Wiyot - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. Humboldt Bay and its associated rivers and creeks made for a predominantly maritime subsistence economy with mollusks, sea mammals, and fish (especially anadromous salmon) all heavily exploited. The fishing technology utilized boats, harpoons, traps, nets, weirs, and platforms. The surrounding forests, with clearings here and there, provided deer and elk as well as acorns, which were gathered, processed, and prepared in the classic central California manner. Dogs were the only Domesticated animals and were used in hunting as well as for Companions.

Industrial Arts. Woodworking (canoe carving and the production of split and dressed planks for dwellings), stone working (well-shaped adz handles and bell-shaped mauls), obsidian chipping (large ceremonial blades and projectile points), bone and shell carving (fishing and mammal-hunting equipment, ceremonial beads and pendants), and twined basket weaving (for acorn collection and processing and decorated women's hats) were the principal industrial arts.

Trade. The Wiyot supplied their southern neighbors like the Mattole with dugout canoes, dentalium beads, and local foods and received in return tobacco, haliotis shells, and local foods. They supplied groups to the north and west such as the Yurok with white deerskins and olivella shells and received iris-fiber rope.

Division of Labor. The typical dichotomy for much of California obtained, with men hunting large animals and women weaving baskets and processing and preparing plant foods. Both sexes gathered acorns and pinenuts and made rabbit-skin blankets and buckskin moccasins. Curers, sucking- or herb-doctors or shamans could be of either sex, although the little-known "soul-loss" doctors were all men, as were the priests or ceremonial officials.

Land Tenure. Dwellings, occupied by two or more Families, were privately owned, and there was a specific term for a rich man who owned one. Fishing places, hunting and seedgathering lands, and tobacco plots were also privately held, although particular trees, fishing weirs, and pens on weirs were not. Sweat houses were probably owned by the village, and beaches by the local group.

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