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Achumawi

Material Culture

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The Achumawi produced baskets from grasses for cooking, storage and transporting goods; they also made basket traps used in minnow fishing. Baskets were made using the TWINE METHOD. Nets and cordage were fashioned from milkweed fibers. Nets were stretched across flyways to trap birds, while gill and dip nets were used in fishing (Olmstead and Stewart 228). Tule was used to make "floor and house covering. 'Tule stalks were strung together on cords to form mats, which were used for seat pads and mattresses, and for covers of anything that required protection from sun or rain... The summer habitation was a conical or hemispherical...tipi covered with tule mats'" (Olmstead and Stewart 227). The women's menstrual huts were similar to the summer tule tipis, but were used year round (Olmstead and Stewart 227).

Achumawi basket courtesy of the California Indian Library Collections
Achumawi Basket
Courtesy of the California Indian Library Collections

Angulo reported that clothing was almost non-existent (Achumawi Sketches 84). However, later ethnographic research make references to the use of elk and deer hides for robes, moccasins of deer and badger skins, capes made of deer and badger hides, robes fashioned from elk, bear, and deer skins; caps made of antelope, deer, and badger; deer skins were also used for leggings, belts, skirts, dresses; and coyote skins were also utilized in clothing. Elk hide was also used in the making of armor and shields. Both shoes and cloaks were fashioned from tule fibers (Olmstead and Stewart 227-228).

Achumawi basket courtesy of the California Indian Library Collections
Achumawi Basket
Courtesy of the California Indian Library Collections

Canoes were used in those areas suitable for water travel. The canoes were made by using fire to hollow out pine logs; pumice stone was used to finish the dugouts. Obsidian was the preferred material used in manufacture of arrowheads, knives, spear points, and scrapers. Arrowheads were sometimes tipped with rattlesnake venom (Olmstead and Stewart 229). Musical instruments were limited to flutes, antelope hoof rattles, clap-sticks, and drums (Angulo, Achumawi Sketches 82; Olmstead and Stewart 228).

Achumawi basket courtesy of the California Indian Library Collections
Achumawi Basket
Courtesy of the California Indian Library Collections

 

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