The most characteristic Yokuts dwelling was the mat-covered communal house inhabited by 10 families or more. In addition, they erected flat roofs on poles for shade. Clothing was simple: men wore loincloths or went naked, and women wore fringed aprons front and back.
Their main food was acorns. The Yokuts also ate wild plants, roots, and berries. They hunted deer, rabbits, prairie dogs, and other small mammals and birds.
The Yokut lived in California in the San Joaquin Valley and along the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. According to Evelyn Wolfson: “A species of bullrush, called tule, filled the marshland and supplied the Yokut with material for covering their houses, making clothes, and weaving baskets.
The Yokuts believed in a variety of localized spirits, some of whom were potentially evil. Religious Practitioners. Part-time religious specialists, or shamans, with powers derived from visions or dreams cured the sick and conducted public rituals and celebrations.
The Yokuts were reduced by around 93% between 1850 and 1900, with many of the survivors being forced into indentured servitude sanctioned by the California State Act for the Government and Protection of Indians. An estimated 600 Yokuts are said to belong to unrecognized tribes.
The Yokuts burned wild seed plant areas to improve the following year’s crop. Trade Yokuts Indians traded widely with peoples of different habitats. Southern Valley people imported obsidian for arrowheads and sharp tools, stone mortars and pestles, wooden mortars, and marine shells for money and decoration.
Yokuts in American English 1. a member of a group of small Native American tribes speaking related dialects and occupying the San Joaquin Valley of California and the adjoining eastern foothill regions. Nearly all the Valley Yokuts are extinct; some foothill groups remain.
|Native speakers||Unknown 20–25 fluent and semispeakers (Golla 2007)|
|Language family||Yok-Utian Yokuts|
|Dialects||Palewyami † Buena Vista † Tule–Kaweah Gashowu † Kings River † Valley Yokuts|
Yokuts traditional narratives include myths, legends, tales, and oral histories preserved by the Yokuts people of the San Joaquin Valley and southern Sierra Nevada foothills of central California.
Weapons. The bow among the Yokuts took two forms, the self bow and the sinew-backed bow, both made of mountain cedar. Houses. Apparently several types of shelters were built by the hill Yokuts adjoining Sequoia Park. Clothing. Yokuts men wrapped a deer skin around their loins or went naked.
“Yo’-kuts Tule Lodges” from Contributions to North American Ethnology, Volume III.
The hunting of waterfowl, such as geese and ducks, was also of major importance. The subsistence pattern of the Southern Valley Yokuts focused on lake and river fishing with nets, basket traps, and spears, hunting waterfowl from tule rafts, and gathering shellfish and tule roots.
The Yurok Tribe is currently the largest group of Native Americans in the state of California, with 6357 enrolled members living in or around the reservation.
“The original inhabitants of what is now the Three Rivers area were the Yokuts. Preparing food was women’s work. The women gathered acorns from the oak trees, ground them, rinsed and leached them in the baskets in the river. Drying on the granite rocks and storage followed.
Hockey or shinney. Varieties of this were played on both sides of the Sierra, the Yokuts using a ball (see illustration in Culin, fig. 811.) the Paiute using a rag or ball, and both peoples using a kind of primitive shinney or lacrosse stick.