A Compendium of Useful Information for the Practical Man/Indian Lore

Contents edit

Some of the Medicinal and Edible Plants of Southern California edit

Southern California Quarterly, Volume 5 By Historical Society of Southern California, Los Angeles County Pioneers of Southern California

Plants used by the Indians of Mendocino County, California edit

Plants used by the Indians of Mendocino County, California By Victor King Chesnut

The ethno-botany of the Coahuilla Indians of Southern California edit

The ethno-botany of the Coahuilla Indians of Southern California ... By David Prescott Barrows

The Luisenos Indians edit

Also known as the Mission Indians. Among other areas, they occupied Southern California.

Plants used by the Luisenos Indians edit

Compositae. Sunflower Family.

Ambrosia artemisiaefolia. Pachavut. Used as an emetic.

Artemisia dracunuloides. Wachisb. The seeds are used for food. The plant is used for medicinal purposes.

Artemisia heterophylla. Pakoshish. Mugwort. Small boys' arrows are sometimes made from this plant, and it is also used medicinally.

Carduus, species unknown. Chochawish. Thistle. Used as greens. The bads are also eaten raw.

Layia (or Blepharipappus) glandulosa. Solisal. Tidy-tips. The seeds are used for food.

Malacothrix Californica. Makiyal. The seeds are used for food.

Sonchus asper. Posi'kana. Sow thistle. Used for greens.

Helianthus annuus. Paukla. Wild sunflower. The seeds are used for food.

Pluehea borealis. Hangla. Arrow weed. Arrows are sometimes made from this plant. It was also formerly used to roof houses with.

Heterotheca grandifiora. Humut. The mainshafts of arrows are sometimes made from the tall stems of this plant.

Chrysoma (Bigelovia) Parishii. Sanmikut. The seeds are used for food. This plant is much used for medicinal purposes. Sanmikut kawingwish, literally, sanmikut of the mountain, is the name of a glutinous-leaved variety of the preceding. Its seeds are also used for food, and the plant itself medicinally.

Baccharis Douglasii. Morwaxpish. A decoction of the leaves is used to bathe sores and wounds. The wood of this shrub was that mostly used for drilling fire.

Cucurbitaceae. Gourd Family.

Cucurbita foetidissima. Wild squash. The seeds are used for food. The fruit is used when ripe as a substitute for soap.

Echinocystis macrocarpa. Enwish. Spanish, chilieothe. A purgative is made from the roots. The seeds are used in the manufacture of a red paint.

Caprifoliaceae. Honeysuckle Family.

Sambucus glauca. Kutpat. Elderberry. The fruit is much used for food, both fresh and dried. The wood is esteemed for making bows. The flowers are sometimes used as a remedy for female complaints. Cahuilla, hunkwat.

Orobanchaceae. Broom Rape Family. Orobanche tuberosa. Mashal. Cancer root. The roots are used for food.

Scrophulariaceae. Figwort Family. Adenostegia (or Cordylanthus). Yumayut. Used as an emetic.

Solanaceae. Nightshade Family.

Nicotiana, species unknown. Pavivut. Formerly used as tobacco. Cahuilla, pivat-isil, coyote tobacco, Nicotiana attenuata.

Datura meteloides. Naktomush. Jimson-weed, thorn-apple; Spanish, toloache. The juice of the root was formerly used at the boys' puberty ceremony to induce stupefaction in the novices. Cahuilla, kikisowiL

Solanum Douglasii. Takovshish. Black nightshade. The leaves are used for greens. The juice of the berries is used for inflamed eyes, and also formerly used for tattooing.

Labiatae. Mint Family.

Monardella lanceolata. Huvawut. A tea is made from this plant which is used both medicinally and as a beverage.

Salvia carduacea. Palit. Thistle sage. The seeds are used for food.

Salvia columbariae. Pashal. Spanish, chia. The seeds are much esteemed for food. Cahuilla, pasal. .

Micromeria Douglasii. Huvaumal. Yerba buena. A tea is made from this plant which is used partly as a beverage and partly as a medicine.

Ramona stachyoides. Kanavut. Black sage. The seeds are used for food.

Ramona (Audibertia) polystachya. Kashil. White sage. The tops of the stems when tender are peeled and eaten uncooked. The seeds are eaten.

Cactaceae. Cactus Family.

Opuntia. Navut. This is the general name for the numerous species of the prickly-pear cactus with flat joints. The fruit is eaten both fresh and dried. The seeds are ground into meal and used for food. Cahuilla, navit; the fruit, navityuluku.

Mutal. A cactus with cylindrical stems. Cholla. Seeds used for food. Cahuilla, mutal; the seeds, wial.

Hydrophyllaceae. Phacelia Family. Eriodictyon Parryi. Atovikut. Used for medicinal purposes. Eriodictyon tomentosum or crassifolium. Palwut. Spanish, Yerba santa. Much valued for medicinal purposes.

Phacelia ramosissima. Sikimona. Used for greens.

Polemoniaceae. Gilia Family. Gilia staminea. Chachwomal. The seeds are used for food.

Asclepiadaceae. Milkweed Family.

Asclepias eriocarpa. Tokmut. Milkweed. A string fiber is obtained from the stems. A chewing gum is made from the sap which exudes from the stems when cut. Cahuilla, Asclepias erosa, keat; Asclepias sp., wichsal; chewing gum, chiles.

PhUibertia heterophylla. Towunla. It is used for food, being eaten raw with salt.

Apocynaceae. Dogbane Family.

Apocynum cannabinum. Wicha. Indian hemp, dogbane. A string fiber is obtained from the bark. Cahuilla wish is Phragmites communis, also used for string.

Gentianaceae. Gentian Family.

Erythraea venusta. Ashoshkit. Spanish, Canchalagua. Tea made from this is used as a remedy for fever.

Ericaceae. Heather Family.

Arctostaphylos Parryi. Kolul. Manzanita. The pulp of the berries is ground and used for food. Cahuilla, fruit of A. glauca, tatuka.

Umbelliferae. Parsley Family.

Apium graveolens. Pa'kil. Common celery. Probably not native. Used for greens.

Deweya arguta. Kaiyat. The root is much esteemed for medicinal purposes.

Violaceae. Violet Family. Viola pedunculatu Ashla. Violet. The leaves are used as greens.

Malvaceae. Mallow Family.

Sidalcea malvaeflora. Pashangal. Wild hollyhock. Used as greens. Mui!tif-lniin sp. Kaukat. A decoction of the leaves is used as an emetic.

Vitaceae. Grape-vine Family.

Vitis girdiana. Makwit. Wild grape-vine. The fruit is cooked and used for food.

Anacardiaceae. Sumach Family.

Rhus trilobata. Shoval. Sumach, squaw bush, Indian lemonade. From this shrub are obtained the splints that are used to wrap the coil in Luiseno baskets. The berries are ground and used for food. A seed-fan for beating the seeds off plants is made from the twigs of this shrub. Cahuilla, the berry, selittoi.

Rutaceae. Rue Family. Cneoridium dumosum. Navish. Used for medicine.

Euphorbiaceae. Spurge Family.

Croton Calif orcinus. Shuikawut. Said to be used to procure abortion. Euphorbia polycarpa. Kenbamal. Spanish, Yerba golondrina. Reputed to be beneficial in the case of rattlesnake bites.

Leguminosae. Pea Family.

Psoralea orbicularis. Shi'kal. Used for greens.

Psoralea macrostachya. Pi'mukvul. A yellow dye is made from the roots of this plant; also a medicine for ulcers and sores.

Lotus strigosus. Tovinal. Used for greens.

Lupinus sp. Mawut. Used for greens.

Trifolium ciliolatum. Mukalwut. Eaten both cooked and raw. The seeds are also used.

Trifolium gracilentum. Ke'kesh. It is eaten both cooked and raw.

Trifolium microcephalum. Pehevi. It is eaten cooked.

Trifolium tridentatum. Chokat. Eaten both cooked and raw. The seeds are also used.

Trifolium obtusiflorum. Shoo'kut. It is eaten cooked.

Prosopis juliflora. Ela. Mesquite. The beans are ground into meal and used for food to a limited extent in some localities. Cahuilla, Prosopis pubeseem, mesquite screw, kwinyal.

Rosaceae. Rose Family.

Adenostoma fasciculatum. U'ut. Cbamisal. Foreshafts of arrows are made of this shrub. A gum, the deposit of a scale-insect, is also obtained from it. Cahuilla, oot.

Hi'lni* parviflorus. Pavlash. Thimbleberry. The fruit is eaten.

Halm.-; vitifolius. Pikwlax. Wild blackberry. The fruit is eaten. The juice of the berries is sometimes used to stain articles made of wood.

Prunus demissa. Atut. The fruit is eaten. Cahuilla, the fruit, atut.

Cerasus (Prunus) ilicifolia. Chamish. Spanish, Islaya. The fruit is eaten. The kernels are ground into flour and used for food. Cahuilla, chamish.

Heteromeles arbutifolia. Achawut. Toyon, Christmas berry. The berries are used for food.

Saxifragaceae. Saxifrage Family.

Ribes indecorum or malvaceum. Kawa'wal. The root is used to cure toothache.

Ribes speciosum.

Crajsulaceae. Stonecrop Family.

IIh-Hi ini (Cotyledon). Topnal. Hen-and-chickens. The juice of the leaves is used.

Cruciferae. Mustard Family.

Brassica nigra. No Luiseuo name. Black mustard. Probably not native. Much used for greens.

Lepidium nitidum. Pakil. Peppergrass. The seeds are used for food. The leaves are also used as greens.

Nasturtium officinale. No Luiseno name. Water-cress. Used for greens.

Papaveraceae. Poppy Family.

Eschscholtzia Californica. Ataushanut. California poppy. The leaves are used for greens. The flowers are chewed with chewing gum.

Ficoideae. Carpet-weed or Fig-marigold Family. Mesembryanthemum aeqwilaterale. Panavut. Fig marigold. The fruit is eaten.

Portulacaccae. Purslane Family.

Portulaca oleracea. Pokut. Common purslane. Used for greens. Calandrinia caulescens. Puchakla. Red Maids. Used when tender for greens. The seeds are also used for food.

Montia perfoliata. Towish popa'kwa. Indian lettuce. Used for greens and also eaten raw.

Nyctaginaceae. Four-o'clock Family.

Mirabilis Californica. Nanukvish or tisi. A decoction of the leaves is used as a purgative.

Chenopodiaceae. Pigweed Family.

Chenopodium album. Ket. Lamb's quarter, pigweed. The leaves are used for greens.

Chenopodium Californicum. Kahawut. Soap plant. The root is used for soap. The seeds are used for food. Cahuilla, kehawut.

Saururaceac. Lizard-tail Family.

Houttuynia (Anemopsis) California. Chevnash. Spanish, Yerba Mansa. A decoction of the root is used internally and externally.

Polygonaceae. Buckwheat Family.

Rumex, species unknown. Ipelwut. Dock. A decoction of the root is used medicinally.

Urticaceae. Nettle Family.

Vrtica holosericea. Shakishla. Stinging nettle. A fiber is obtained from this, but is not much esteemed.

Cupuliferae. Oak Family.

Quercus Californica. Kwila. Black oak, Kellogg's oak. The acorns of this oak are more esteemed for food than those of any other species.

Quercus chrysolepsis. Wiat. Valparaiso oak, drooping live oak, golden cup oak. Acorns esteemed for food, though not so much as those of Quercus agrifolia and Californica. A gambling toy is made from the large acorncups of this oak.

Quercus dumosa. Pawish. Acorns little esteemed for food. The gallnuts are used to doctor sores and wounds. They are said to possess powerfully astringent properties. Cahuilla, the acorn, kwinyil.

Quercus Engelmanni. Tovashal. White oak. Acorns little esteemed for food. From a deposit made on this oak by a scale insect a chewing gum is obtained. A fungus growing on its decayed wood was formerly used for tinder, when fire was kindled with flint and steel.

Quercus agrifolia. Wiashal. Live oak, red oak, field oak, encina. Acorns esteemed for food, though not so much as those of Quercus Californica.

Quercus Wislizeni. I'mushla. Acorns little esteemed for food.

Saiicaceae. Willow Family.

Populus Fremonti (probably). Avahut. Cottonwood. Inner bark formerly used to make apron-like garment worn behind by women. Salix sp. Willow. Wood much used for making bows.

Iridaceae. Iris Family.

Sisyrinchium bellum. Patumkut. Blue-eyed grass. A purgative is made from the roots.

Liliaceae. Lily Family.

Bloomeria aurea. Kawichhal. The bulb is eaten.

Brodiaea capitata. Tokapish. Wild hyacinth. The bulb is eaten.

Chlorogalum parviflorum. Kenut. The bulb is eaten.

Chlorogalum pomeridianum. The fibers covering the bulb are used to make a brush.

Yucca Mohavensis. Hunuvut. The flowers are boiled and eaten. The pods are roasted and eaten. The fiber of this plant is little used by the Luisenos. Cahuilla, hunuvut; the fruit, ninyil.

Yucca Whipplei. Panal. Spanish bayonet or Spanish dagger. The head is used for food. The flowers are boiled and eaten. The scape or stalk is also used for food. Cahuilla, the stalk, panuul; the seed-bags, wawal.

Juncacea#. Rush Family.

Juncus Mertensianus. Pivut. An openwork basket is made from this rush. It is used for gathering acorns, cactus, etc. Another basket made from it is used to cook acorn meal, and another is used as a sieve.

Juncus sp. Shoila, The lower part of this rush furnishes the brown color seen in Luiseno baskets. A mat is also made from it in which articles used at religious ceremonies are kept by the religious chief of the clan. Cahuilla, seil.

Cyperaceae. Sedge Family.

Scirpus sp. Pevesash. Bulrush, tule. The tender young shoots are eaten raw.

Gramineae. Grass Family.

Avena fatua. Arus or Urus. Wild oats. The seed is ground into flour and used for food.

Bromus maximus. Woshhat. The seeds are used for food.

Elymus condensatus. Huikish. The mainshafts of arrows are made from this plant. Cahnilla, pahankis.

Epicampes. rigens Californica. Yulalish. The body of the coil of Luiseno baskets is composed of this grass. Cahuilla, Cinna macroura (synonym), suuL


Pellaea ornithopus. Wikunmal. Tea fern, bird-claw tern. A decoction of the fronds is used medicinally, and also as a beverage by people who are not ill.

Woodwardia radicans (probably). Mashla. Brake fern. A decoction of the root is used both externally and internally to relieve pain from injuries to the body.

Shakapish. Tree mushroom. Much esteemed for food when growing on cottonwood and willow trees.

A mission record of the California Indians: from a manuscript in ..., Volume 8 By Alfred Louis Kroeber, José Francisco de Paula Señán, Vicente Francisco Sarría

Vegetable Food of the Luisenos Indians edit

The Luisenos had a great variety of food, though to a casual observer the district they inhabit appears to be, for the most part, of a semi-desert character, especially in the latter half of the year.

The winter and spring rains cause numerous annual plants to grow, and many of these are used as greens, being either boiled or eaten fresh with salt.

The seeds of many plants are also used, besides numerous fruits and berries. Seeds are always parched, this being effected by placing them in a broken piece of pottery, or a vessel made for that purpose, and toasting them over the fire, stirring them to prevent burning. Formerly they were often parched by being placed in a basket with live coals, and shaken until they were sufficiently cooked. After being parched, seeds are pounded into flour in a mortar. When required for use, this flour is mixed with water to form a mush, which is eaten cold.

The staple food of the Luisenos, as of so many California Indians, was acorns. At least six species of oaks are found in Luiseno territory. The acorn considered by far the most palatable is that of the black or Kellogg's oak, Quercug Californica. This begins to be found at an elevation of about three thousand feet, and is abundant on Palomar.

Next to the black oak the acorns of the common live oak, red oak, or field oak, Qiwrcus agrifolia, are most esteemed. This tree is found from the coast to over three thousand feet above sea level. The acorns of this species contain more oil than those of the black oak, and the meal ground from them is of a yellow color.

Quercus chrysolepsis, usually called the maul or Valparaiso oak, grows on Palomar in the canons at a somewhat lower elevation than the black oak. Its acorns, which are the largest and hardest of any of the oaks, are also considered to be palatable, though difficult to grind, and are gathered when those of the two species first mentioned fail.

The acorns of the white oak, Quercus Engelmanni, the live oak, Quercus Wislizeni, and the scrub oak, Quercus dumosa, are not at all esteemed, and are only used when other acorns cannot be obtained.

Until quite recently large quantities of acorns were gathered and stored away in acorn granaries. When required they were taken from the granary, placed one by one on a stone, and struck with another stone with sufficient force to crack the hulls. They were then placed in the sun, which caused the hulls to break open, after which these were removed from the acorn with a bone tool, maavish.

Afterwards the acorns were pounded into flour in a mortar, a stone pestle being used for this purpose. The meal is leached with hot water to take out the bitterness. This is sometimes accomplished by placing it in a rush basket and pouring warm water over it; at other times by placing it in a hole made in sand, and then pouring warm water over it, the water soaking away through the sand. The leached meal is afterwards cooked in an earthen vessel.

The importance attached to acorns as food is shown by the fact that large pines were often cut down merely for the sake of the acorns stored in the bark by the woodpeckers.

The kernel of a wild fruit, a kind of plum or cherry, Cerasus or Primus ilicifolia, was formerly used to some extent as food. The fruit was spread in the sun until thoroughly dried, when the shells were cracked and the kernels extracted. These were ground into flour which was leached and cooked in exactly the same manner as acorn meal. This flower is almost as white as that made from wheat. The pulp of the fruit is also eaten, but it is exceedingly thin, though not unpleasant to the taste. This fruit grows but sparingly in the San Luis Eey basin, but large quantities grow in the hills and canons around Cahuilla valley, where it was formerly an important article of food.

Choke cherries are much liked, notwithstanding their puckery taste. They are considered to improve by being kept for a few days after being gathered.

The berries of the toyon or Christmas berry, Heteromeles or Photinia arbutifolia, are used as food, being parched and eaten without further preparation.

The berries of several species of gooseberries, currants, and blackberries were eaten, but these grow but sparingly, and were not an important article of food.

Elderberries grow in great abundance in some parts of the San Luis Rey valley. They are much liked, and were formerly gathered in large quantities and dried, besides being cooked and eaten when fresh.

Wild grapes, which abound in the San Luis Rey valley, are cooked and eaten, but they were never dried and preserved like elderberries.

There are several species of prickly pear cactus, the fruit of some of which is much esteemed, while that of others is not. It is eaten fresh, and was formerly peeled, dried in the sun, and stored away for future use, being eaten without being cooked. The seeds were saved, parched, ground into meal, mixed with water in the usual manner, and used as food. The seeds of the cactus known as "cholla" were also used.

The berries of the aromatic sumac, Rhus trilobata, were ground into meal and used as food, as were manzanita berries. The pulp only of the latter, but the entire berry of the sumac, was used. Neither of these kinds of berries were parched before being ground, nor was the meal afterwards cooked, but simply mixed with water and eaten.

The bulbs of several plants of the lily family were used as food. They were mostly eaten fresh, but were sometimes cooked. The edible ground-mushroom is little esteemed, but the tree mushrooms that grow on cottonwood and willow trees are still a favorite article of food. Care is taken to gather them when tender. They are prepared for food by boiling.

The scape or stalk of Yucca Whipplei, which grows quite abundantly in many localities on the hillsides, is roasted and eaten, as also was formerly the head of the plant, which was prepared for food by roasting in an earth oven.

By earth oven is meant a pit dug in the ground, in which stones are placed, and a fire built, which is kept up until the stones are well heated, when the article to be cooked is placed among them and covered over with earth.

The blossoms of both Yucca Whipplei and Yucca Mohavensis are eaten, being cooked in water.

The pods of Yucca Mohavensis are also eaten, being prepared by roasting in the coals.

The fresh tender shoots of the white sage are peeled and eaten raw. The fresh shoots of a large rush were also eaten raw formerly.

Mesquite trees are somewhat plentiful in parts of Luiseno territory, but not in the San Luis Rey valley, so the flour of mesquite beans is not an article of food here, though it is occasionally brought for sale from other localities.

Of the plants used as greens the most esteemed now-a-days is wild mustard, though this is probably an introduced plant, as it has no Luiseno name. It is the earliest food plant of the year.

Watercress and wild celery are both cooked, but not eaten fresh.

Several species of wild clover are eaten both fresh and cooked. Lamb's quarter, Indian lettuce, the leaves of the California poppy, peppergrass, and a great many other plants are boiled for greens.

Wild oats formerly were a favorite article of food. They were stripped with the hands from the stalk while standing, afterwards parched together with the husks, and pounded into meal in the usual manner. A favorite food is said to have been composed of oatmeal and dried elderberries, mixed with a little ground chia, the latter being probably used for seasoning.

The seeds of chia, the Spanish name of Salvia columbariae, seem to be more esteemed than any other. Others much used are those of the white and black sages, the thistle sage, the soapplant Chenopodium Californicum, peppergrass, and several Compositae. Some of the seeds used are so excessively small and difficult to collect that it seems probable they were more used by way of seasoning than for their actual food value.

An edible gum is obtained from the white oak, Quercus Engelmanni; this is the deposit of a scale-insect. After being gathered it is carefully washed to remove its bitter taste, and is then ready for chewing. It is used exactly as chewing gum.

Another gum is obtained from the milkweed, Asclepias eriocarpa. The sap of this plant, which runs out freely when the stems are cut, is collected and boiled in water until it coagulates. It is then ready for use as chewing gum, and is much esteemed, but is not as lasting as that of the white oak.

A mission record of the California Indians: from a manuscript in ..., Volume 8 By Alfred Louis Kroeber, José Francisco de Paula Señán, Vicente Francisco Sarría

Flesh and Hunting of the Luisenos Indians edit

The largest game animal was the black-tail deer, formerly very abundant and still found. They were formerly hunted with bow and arrow, and were also, it is said, taken in snares.

Those who hunted with bow and arrow sometimes used a stuffed deer head with the antlers attached. This they fastened on their head, and on seeing a deer, would slowly approach it, lowering and raising, or bobbing the deer head from side to side. In this manner they often approached sufficiently near to the deer to kill it. The snare was made by placing a running noose in a deer trail, so that the animal would entangle its feet in it. The noose being fastened to a pole which was bent over and lightly fastened to the ground, the struggles of the deer would loosen it; it would then fly back and leave the animal suspended in the air.

There is a place where deer were once said to have been killed by being driven over a precipice, at the foot of which they would be found dead; but it is also said that after a time it was impossible to drive them over it, as they would double back in spite of every effort to prevent them.

Venison was cooked by broiling on hot coals, also in the earth oven, and sometimes, though less often, by boiling in water. When cooked in the earth oven it was sometimes pounded up finely in a mortar, and stored away for future use. The entrails and blood of deer were both used.

In some parts of the territory occupied by the Luisenos antelopes were formerly abundant, notably between Temecula and San Jacinto, but the last were killed about twenty years or more ago. It is said there never were any in the upper San Luis Rey valley.

It is doubtful if much large game was ever killed by the Luisenos with their crude weapons. The principal animal food probably always consisted of jackrabbits and rabbits, which are still the chief game animals. But an exception must be made of the people who lived permanently on the coast, whose chief flesh diet was fish and mussels.

Now-a-days jackrabbits and rabbits are either killed with a shotgun or small caliber rifle, or hunted on horseback with sticks two and a half or three feet long.

Formerly these animals were hunted with bows and arrows, or trapped by draw nets and snares placed in their runs. They were also driven into a long net stretched across a suitable place, a number of Indians assembling for the purpose.

They were also killed with a flat, curved stick, wakut, which has erroneously been spoken of as a boomerang. Formerly when an Indian went to the field he carried one of these sticks in addition to his bow and arrows. If he saw a rabbit or other animal that he wished to kill standing, he shot at it with the bow; if it was running, he threw the stick at it.

There are two kinds of rabbits, the cottontail and a smaller, darker one weighing only a little more than a pound when full grown.

Rabbits and jackrabbits were usually cooked by broiling on hot coals. They were also sometimes cooked in the earth oven. Sometimes, after being cooked in the latter manner, their flesh, together with the bones, was pounded up in a mortar, and either eaten at once or stored away for future use.

A wood rat is much liked. This animal builds a nest of small sticks, sometimes quite large, in the brush or undergrowth, in the cactus, and occasionally in trees. In hunting it the nests are often set on fire to drive it out, one, or rarely two, being found in each nest. Usually the nest is overturned, and the rats killed with bows and arrows or sticks. Numbers are sometimes killed after a flood has driven them out of their nests in the undergrowth along the river. Several other kinds of rats were formerly used as food, as well as ground squirrels and different kinds of mice. These animals were often trapped. Two flat stones were taken. On the lower one an acorn was placed on end, the upper stone resting on it, so that when the acorn was gnawed through by an animal the stone would fall and kill it. Since only small animals could get between the stones when baited in the above manner, for larger ones, as wood rats and ground squirrels, a short stick was placed on top of the acorns. This made room for them to crawl between the stones and reach the bait.

Tree squirrels were not eaten. Neither were wild pigeons nor doves until quite recently, the latter from superstitious motives. The valley quail, found in great numbers in the San Luis Rey valley and adjacent country, even to the summit of Palomar, have always been eaten. They were formerly killed with the bow, and were also hunted at night with fire, dry stems of the cholla cactus being set on fire and used to attract them; when they flew towards the light they were knocked down with sticks. During a prolonged period of cold rainy weather they become chilled so that they cannot fly far; when in that condition they were formerly sometimes run down by boys. Mountain quail were also eaten. Rats, mice, quails, and squirrels were cooked by broiling on coals.

Ducks, formerly plentiful, were killed with the bow or with the throwing stick. Mudhens were not eaten. Larks and robins and the eggs of ducks and quails were eaten.

Bears were formerly quite common on Palomar, and also in Bear valley. They were occasionally killed, but their flesh was never eaten. Their skins and claws were saved, the latter being used to make necklaces. A stone was erected wherever a bear or mountain lion was killed.

Before a hunt a fire was sometimes built of white sage and Artemisia Californica. The hunters stood around this and in the smoke, the belief being that this absolved them from any breach of social observances they might have committed, which would otherwise bring them ill luck.

Grasshoppers have always been abundant in the San Jose valley, this being one of the localities in which they hatch. They were formerly eaten by the Indians who lived there, and sometimes by others. The manner of taking them was by digging a pit, which was surrounded at a distance by Indians with boughs, who drove them from all sides into the pit. This was of course before they had reached the flying stage of their existence. A fire was built upon them and they were killed and roasted at the same time. They are said to have been eaten without any further preparation.

A large green grub was eaten. It was boiled in water and eaten with salt.

Clothing of the Luisenos Indians edit

The chief article of clothing was a cape-like garment of fur covering the upper part of the body and reaching almost to the knees, but this was probably only worn in the coldest weather. During most of the year the men are said to have worn no clothing at all. The capes were sometimes made of rabbit skins, cut nto strips and woven with a woof of twine. Others were made of deer-skins, and some of sea-otter skins. These latter were the most highly prized, but were not common, except perhaps on the coast.

Another article of dress was an apron, pishkwut, generally of net-work, made from the twine obtained from dogbane, Apocynum canndbinum, or the milkweed, Asclepias eriocarpa. Another apron, shehevish, was made of the inner bark of willow or cottonwood. This was worn behind, while the apron of network was worn in front. Both these aprons were worn exclusively by women, who never went entirely unclothed.

A basket hat of coiled ware was worn by women, especially when they had a burden to carry, when it was used to protect the forehead, the cord of the carrying net resting on it. Men might also use this basket hat when they had a burden to carry. Another covering for the head was woven from rushes; this was used in the same manner as the coiled basket hat.

Shelters of the Luisenos Indians edit

The primitive house was of a conical form. A circular pit was dug in the earth, perhaps two feet deep. Some crotched poles were then set in the ground with the tops placed together, no king-pole being used. Other smaller poles were then leaned against these and the whole covered with brush so as to shed the rain. An opening was left at one side as an entrance. There was also an opening left at the top for the smoke to escape. When the weather was fine, cooking was performed out of doors; at other times a fire was built in the center of the house. During cool nights a fire was also built in the center, and around this the inmates slept, with their feet towards it. A house built partly underground in this manner requires but little fire to warm it. Sometimes the entrance was through a covered way extending some distance, through which one crawled on hands and knees to enter. In the mountains the poles of the house were covered with cedar bark instead of brush, and on the coast large rushes or sedges were used to cover the pole framework. Often the house was built without any pit, especially if it was only intended for temporary or casual use.

Costanso, in his report of the expedition of 1769, speaks of the Indians of San Diego as living in "shelters of boughs and huts of a pyramidal shape covered with earth," and of those of the Santa Barbara channel as having houses "of a spherical form in the fashion of a half orange, covered with rushes, with the hearth in the middle, and in the top of the house a vent or chimney to give exit for the smoke." As the former of these people lived south and the latter north of the Luiseno and other Shoshonean tribes, much the same style of dwelling seems to have prevailed all along the coast slope of Southern California.

Plants used for Food and Fiber edit

Maize - corn

Lichens - clothing, kindling

Beans - several varieties

Psorulea esculenta (pomme blanche) - a leguminous plant

Camassia esculenta (camass) - the bulb is about an inch in diameter, mucilaginous, sweetish, and quite nutritious.

Peucedanum farinosum (biscuit-root, couse) - somewhat like a small parsnip.

Apios tuberosa (ground-nut) - at base of stem are tubers which may be eaten.

Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke) - its tubers were used by the Indians of the Mississippi Valley

Helianthus annuus (sunflower)

Wyethia robusta (Nutt.) - seeds are eaten

Nut-pines - from pinecones

Fruit Of The Cactus


Wild rice (Zizania aquatica)

Agave - variety of species

The Sotol (Dasylirion Texanum)- ?

Soap-plants - a subterranean bulb, which is egg-shaped in form, two or three inches in diameter, and enveloped in a thick coating of black, matted, hair-like fibers. This bulb has the detergent properties of soap, cleaning the hands or clothing quite as well as and much more pleasantly than the coarser kinds of soap.

Bbeeies - the Indians are great berry-eaters. During the summer the huckleberries, strawberries, blackberries, etc.

Oregon grape

The buffalo-berry (Shepherdia argentea) - ?

Gooseberries And Currants

Nuts - the Indians of the Eastern States valued more highly, and gathered more abundantly than the whites have since done, the chestnuts, hickory-nuts, walnuts, and butternuts, etc.

Pine-bark - one article of subsistence sometimes employed by the Indians is only resorted to when they are driven to great straits by hunger.

Food and fiber plants of the North American Indians By John Strong Newberry

Indian with Bow, Sling, and Balls edit


The Indian, or mound builder: the Indians, mode of living, manners, customs ... By Thomas Beckwith

Indian Farming and Woodworking Tools edit

The Indian, or mound builder: the Indians, mode of living, manners, customs ... By Thomas Beckwith

Indian Bow Drill edit

The Indian, or mound builder: the Indians, mode of living, manners, customs ... By Thomas Beckwith