Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The traditional subsistence activities of the Yokuts varied from region to region but in all instances emphasized fishing, hunting, and gathering. Among the Northern Valley Yokuts the major food staples were salmon, taken in great numbers with nets and spears during fall spawning runs, and acorns, gathered in significant quantities in the late spring or early summer and fall. The hunting of waterfowl, such as geese and ducks, was also of major importance. The subsistence pattern of the Southern Valley Yokuts focused on lake and river fishing with nets, basket traps, and spears, hunting waterfowl from tule rafts, and gathering shellfish and tule roots. The Foothills Yokuts emphasized hunting deer by means of stalking, ambush, and collective drive techniques, trapping and shooting quail, and gathering acorns; fishing, employing spears, weirs, and poisons, supplemented this pattern during certain times of the year. The descendants of the Yokuts living on the Tule River Reservation now find employment in lumbering and farm and ranch work and derive some income from the lease of grazing lands and timber tracts. Yokuts living on the Santa Rosa Rancheria are less fortunate, with many unable to find anything more than seasonal employment as migrant workers.
Industrial Arts. The Valley Yokuts depended to a considerable extent upon tule as a raw material for baskets, cradles, mats for rafts and house coverings, and a variety of other items. Employing twined and coil techniques, the Yokuts wove baskets of a variety of types, including cooking containers, burden baskets, winnowing trays, seed beaters, and water bottles. Simple, functional pottery was produced by some Foothills Yokuts groups.
Trade. The Yokuts were heavily engaged in trade with their neighbors prior to European contact. Among the variety of goods traded by the Yokuts were fish, dog pups, salt, seeds, and tanned antelope and deer hides. In return they received acorns, stone mortars and pestles, obsidian, rabbit-skin blankets, marine shells, shell beads, and dried sea urchins and starfish.
Division of Labor. Both sexes contributed substantially to subsistence, with males primarily responsible for hunting and fishing and females for collecting shellfish and plant foods. In addition, men wove fishing nets and produced wood, bone, and stone tools; women cooked, cared for children, and wove baskets and tule mats.
Land Tenure. Local or subtribal territories were owned collectively. Each member of a local group possessed rights to utilize the resources of the group's territory; however, in some instances some seed-producing areas were owned by individual women.