwok used was a bow and arrow.
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.
Today there are about 3,500 Miwok in total.
The Bay Miwok believed totally in the power of animal spirits and the spirits of each other. They worshipped animals as ancestors, imitated them in dance, and told myths about them. In many stories Coyote was honored as their wisest, funniest, and trickiest. Coyote was the Creator of all the Miwok family of mankind.
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.
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 also made ‘ule’, a jelled loaf of thick acorn mush. Pounding rocks or bedrock mortar are ideal for pounding acorns. Shallow mortar holes, like the ones shown in the picture, were preferred for processing black oak acorns, while deeper holes were used for manzanita berries.
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.
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.
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.
The Miwok caught salmon and sturgeon from the rivers and streams and collected clams and mussels from the sea-shore. The Miwok also hunted deer and elk in the mountains and valleys.
The easterly Plains Miwok lived along the rivers in the Lower Sonoran zone, the westerly in the Upper Sonoran of the Delta, chiefly regions of hot summer Mediterranean climate.
As with other tribes of California Indians, the Maidu ate seeds and acorns and hunted elk, deer, bears, rabbits, ducks, and geese; they also fished for salmon, lamprey eel, and other river life.