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California Native American Tribes

April 13, 1998

In 1911 a mysterious man emerged from the wilderness of Northern California. No one knew who he was or could understand his language and he was immediately put in a jail. A couple of anthropologists befriended him, and he told them the story of his life. As the last surviving Yahi, Ishi was able to provide invaluable insights into his culture, ensuring that his tribe would not be forgotten. To learn more about California Native American tribes, use the direct links on The Times's Launch Point Web site at

Level 1

Chumash Indians: The Chumash Indians of the Central Coast painted stories and legends inside caves from Morro Bay to the Channel Islands. Find out more about the Chumash through these reports written and illustrated by third-graders.

Shapes and Uses of California Indian Basketry: The early Native Americans achieved a high degree of craftsmanship and artistry in their baskets. View pictures that demonstrate the incredible range of their skills: from cooking baskets and water bottles to cradles, moccasins, and animal traps.

Chumash Indians--Sports and Recreation: Imagine two teams, each with a hundred players, using a special "shinny" stick to hit a small wooden ball through the other team's goal posts. Learn about the many games that the Chumash played to practice important skills as well as to have fun.


Level 2

California Native American Site: Anthropologists estimate that 130,000 to 350,000 Native Americans were living in California before European settlers arrived. Find out about the Ohlone people who lived near present-day San Francisco and Monterey County.

The Miwok Indians Of Yosemite: The Miwok used nettle root to help relieve rheumatism and milkweed to help heal warts. Find out about the history, tools, foods, arts, games and legends of this tribe who lived in the area currently known as Yosemite.

People of Our Past: Like many other tribes, the Chumash and Gabrielinos prepared acorns by grinding them, leaching away the tannic acid and using the acorn meal to make flat cakes and soup. Learn more about their way of life through photos and oral histories.


Level 3

California Indians-An Historical Sketch: This detailed account traces the history of Native Americans in California from their earliest known origins to the present day and includes historical resources.

The History of the Maidu Mechoopda Indians: The Gold Rush of 1848 changed the lives of the Maidu Mechoopda Indians forever. View maps and pictures that help tell the story of this tribe: the early days, their virtual extinction at the hands of white settlers and their current struggles in the late 20th century.

California Tribes: A collection of resources on Native American tribes today. Read about the Hoopa alphabet, view the work of different artists and find out when the next powwow is.


What games did the Chumash play to develop the good eye-hand coordination skills needed for hunting?

CLUE: See Chumash Indians--Sports and Recreation at

Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point now covers more than 40 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.

Answer to last week's Quest: Marble


Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This week's Quest was designed by Julie Ryan, Leslie Baldwiin, Todd Sautner, Stan Woo-Sam and Anna Manring.

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