California Indian Languages: Penutian Tribes

In 1750 AD speakers of Penutian tongues occupied nearly half of California and were a solid block of about 30 groups in the California Heartland.  Penutian roots are old in California and expanded after Hokan languages were established in the state. To the extent that language and culture may be related, Penutian was the most typically “Californian” of any linguistic root language.   (Moratto, California Archaeology *)


 

Costanoan/Ohlone

Native Location:  Area along the California central coast

Language:  Penutian

Identified Shelters:  Domed structures thatched with tule, grass, and fern

Food:  Acorn, seeds, nuts, berries, grapes, honey, fish, deer, bear, mountain lion, and small game

Tribal Websites:   

Amah Mutsun Tribe

Confederated Villages of Lisjan

Costanoan Indian Canyon 

Coastanoan Rumsen Carmel Tribe         

Esselen Tribe of Monterey County        

Muwekma Ohlone        


 

Maidu

Native Location:  Eastern drainage area of the Sacramento river near Chico, and in large areas on the east and south side of Lassen Peak.

Language:  Penutian

Identified Shelters:  Unhewn timber-framed structure, cone-shaped, covered with grass, brush, tules, and earth

Food:  Acorn, wild plants, fish, game

Cultural Notes:  They were once nomadic, hunter-gatherers.


Tribal Websites:
Greenville Rancheria            

Honey Lake Maidu Tribe      

Konkow Maidu                     

Mechoopda Indian Tribe of Chico Rancheria

Susanville Indian Rancheria   

United Auburn Indian      

 

 


 

 

Miwok

Native Location:  San Francisco Bay Area to Monterey; there was a tribe of Ahwaneechee Miwoks who lived in the Yosemite area for nearly 4,000 years before a fatal illness caused them to flee the valley.

Language:  Penutian

Identified Shelters:  Semi-subterranean, cone-shaped structures with pole frames, covered with bark, brush, grass, or tule; a fire-pit stood in the center and a hole was left on the top of the dome for air circulation.

Food:  Acorn, pine nuts, buckeyes, berries, seeds, roots fish, deer, elk, bear, small game, waterfowl

Tribal Websites:
California Valley Miwok Tribe                   

Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria 

Ione Band of Miwok Indians                                

Jackson Rancheria                      

Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians       

Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation 

United Auburn Indian Community 

Wilton Rancheria

 


 

Wintun (Wintu)

Native Location:  Area south of Redding to the slopes of Mt. Shasta

Language:   Wintun dialect of Penutian

Identified Shelters:  In the north, semi-subterranean, cone-shaped structures with a connecting timber framework, covered with bark;  in the south, a central post with radiating rafters resting on the surrounding edges of an earth pit, covered by various material.

Food:   Deer, small game, bear, salmon, trout, acorns, seeds, nuts, berries

Tribal Websites:
 

Cachil Dehe Band of Wintun Indians

Grindstone Indian Rancheria of Wintun-Wailaki Indians of California

Kletsel Dehe Wintun Nation

Redding Rancheria  

Yocha De He Wintun Nation


Yokuts

Native Location:  Western side of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the San Joaquin Valley foothills

Language: Penutian

Identified Shelters: Semi-subterranean, cone-shaped structures with a connecting pole framework, covered with tule, tarweed, and pine needles.

Food:  Pinenuts, manzanita berries, acorns, salmon, deer, rabbit, geese

Cultural Notes: They were once a nomadic hunter/gatherer tribe which used tools made of bedrock, spears, bows & arrows, and knives. They pierced their ears and nose for decoration and the women often wore tattoos.


Tribal Websites: 
Tachi Yokut Tribe (Santa Rosa Rancheria)      

Tule River Tribe                             

Kechayi Band of Yokuts Indians


 

Other Penutian Tribes:  Konkow - Modoc - Nisenan - Nomiaki - Patwin

* Moratto, Michael, California Archaeology, Academic Press, Inc., 1984