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Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 187-234, PL 20 August 7, 1908 







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1. Hunwut tukwut, bear panther. 

2. Changichnish, raven. 

3. Showut, black-rattlesnake. 

4. Kuihengish, black spider. 

5. Apmikat. 

6. Pidpidiwut. breaker. 

7. Kul a wut, stick. 



Vol. 8, No. 4, pp. 187-234, PI. 20 August 7 , 1908 






Editor s Note 188 

y Introduction 188 

^Vegetable food 193 

^ Flesh and hunting 197 

^ Fishing 200^ 

% Clothing 200 

A ^Pottery 201 

*^(V,Articles made of plant fibers 202 

& Baskets and basket makhrg 204 

fo Bows and arrows 205 

/C Stone implements 207 

,6 Feather objects 208 

A Fire making 209 

A Gums, dyes, and paints 209 

Miscellaneous 210 

N Games 212 

VHouses 212 

* Marriage 213 

^^Government .. 21> 

I t 
p*Shamanism 215 

\ JChangichnish the raven 218 

spirits and monsters 219 

^ Boys pubeaty ceremonies 221 

i^ Girls puberty ceremonies 224 

>^ Mourning and mourning ceremonies 226 

Appendix. Plants used by the Luisenos 228 

188 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 


Philip Stedman Sparkman, the author of this paper, by birth 
an Englishman, was killed at his home at Bincon, near Valley 
Center, San Diego county, California, May 19, 1907. For years 
before his death he had spent much time in communication with 
the Luiseno Indians of Rincon and vicinity, and in the study of 
their language, of which he published a sketch in the American 
Anthropologist of 1905. He left a voluminous manuscript gram 
mar and dictionary of the Luiseno language, which have been 
secured for permanent preservation by the University of Cali 
fornia and are being prepared for publication. Among the pa 
pers obtained by the University is the following account of the 
culture of the Luisefios, which is presented without addition and 
with only such minor alterations as have been necessary to make 
it ready for the printer. A Luiseno tale recorded by Mr. Spark 
man is published in the Journal of American Folk-Lore of 1908. 
Several papers issued in this series of University of California 
Publications, especially The Religion of the Luiseno Indians of 
Southern California," "Shoshonean Dialects of California," "A 
Mission Record of California Indians," and "The Ethnography 
of the Cahuilla Indians," treat in part or wholly of the same 
Indians as the present account or of closely related tribes. It 
will be found that these papers and Mr. Sparkman s corroborate 
one another closely. Even the slight discrepancies, resting on 
information independently obtained and representing significant 
differences of point of view, may have value for future students. 


The Luiseilos belong to the large Shoshonean linguistic family, 
which includes the Bannocks of Idaho and Oregon, the Utes, 
Paiutes, Comanches, Mokis, and other tribes. Indians of Sho 
shonean family occupied the coast of California from the mouth 
of Agua Hedionda creek to about Point Duma. They also occu 
pied the islands of San Nicolas, Santa Catalina, and perhaps San 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 189 

Clemente also. The first European to visit their territory was 
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, a Portuguese in the Spanish service, 
who in 1542 saw Santa Catalina island and visited what is now 
known as San Pedro bay. 

That branch of the family known as Luisefios occupied the 
coast from above San Juan Capistrano to the mouth of Agua 
Hedionda, and are thus the most southwesterly tribe of the Sho- 
shonean linguistic family in the United States. We cannot pre 
tend to give the exact boundary of their former habitat, but will 
do so as nearly as possible. Beginning at the mouth of Agua 
Hedionda, it ran so as to include what was afterwards the San 
Marcos rancho, also most of the Escondido rancho, one of their 
villages being situated in the ravine near the gold mine. From 
here the boundary ran so as to include the Mendenhall and Maxcy 
ranches, also most of Guejito ; from here to the San Jose valley, 
part of which it included; from here to near Cahuilla valley; 
from here so as to include Saboba and Temescal ; and from there 
to the sea near San Juan Capistrano. The language spoken at 
San Juan Capistrano, as well as that of Saboba, differs consid 
erably from that of the remainder of the Luisefios, and by some 
the people of those places are not included among the Luisefios. 

"Rio San Luis Rey de Francia," River St. Louis King of 
France, was the name given by the Franciscan friars to what is 
now known as the San Luis Rey river. Four miles up the river 
from its mouth was established the mission of San Luis Rey de 
Francia in 1798. Twenty miles higher up the river the mission 
of Pala, an outpost of San Luis Rey de Francia, was established 
in 1816. The Indians who were gathered at these two missions 
were called "San Luisefios" by the Franciscans. "San Lui 
sefios," the equivalent of "St. Louisans" in English, has now 
been shortened generally to "Luisefios," and adopted by the 
tribe as their designation, they, like many Indians, having no 
name for themselves, except one merely meaning people. 

The neighbors of the Luisefios on the south are the Dieguenos, 
who belong to the Yuman linguistic family. On the north and 
east are other Shoshoneans known as Cahuillas. This appellation 
they were given by the Mexicans ; it is not, as has been supposed, 
their native name. 

190 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and EtTin. [Vol. 8 

The Luiseiios of whom we more particularly write are those 
living in the valley of the San Luis Bey between Pala and the 
San Jose valley. These formerly occupied not only the river 
valley but also Palomar mountain, and there is a tradition among 
them that they formerly went to the coast in winter. It must 
not be supposed that they wandered at will over this territory ; 
on the contrary, each band had its allotted district, in which it 
alone had the right to gather food and hunt. Thus each band 
had its tract in the San Luis Rey valley, and another on Palomar, 
to which it moved during the acorn-gathering season. The land 
of each band seems to have been sometimes again subdivided 
among the different families of which the band was composed; 
at least that part of the land which was valuable for certain food 
products was thus subdivided. 

Each band seems to have guarded its allotted territory with 
the greatest jealousy, and more quarrels are said to have arisen 
over trespassing than from all other causes combined. When 
questioned as to when or how the land was divided and sub 
divided, the Indians say they cannot tell, that their fathers told 
them that it always had been thus. Many of the older ones 
remember how they were cautioned when young never to tres 
pass on the land of others in pursuit of game or food without 
permission. Yet occasionally a band would become dissatisfied 
with its habitat, and forcibly intrude itself into that of another. 
An instance of this took place so recently as still to be remem 
bered and spoken of. 

Luiseno geographical names are very numerous indeed, every 
small tract with any distinguishing feature being named. Some 
times there will be a name for a large tract of country, and then 
other names for small portions of such a tract. This is not, how 
ever, the rule. Usually each small tract has its name, without 
any general name for the larger area. But large tracts outside, 
of Luiseno territory are known by a general name. Some geo 
graphical names are descriptive, but most of them are not. Many 
of the names given below are those of old village sites near mod 
ern localities and settlements, but now applied to these localities. 
Many names are derived from plants and animals which are or 
were abundant near the locality named after them. 


SparTcman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 



Kimki harasa 



Exla tovotva 




Takwish poshapila 



I pax 






Ta i 










Pa i 







Coronado Islands 1 

San Clemente Island 2 

Santa Catalina Island 2 

Slough at mouth of Agua Hedionda Creek 

Colorado desert 

Palomar mountain 

San Jacinto mountain 

Highest peak of Palomar mountain 

Rocky peak east of Wikyo 

San Bernardino mountain 

Cuyamaca mountain 

Highest peak of Volcan mountain 

Cahuilla mountain 

Monkey hill, San Jose valley 

Moro hill, near Fallbrook 

Mountain nearly opposite where Escondido 

ditch comes out of San Luis Rey river 
Hill near Pala flour mill 
Peak of Palomar, near Bougher s 
Antonio Serrano s house on Pauma ranch 
The small flat on Pauma ranch 
Oak flat (Pauma ranch) 
Rodeo (Pauma ranch) 
Site of Potrero ranch house 
Valley above same 
Old Potrero village 
Site of Pala flour mill 
Agua Tibia 

Agua Tibia warm spring 
Agua Caliente 
San Luis Rey 
San Pascual 
Santa Ysabel village 

1 Compare the names of places given in the present series of publications, 
IV, 142-150, 1907, and VIII, 108 seq., 1908. 

2 The names and identifications of these islands were variously given by 
different informants of the author. Cf. ibid., VIII, 108, note 80. A San 
Juan Capistrano Indian in 1907 said: " Santa Catalina es Kinke (qinqe). 
San Clemente no tiene nombre, esta pegado a Santa Catalina, es la misma 

192 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 



Yangi wana 





















A tup a 


Site of J. Q. Adams store at Valley Center 

Site of house on Maxcy ranch 

Mesa Grande 

Las Flores 



Iron spring on Palomar 

Where the Pauma Indians had their en 
campment during the acorn-gathering 
season on Palomar 

Where the Pala Indians had their encamp 
ment during the acorn-gathering season 
on Palomar 

Where the Yapicha Indians had their en 
campment during the acorn-gathering 
season on Palomar 

Where J. Frey lives 

Spring where S. Gamez lives 

Where Luis Majel lives 

Where Juan Despierto lives 

Old village site above Rincon on road to 

Old village site on Santa Margarita Ranch 
near ranch house 

Old village site on Palomar 

Old village site on Palomar 

Old village site on Palomar 

Old village site on Palomar 

Old village site on Palomar 

Old village site on Palomar 

Where Indians of Kuka or Potrero en 
camped while gathering acorns on Pa 

Old village site on Palomar 

Spring on east side of Palomar 

Spring on east side of Palomar 


Warm spring in middle of village at Ca- 
huilla valley 

Los Duraznos, Cahuilla valley 

1908] SparJcman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 193 


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 

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 palat 
able is that of the black or Kellogg s oak, Quercus Calif arnica. 
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, Quercus 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 

Quercus chrysolepsis, usually called the maul or Valparaiso 
oak, grows on Palomar in the cafions at a somewhat lower eleva 
tion 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 

194 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

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 Prunus 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 sparifigly in the San Luis Rey 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 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 195 

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 Key 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 

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. 

196 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

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 

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 occa 
sionally 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 

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 soap- 
plant Chenopodium Calif ornicum, peppergrass, and several Com- 
positae. 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 Engel- 
manni; 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 erio- 
carpa. The sap of this plant, which runs out freely when the 
stems are cut, is collected and boiled in water until it coagulates. 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 197 

It is then ready for use as chewing gum, and is much esteemed, 
but is not as lasting as that of the white oak. 


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 impos 
sible 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 wal;er. 
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 Luiseiios antel 
opes 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 

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 

198 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

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 

Eabbits 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 under 
growth along the river. Several other kinds of rats were for 
merly 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 siball animals could get between the stones when baited 
in the above manner, for larger ones, as wood rats and ground 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 199 

squirrels, a short stick was placed on top of the acorns. This 
made room for them to crawl between the stones and reach the 

Tree squirrels were not eaten. Neither were wild pigeons 
nor doves until quite recently, the latter from superstitious mo 
tives. 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 w r ere 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 Calif ornica. 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 some 
times 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 

200 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 


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


Mountain trout are found in a few localities in the upper 
San Luis Rey river, also in some of the mountain streams which 
empty into it. The only other fish is a very small one. The trout 
were taken when the water was low by macerating a plant and 
throwing it in the pools, when they became stupefied and rose to 
the surface, where they were taken by hand, or scooped out with 
a rush basket. The small fish w T ere taken with a dip net. 

While fish formed an unimportant article of food for those 
who lived inland, it was the chief dependence of those who lived 
on the coast. They used a canoe or raft of rushes, with which 
they went out some distance from the shore to fish with a dip net. 
Seine nets were also used. Some wooden canoes were also made 
from the trunks of trees. It is stated that voyages were for 
merly made with these as far as San Clemente island. The coast 
people also fished with hook and line. The line was made from 
the fiber of Yucca Mohavensis and the hook from an abalone shell, 
the part near the center being used, where the grain is more 
twisted, and so more suitable for the purpose. Fish hooks were 
also made of bone. The coast people also consumed large quan 
tities of shell fish of several species. Some say that they used a 
harpoon for spearing fish, the bone point being loosely inserted 
in a socket at the end of a pole, to which it was attached by a line, 
so that on striking a fish the point was pulled from the socket, 
but was still attached to the pole by the line. Others say that 
no harpoon was ever used by them. This may be true, but it is 
certain that the Dieguenos used one, and it seems improbable that 
the Luisenos would not have employed it. 


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 cloth 
ing at all. The capes were sometimes made of rabbit skins, cut 

1908] SparTcman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 201 

into 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 

Another article of dress was an apron, pishkwut, generally 
of net-work, made from the twine obtained from dogbane, Apocy- 
num cannabinum, or the milkweed, Asclepias eriocarpa. Another 
apron, shehevish, was made of the inner bark of willow or cotton- 
wood. 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. 


Some doubt has been expressed as to whether the Indians of 
Southern California understood the art of making pottery before 
the arrival of the friars. It does not seem that there is any doubt 
that at least some of them did. Costanso s report of the expe 
dition of 1769 speaks, though somewhat vaguely, of the Indians 
of San Diego as using pottery. The Luisenos themselves say 
positively that they were pottery makers. 

Several different kinds of earthen vessels are made, the com 
monest form being one used now for keeping water cool, and 
formerly also used for storing seeds. This is called narungrush. 
A form of vessel with an extra wide mouth, wiwlish, is used for 
cooking food, another with a small mouth, nadungdamal, for 
carrying water. As water is carried on the back or shoulder, it 
would spill out of a large-mouthed vessel, while the mouth of a 
small one is easily stopped up with a bunch of grass or rushes. 
One type of vessel, papakamal, was made with two small mouths. 
This form was of small size, and was used to carry a small amount 
of water for drinking when people were out gathering food. It 

202 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

was carried by a string passed through the two small mouths, 
the Luisenos never making handles for their pottery or baskets. 
A bowl-shaped vessel was used for serving food. A shallow dish, 
tevatvamal, in shape between a plate and a saucer, was also used 
for serving food. 

The only tools used in pottery making are a flat piece of wood 
and a smooth pebble of suitable size. Pottery is baked by merely 
digging a pit and filling it with dry cow-dung, among which the 
vessels are placed. The dry bark of trees was formerly used, 
wood not making a sufficiently hot fire. The clay used is thor 
oughly kneaded and tempered, and strips or coils of it are 
gradually added to the edge of the growing vessel. We have 
never seen any painted pottery made by the Luisenos, but the 
Cahuillas who live on the Colorado desert sometimes ornamented 

A pipe, hukapish, was sometimes made of clay. It was 
short and tubular, tapering rather abruptly toward the small 


The best fiber is made from dogbane or Indian hemp, Apocy- 
num cannabinum, a perennial plant with annual stems. The 
inner bark furnishes the fiber. Sometimes the outer covering is 
scraped off and the inner bark then removed from the stalk ; or 
the bark is pulled off entire, and soaked in boiling water, after 
which the outer covering easily separates from the fiber. In 
either case the fiber is rolled into a ball, and made into twine by 
rolling it between the palm of the hand and the bare thigh. 

A milkweed, Asclepias eriocarpa, furnishes a light-colored 
fiber, but it is not so durable as that obtained from dogbane. 
The fiber is separated from the pulp by soaking the stems in 
boiling water ; or, late in the season, when the pulp has decayed, 
it may be separated by merely basting the stems. It is then 
made into a ball, which is afterwards made into twine in the 
same manner as dogbane fiber. 

The common nettle, Urtica holosericea, also furnishes a fiber, 
but it is little esteemed. 

The twine made from the plants mentioned is usually two-ply, 

1908] Sparlcrtuun,. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 203 

but three-ply and four-ply twrte also made. 2a Bowstrings are 
made from such twine, generally of dogbane. 

A large-meshed net for carrying bulky or heavy articles, ikut,^ 
is also made from twine. This carrying-net has a cord attached 
that passes across the forehead, which bears part of the weight 
of the contents. A net-work sack for carrying acorns, kawish, 
was formerly made, the mesh being ^sufficiently small to prevent 
the acorns from falling through. The mouth of this sack might 
be tied and the sack itself placed in the large-meshed carrying 
net, or it could be used alone, as it had a cord attached to it in 
the same manner as the carrying net. One we have seen would 
probably hold about a bushel. Other net-work sacks with a still 
finer mesh are said to have been made at one time. In these small 
seeds were carried. 

A long^net, yulapish, for use at rabbit drives, was occasion 
ally made. These were considered very valuable, much time 
being consumed in their manufacture. A draw-net for catching 
rabbits and jackrabbits was also made. This was placed in their 
runs, or stretched between bushes where they would be likely to 
pass. An endeavor was then made to drive them towards the 
nets. A small fine-meshed dip-net was made for catching a very 
small fish found in streams. A large dip-net was made for sea 

The front apron . worn by women was also formerly made 
from this cordage, sometimes of net-work and sometimes of loose 
strings suspended to a cord tied around the waist. 

Slings, pivanlish, were also made from twine, and it was used 
for many other purposes. The fiber of Yucca Mohavensis, so 
much used by the Cahuillas, is seldom employed by the Luiseilos, 
though a fish line was formerly made from it. The leaves are 
soaked in water until the pulpy part decays* when they are basted 
to separate the fiber. 

From the fibers covering the bulb of the soap-root, Chloro- 
galum pomeridianum, a small brush, . alukut, is made. This is 
used, in pounding acorns, to sweep up the scattered meal, and to 
brush it from the mortar. 

2a The twine made by the California Indians was almost invariably two- 
ply. Perhaps the Luiseno three-ply and four-ply string is due to European 

204 University of California Publications in Atr^^rch. and Ethn. [Vol. 8 


Basket making is an art in which the Luisenos are quite 
adept. Their usual basketry is a coiled ware, the foundation of 
the coil being composed of a long grass, Epicampes rigens Cali- 
fornica. The splints with which the coil is wrapped are usually 
from the aromatic sumac, Rhus trilobata, but when it is wished 
to give a brown color the lower part of a rush is used. 

Several different forms of these coiled baskets are made, each 
having a different name, and being used for a different purpose. 
One conical shaped basket did duty as a hat, chilkwut, and was 
also used as a drinking vessel, also at times to eat out of. A 
large basket, peyevla, was used for storage purposes, various 
kinds of food being kept in it. A nearly flat basket, tukmal, was 
used for winnowing and cleaning seeds, and for other purposes. 
To winnow, the article was placed in the basket, lifted in the air, 
and allowed to fall slowly so that the wind would carry away the 
rubbish. The most common basket, pa kwut, is basin-shaped. 
This form varies in size. Fourteen inches in diameter and four 
deep would be a medium size. Another kind, called peyevmal, 
usually has the sides bulging slightly, with the mouth drawn in ; 
these are the smallest of all. 

Baskets are always patterned with black, and sometimes also 
with brown, on the light ground of the sumac, and rarely a 
basket is made entirely black or brown. No model is ever used, 
except possibly of late years occasionally; and no two baskets 
are ever exactly alike. Basket-making is a very slow and tedious 
process, there being from ten to eighteen wraps of the coil to an 
inch in an ordinary basket, and in rare cases even more. Quite 
a small basket, if well made, will require ten thousand stitches 
or wraps of the coil. Sometimes a pattern is made to represent 
a bird, animal, or leaf, but most of them represent the momentary 
fancy of the maker. Much has been written to prove that Indian 
basket patterns have some hidden symbolic or religious signifi 
cance, but in the case of the Luisenos they have none whatever. 
On this point we speak positively. 

Besides the coiled baskets, woven or twined ones are made 
from a rush, Juncus Mertensianus. These are of open-work, and 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 205 

are quite roughly made. One kind is used as a sifter, another 
to leach acorn-meal in, others of different sizes are used for 
every-day purposes, such as gathering acorns and cactus. It is 
known that some of the Indians of Southern California made 
baskets of rushes, coated with asphaltum to render them water 
proof, but the Luisenos say that they never made this class of 


Bows are usually about five feet long, somewhat thicker in 
the middle, and gradually tapering towards the ends, the intent 
being to give more spring to the bow and carry the arrow with 
greater force. They are commonly made of willow, also of elder 
and ash, which are considered superior to willow. Excellent 
wood for making bows is said to be furnished by a species of 
mountain ash, and still better by a shrub that grows in a few 
places on Palomar mountain. 

The arrow generally used has a mainshaft of cane, Elymus 
condensatus , and a foreshaft of a greasewood, Adenostoma fasci- 
culatum, which is generally hardened in the fire. The mainshaft 
will perhaps average about two feet three inches in length, and 
the foreshaft about nine inches. The latter is inserted in the 
hollow end of the cane used for the mainshaft, glued in place 
with pitch or asphaltum, and bound firmly with sinew. 

Three trimmed feathers are attached to the shaft by wrapping 
with sinew, a little asphaltum being used to keep the sinew 
threads from slipping out of place. The feathers are not tied 
straight on the shaft, but twisted slightly to one side, the object 
being to give a rotary motion to the arrow, and so, it is thought, 
hold it straighter to its course, on the same principle as the spiral 
grooving of a rifle barrel. The feathers used are mostly from 
different species of hawks. 

Some arrows were formerly tipped with stone points, teket, 
the base of the point being inserted in a notch in the end of the 
foreshaft, to which it was securely tied with sinew, gum or as 
phaltum being also used to assist in keeping it in place. The 
gum most esteemed for this purpose was that obtained from the 
greasewood, Adenostoma fasciculatum, the same shrub from which 
the foreshafts are made. 

206 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

Small arrows are also made from the stems of two tall weeds, 
Artemisia heterophylla and Heterotheca grandifolia. These ar 
rows have a foreshaft, and are feathered like those of cane. 

All the above arrows are straightened by means of a grooved 
stone, yaulash. This is heated in the fire, and the arrow passed 
back and forth along the groove until it is thoroughly heated, 
when it is straightened and allowed to cool, after which it will 
retain its shape. 

Arrows are also made from the arrow-weed, Pluchea borealis. 3 

The stone points or arrowheads always have a concave base. 
Farther north tanged arrowheads were sometimes used, but the 
Luisenos did not employ them. 

Arrowpoints are chipped or flaked into shape with a tool, 
pilaxpish, made from a piece of deer antler. Some arrowpoints 
are quite large, the two ends of the concave base projecting con 
siderably on either side of the foreshaft, while others are very 
small indeed. 

An ordinary Luiseno bow will carry an arrow about one 
hundred yards, but is not effective for more than half that dis 
tance. When not in use it is always unstrung to keep the string 
from weakening. Bowstrings are oftenest made of the fiber of 
dogbane, Apocynum cannabinum, but are also made from that 
of milkweed or the stinging nettle. Most of the strings are two- 
ply, but some are three-ply and four-ply. They are also made 
of sinew thread, and then are always three-ply. 3a 

The quiver is made of the skin of a fox, wildcat, or other 
animal, and is slung over the shoulder by a cord attached to it. 
A small quantity of long tree-moss may be placed in the bottom 
to keep the arrowpoints from being damaged. 

In using the bow, arrows of arrow-weed are grasped between 
the thumb and forefinger, but other kinds are held loosely be 
tween the fingers, usually between the first and second ; this leaves 
all the four fingers free to draw the bowstring. 

3 This sentence was left uncompleted by the author. Perhaps he intended 
to add that this type of arrow lacked foreshaft and stone point. 

30 Two Cahuilla bows in the Museum of the Department of Anthropology 
show three-ply sinew string. The sinew strings on two of three Mohave bows 
are also three-ply. 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 207 


Many stone implements have been found in the habitat of the 
Luisefios whose use they have lost all knowledge of, if indeed 
they were not left behind by some other tribe who formerly 
occupied the territory. 

The ordinary pestle is merely a conveniently shaped stone, 
and the ordinary mortar a hole in a large flat granite rock near 
the dwelling. But many mortars are made of roundish boulders, 
mostly granite, though some are of tufa rock from a locality near 
the coast. So there are two kinds of mortars, the permanent ones 
of the large rocks, and others made from loose boulders, which, 
being portable, may be used where there are no large rocks near, 
or when, on account of bad weather, it is necessary to do the 
grinding under shelter. 

In beginning to make a new mortar, arusut, the hole was not 
hollowed out at once to the required depth. A slight cavity was 
chipped in the rock, and a basin-shaped basket placed over it and 
glued in place with asphaltum or pitch, the sides of the basket 
keeping the acorns or other seeds from flying out when struck 
with the pestle. But with constant use the slight cavity made 
in the rock becomes deeper and deeper until the basket is no 
longer necessary, when it is removed. Many discarded mortars 
are found that have been worn clear through by continual 
pounding. Often on a large flat rock a number of mortar holes 
will be found, some of them of the usual depth, others only an 
inch or two deep, evidently just begun, while others may be a 
foot or more in depth, which having by continued use become too 
deep, have been abandoned and the new holes commenced. 

One kind of mortar, tamyush, was used exclusively by the 
medicine men for pounding up the roots of jimson weed, Datura 
meteloides, for use at the boys puberty ceremony. Some of 
these are quite symmetrical, being polished with considerable 
care, and some have even an attempt at ornamentation in the 
shape of grooves cut on the outside. The pestle of these mortars 
is also neatly shaped and polished. Another and very small 
mortar, tamya-mal, is said to have been used for mixing paint. 
This is also polished, and is almost exactly round. 

208 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

It is a question whether the metates or grinding stones, 
ngohilish, now in use were employed prior to the arrival of the 
Mexicans. Some of the Luisenos think they were, while others 
say they were not, that their ancestors used only mortars. The 
rub-stone of the metate is called ngohilish po-ma, metate its-hand. 

Flat perforated stones have been found. It is thought these 
were formerly used for cooking, the hole enabling them to be 
easily handled, when hot, by a stick thrust through them. They 
were probably also used for heating water. 

A large stone tool has been found which may perhaps be 
called a stone adze. It weighs nearly eleven pounds, and was 
evidently intended to be used by being grasped with both hands. 

Small sharp-edged flakes of a hard black stone were used as 
knives. Larger stones with a cutting edge were probably used 
for skinning or fleshing hides, but some are heavier than would 
be required for these purposes. 


The most valuable article made from feathers is a sort of 
apron or waist dress, pa hit. This extends about half way 
around the body, the upper portion being net-work. To the 
lower part of the network the feathers are attached by cutting 
part of the twine of the network, and tucking it into the hollow 
of the quill. The wing or tail feathers of only three birds can 
be used to make this skirt, namely, the golden eagle, the bald or 
white-headed eagle, and the California vulture or condor. It is 
worn at the morahash dance. 

Another feather object, a long and flat band, is made of a 
double row of feathers strung on two strings, the quills, which 
are turned inwards, being perforated, and the strings passed 
through the perforations. This object is worn slung over one 
shoulder, so as to hang diagonally across the chest. 

A bunch of feathers tied on the end of a stick, cheyat, is 
fastened on the head and worn at certain dances. The feathers 
of owls, hawks, and crows are used. 

Feathers fastened to a cord so as to form a head-band are 
worn at several dances and ceremonies. 

1908] SparJcman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 209 


The wood most used for fire making is that of Baccharis 
Douglasii. A flat stick of this, as dry as possible, is obtained 
and a shallow hole made in it, from which a small notch is cut 
to the edge of the stick. The drill, a short piece of wood with 
the lower end trimmed to fit the hole, is then placed in it and 
twirled rapidly between the palms with a downward pressure. 
This causes a fine dust to be ground from the stick. This dust 
runs out to one side through the notch, and if conditions are 
favorable, after a time ignites, no tinder being used. But if the 
wood is not thoroughly dry, or if the air is moist, it is exceed 
ingly difficult to kindle a fire by this method. 


The most useful pitch is the asphaltum found where it has 
been thrown up on the coast by the waves, also in some localities 
inland. This is used for various purposes, such as mending 
broken pottery, gluing foreshafts of arrows to the mainshaft, and 
so on. A gum is obtained from a shrub growing in great abund 
ance in certain parts. This is caused by a scale insect. It was 
formerly used to glue arrowheads to the foreshaft. The gum of 
pines was also used. 

To obtain the black color seen in baskets the splints of sumac 
are boiled in water in which oxide of iron from water impreg 
nated with iron, and some of the black dirt or muck from marshy 
places, have been placed. A yellow dye is obtained from the 
roots of Psoralea macrostachya, a tall leguminous plant growing 
along streams, by boiling them in water with the substance to be 
dyed. The juice of blackberries is sometimes used to stain articles 
of Luiseno manufacture. This is of course not permanent. 

An excellent red paint was made. Many rock paintings made 
with it are still to be seen, although it has not been used for many 
years. Three different ingredients were used in its manufacture, 
one being the oxide of iron already spoken of as being used to 
make a black dye. Another was turpentine obtained from pine 

210 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

trees, and the third the ground kernels of the seeds of chilicothe, 
Echinocystis macrocarpa. These were probably valued for the 
oil they contain. We cannot learn that any animal fats were 
used in this red paint. This is the paint with which paintings 
were made on rocks during the period of restriction of the girls 
puberty ceremony. 


The root of Chenopodium Calif ornicum was grated and used 
as soap, also the bulb of soap-root, Cklorogalum pomeridianum. 
The fruit of the wild gourd, CucurMta foetidissima, is broken 
open when ripe, and the inside rubbed on articles to be cleaned. 

A white clay is used to wash the head with ; it is thought to 
be beneficial for dandruff. 

The pilaxpish or deer-antler tool for flaking stone arrow 
heads has been mentioned. 

A chisel was also made from deer antler. The base of the 
antler formed the butt of the chisel, which a stone hammer was 
used to drive. An antler as straight as possible was selected. 

Tobacco pipes, hukapish, were usually made of clay, and had 
no stem, a person, it is said, lying down to smoke. One kind of 
pipe had a stem, but this seems to have been used only at relig 
ious festivals. 

A rattle, paayat, is made of one or more land-turtle shells, 
with choke-cherry stones or certain seeds inside. 

A rattle was also made of a number of deer hoofs tied on the 
end of loose strings. This was formerly used by hunters at a 
ceremony performed by them before going to hunt deer, with the 
idea of insuring their success. 

Necklaces of deer hoofs, also of bear claws, were sometimes 
worn at certain dances. 

A mat of reeds or rushes was made by perforating and passing 
twine through them. One was three feet by two feet nine inches, 
and had four rows of twine. In this mat were rolled up the 
articles used at religious ceremonies by the chief of festivals, not 
only his own, but also of the other members of his clan. 

Until quite recently a large receptacle was made for the 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 2H 

storage of acorns. Where boulders of sufficient size were near 
the dwelling, the receptacles were placed on top. Otherwise they 
were put on platforms of poles. They were made in a very rough 
manner of coils of willow, Adenostoma fasciculatum, or other 
plants. These receptacles have generally been called acorn gran 
aries. The mouth is covered with a flat stone. They are said to 
have held eight to twelve bushels. 

A bullroarer, momlaxpish, consists of e, flat stick with a 
double string passed through a hole at one end. When the string 
is twisted tightly and the stick swung around the head it makes 
a loud humming noise, and is used to call the people together at 

Several ornamented sticks were used at religious ceremonies. 
One of these, paviut, had a pointed crystal inserted in one end, 
and sometimes bits of shell glued to the sides with pitch a little 
below the crystal. 

There seems to have been no musical instrument except a rude 
flute, widolish. This was made from* a piece of elder wood with 
the pith removed. Specimens seen were about twenty inches long, 
and had four holes. 

A popgun of elder wood was made as a plaything for boys. 

A syringe was made of the bladder of a deer and a piece of 
cane, the bladder being inflated and then pressed with the hands 
to eject the contents. 

Several herbs are used to make tea, which is used partly as 
medicine, and also as a beverage by people who are not ill. The 
tea is made by steeping the plants in boiling water. The plants 
are sometimes used fresh, but aVe oftener dried. The bird-claw 
fern, Pellaea ornithopus, is one of the plants used for this pur 
pose. Another is Micromeria Douglasii, a creeping aromatic 
plant of the mint family growing in the shade of trees. Another 
plant of the mint family, Monardella lanceolata, is also used. 

A tea was made from several different plants that were bitter 
and acted as emetics when the throat was tickled with a feather. 
Emetics were formerly much used. 

The Luisenos made no intoxicating drink of any kind what 
ever, the stupefying jimson-weed, Datura meteloides, being used 
for religious purposes, not inebriation. 

212 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 


The chief gambling game of the Luisefios, tepanish, Spanish 
pion, is played with four small pieces of bone and four of wood 
dyed black. Fifteen sticks of wood about a foot long and of the 
thickness of a lead pencil are used as counters. Each pair of 
the pieces of bone and wood is tied to the ends of a doubled string 
about a foot long. These pieces of wood and bone represent 
whites and blacks. There are four players on each side. The 
four who play on one side each take a white and a black piece 
and sling them to their wrists by the strings, concealing their 
movements under a blanket or other covering. One of the op 
posing players then guesses in which hand the white pieces are 
held. Should he guess all four correctly, his opponents do not 
take any of the counters; should he guess three correctly, they 
take one; should he guess two correctly, they take two; should 
he only guess one correctly, they take three ; while should he miss 
all four, they take four counters. The players whose white pieces 
are not guessed continue to hide them, their side receiving one 
counter for each mistaken guess, until the last piece on the first 
side is correctly guessed. The four players of the opposite side 
then take the sticks and bones, and one of their opponents guesses 
in which hand the white pieces are. This is kept up until one 
side has all the fifteen counters, thus winning the game. 

A ring-and-pin game, chehut, is played with a string of the 
large acorn-cups of the Valparaiso oak. These are hollowed out 
and strung on a string which is tied to the larger end of a pointed 
stick. As many as possible of the string of cups are caught on 
the pointed end of the stick. 


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 

1908] SparJcman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 213 

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 * l 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 chim 
ney to give exit for the smoke. As the former of these people 
lived south and the latter north of the Luiseno and other Sho- 
shonean tribes, much the same style of dwelling seems to have 
prevailed all along the coast slope of Southern California. 


Until recently a girl could not be taken for wife without the 
consent of her parents or guardian. The suitor had to make a 
bargain with them, and pay a price agreed upon, which seems to 
have been proportioned to some extent to his wealth, as a well- 
to-do man would be expected to give more than a poor one. Still 
marriage was not entirely a mercenary affair, as a man who was 
idle or worthless, or a poor hunter, had, it is said, much difficulty 
to obtain a wife, while one who was industrious, or a skillful 
hunter, could easily do so. This shows that the parents or guard 
ians of a girl took an interest in her future welfare, and it seems 
probable that her own inclination was consulted to some extent. 

All accounts agree, however, that after her parents or guard 
ians had once disposed of her they had no more control over her. 

214 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

Should she become a widow, or separate from her husband, she 
was free to marry whom she liked. 

It is said that polygamy was not common, though some men 
would have two wives, and occasionally more. The most usual 
form was for a man to marry several sisters one after the other. 
It is said to have been permissible for a free woman, such as a 
widow, to herself propose to a man that he take her as a wife, 
even though he was already married, and it was thought unchiv- 
alrous for him to refuse to do so. If a man had two or more 
wives it was customary for him to give one of them to a brother 
who might have lost his only wife. Until quite recently it was 
thought to be in a measure obligatory for an unmarried woman 
to marry the husband of her deceased sister. For her to decline 
to do so was thought to show disrespect to the deceased sister. 

Some say that another method of marriage was for a man and 
several of his friends to carry off by force the woman he wished 
to marry, even from the house of her parents. 

Marriages with even distant relations were looked upon with 
extreme disfavor. 

When a child is adopted by an Indian family it is looked upon 
as one of their own children, and its marriage with one of its 
foster relations is regarded as incestuous. 

One remarkable belief was that when a woman had a child, 
certain acts on the part of its father would affect its health in 
the same manner as if they were performed by the mother herself. 
So for some time after the birth of a child its father was supposed 
to be as careful of himself as its mother. He was forbidden to 
smoke, as that would choke the infant. He was also careful not 
to take cold, as that would affect the infant s health. Neither, 
if it was winter, was it allowable for him to drink cold water. 
It was in fact thought improper for him to eat or drink anything 
that is usually prohibited to a woman with a newly born child. 
When an infant died within a few days of its birth, its mother 
often attributed its death to the violation by its father of some 
of the prescribed rules, and quarrels often arose between a hus 
band and wife on this account. 

It was customary for a woman for a certain time after bearing 
a child to keep herself with a fire in a close house. 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 215 


There was no government worthy the name among the Lui- 
senos, in which respect they seem not to have differed from most 
Indians of California. 

Each clan 4 appears to have inhabited a separate village, and 
to have been a law unto itself. 

One sometimes hears of the power exercised by chiefs in other 
parts of America, but the Luisenos seem to have been more demo 
cratic. There appear to be no legends of powerful chiefs. 

The religious chief of each clan seems to have possessed the 
most power, all matters pertaining to religion being under his 
control. This office was hereditary, though in some cases it might 
pass out of the direct line of descent, as when the heir was incap 
able of performing the duties. Women in some cases held the 

The office of chief of the rabbit hunt was hereditary. 

Presumably the medicine man possessed a certain amount of 
governmental power. 

It is certain that the Indians fought at times, and it would 
seem that on such occasions they must of necessity have had a 


As may be supposed, witchcraft is still much believed in, 
though not nearly so much as formerly. A person whose chil 
dren are dying, even of such a disease as consumption, will 
imagine that some evilly disposed wizard is bewitching them. He 
will perhaps go to some wizard and ask him who is killing his 
children. The wizard will inform him that a certain person is 
doing so; and after this, nothing will make the man believe 

To bewitch a person it is considered necessary to get some 
thing belonging to his body, as a little of his hair, the parings 

4 The term clan here and in the following pages appears to be the equiv 
alent of the word band in the introduction. No mention is made by the 
author or by any other of clan-totemism. It would seem that the Luiseno 
clan or band was similar to the semi-totemic clans of the Mohave but without 
the totemism; or to the village of the greater part of California, with per 
haps greater emphasis on real or imagined kinship and descent. 

216 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

of his nails, some of his blood, or a handkerchief that he has 
blown his nose in. For this reason it was formerly customary 
when one had his hair cut to carefully sweep up every particle, 
carry it away, and bury it, for fear that some enemy might 
possess himself of it to bewitch him. Some follow this custom 

One method employed by the wizards is said to be to make 
small images of the people they wish to kill, and to perform their 
incantations over them. It is said that such images have some 
times been found, either accidentally, or in the house of a wizard 
after his death. Should the finder burn them, the death of the 
wizard or witch is said to follow invariably. 

The wizards, shamans, or medicine-men, by whichever name 
they may be called, are nearly all doctors. An Indian has but 
little faith in medicine, but much more in the supernatural 
powers of the medicine-men. It is a fact that the latter use 
remedies made from plants to some extent, but they rely mostly 
on shamanistic practices. One of their methods of treatment is 
to suck the part of the body affected, and pretend to draw out 
something. Sometimes it will be a greenish or blackish fluid, 
or perhaps a reddish liquid that they declare to be blood ; at other 
times beetles, lizards, or stones. A Cahuilla doctor is said to have 
sucked a rattlesnake about a foot long out of a woman s chest. 
They also doctor by rubbing or blowing on the part of the body 
which is paining the patient. Sometimes the rubbing is per 
formed with a stone of peculiar shape or color. They also use a 
bunch of feathers to shake over the patient, also sometimes a stick 
with a number of rattlesnake rattles tied on one end. Some of 
them must either be sleight-of-hand performers, or else possess 
the power to hypnotize. We have heard one who did not believe 
in their supernatural powers say that "they make you think you 
see things you don t see." We have often wondered if they 
believe in their own arts, and have come to the conclusion that 
they do to a certain extent, though they must know that their 
pretended sucking of substances from the bodies of their patients 
is fraudulent. 

A substance is compounded by medicine-men which is sup 
posed to cause persons of the opposite sex to become enamored 

1908] SparTcman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 217 

of its possessor. It is much used by both men and women who 
wish to get married, also by those whose husbands or wives have 
either left them or no longer feel affection for them. The mere 
possession of it is thought to be sufficient, but if it is wished to 
captivate a person a little of it may be rubbed on the hands, and 
an endeavor made to shake hands with him or her. It is also 
sometimes rubbed on the face. When it fails to accomplish the 
desired purpose, appeals are often made to the medicine-man to 
send a stronger medicine. Many are willing to testify to the 
efficacy of this substance, but this is easily accounted for by the 
fact that their faith in it is so great that its possession gives them 
more courage than they had before. This may cause them to be 
successful, and they not unnaturally attribute it to the "med 

A family who had a relative die came to the conclusion that 
he had been bewitched by a certain person, a member of the 
family who was a medicine-man having declared that he had 
found out who killed their relative. So they talked over the 
matter of revenging themselves by in turn bewitching and killing 
their relative s slayer. Now this man was at Los Angeles, over 
a hundred miles away, and they were at first nonplussed how to 
get hold of something of his body to work on. After a while 
one of them remembered that he had been bled some time before, 
and that the blood had been caught in a broken piece of earthen 
ware, which was afterwards thrown away in the bushes. So a 
search was made for it, it was found, and the old medicine-man 
of the family took it and worked with it for several days, holding 
it up and talking to it, and going through other performances 
with it. When he had completed his incantation, he and the rest 
of the family took the piece of earthenware to a graveyard one 
night and buried it. 

Some time afterwards the man they wished to kill was taken 
ill in Los Angeles, and was brought home from there in a para 
lytic condition, all twisted up. Soon after he died. Of course 
the medicine-man who had performed the incantation over the 
broken piece of pottery, claimed, and without doubt firmly be 
lieved, that he had brought about this person s illness and death. 

Some medicine-men claim to have the power to make rain, 

218 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

and go through performances with that end in view. Should it 
rain within several days, they claim that it is due to their efforts. 
Should it fail to do so, they seldom lack an excuse; perhaps it 
is because the people have no faith in them or ridicule them. 
But a commoner excuse is that some other rainmaker or medicine 
man is envious of them, and, when they try to bring rain, works 
against them, and prevents them from doing so. 

Especially do they claim this if a contrary east wind should 
rise when the clouds are coming up and it looks promising for 
rain. That is surely the work of some evilly disposed medicine 
man who is jealous of them, and made the east wind rise to drive 
away the rain which was about to fall through their efforts. 


The raven was a bird much feared by the Luisenos. When 
one of these birds was heard croaking, or seen hovering about a 
village, or some of the old people dreamed of it, steps were im 
mediately taken to propitiate it. This was done by dancing 
three nights in succession, and by certain offerings. Each family 
brought food, such as chia and other delicacies, in a flat or win 
nowing basket, and placed it on the ground. Around these 
baskets of food the dance was held. The food was afterwards 
given to the old people. 

The ceremonies held with the object of propitiating the raven 
have given rise to the belief that Changichnish is a deity, whereas 
it is really the raven, and instead of being worshiped, the cere 
monies are performed with the object of propitiating it. 5 Father 
Geronimo Boscana, of the mission of San Juan Capistrano, ap 
pears to be responsible for this error, as he wrote an account of 
these ceremonies which was afterwards published by Alfred 
Robinson in 1846, in a book entitled Life in California. Father 

5 Mr. Sparkman s statement on this point conflicts not only with those of 
Boscana but of Miss DuBois and other independent investigators. It would 
seem that his expression is stronger than he would have allowed it to remain 
had he lived to revise the present paper. In his Luiseno dictionary he defines 
Changichnish as "the generic name of several things held in superstitious 
fear or reverence, among them kawialwut, the raven, kuihengish, a large 
black spider, wiyala, rock crystals, also called Changichnish pohu, and the 
different species of rattlesnakes. These are all mentioned by Miss DuBois 
as associated with Chungichnish in native belief. 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 219 

Boscana spelled the word Chin-ig-chin-ich. His error as to the 
meaning of the ceremonies is a perfectly natural one, as it is by 
no means easy to get to the root of Indian beliefs and ceremonies. 
Changichnish po-hulit, raven his arrow, is the name given to 
rock-crystals. These were believed to have been shot by ravens, 
and were regarded with superstitious fear by the Luisefios. 
Internal pains were often said to be due to a person having been 
shot by a raven with one of these arrows. 


There is still a strong belief in a malevolent water spirit, 
yuyungviwut. It is thought to belong to both sexes. The male 
is believed to spirit women away at night to his home in the 
water, not bodily, but the soul or spirit of the woman, and there 
to treat her as his wife. The women say they are well treated 
while there, but have to eat animals that frequent water, such 
as frogs and snakes. It is usually, though by no means always, 
young unmarried women who are subject to this delusion, more 
especially those who are subject to epileptic fits. Women who 
imagine themselves to be under the dominion of the water spirit 
often become seriously ill, and are treated by the medicine-men, 
who claim to be able to frighten the spirit away when it ap 
proaches. They pretend to detect its presence by a smell resem 
bling that of stagnant water, the spirit of course being invisible. 
We have known a medicine-man to be sent for from a distance 
of a hundred miles to treat a woman who imagined herself to 
be under the dominion of this spirit. And a strange thing is 
that women brought up almost entirely among the whites, and 
others with very little Indian blood, often suffer from this dis 
ease, or rather delusion. 

Men also sometimes suffer from this delusion, imagining them 
selves to be under the dominion of a female yuyungviwut. As 
in the case of the women, they are usually those who are subject 
to epileptic fits. Many are so afraid of this spirit that they will 
not call it by its true name, but instead speak of it as an " animal 
of the water. 

There is another water spirit, pavawut, that is believed to 
inhabit certain springs and ponds of water, which it is thought 

220 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

to object to having people visit. For this reason many will not 
put their houses near springs, as they are afraid to incur the 
anger of this spirit by doing so. It is said sometimes to drag 
under the water people who bathe near its haunts and to drown 
them. It is also related that a man shot one at a spring at Santa 
Margarita, and that the spring immediately dried up. The man 
also died within a short time. 6 

A being known as koyul is said to have its abode at the main 
falls of Pauma creek, not the falls that visitors to Palomar 
mountain sometimes go to see, but others much lower down the 
canon. It is thought to object to having people visit its abode, 
which is exceedingly difficult of access, and many are afraid to 
do so. 

There is a tale to the effect that some twenty-five years ago 
a man who had been told of the existence of this animal, and 
warned not to go where it lived, declared that he was not afraid 
of it, that he would go where it was said to live, and shoot it if 
he should see it. So one day he entered the canon and managed 
to get within a short distance of the falls, when he saw the animal 
sitting on a large rock directly above the fall. It looked like a 
very large toad, and was about the size of a man. He shot at it 
with a rifle he had taken along with him, when it at once jumped 
from the rock into a deep water-hole at the foot of the falls. As 
it struck the water a dense mist rose from it and filled the canon 
so that it was impossible to see in any direction. At this the 
man was badly frightened, and would have left the canon at 
once, but as he could not see anything, thought it best to wait 
until the mist cleared off. But though he waited and waited it 
did not do so, and at last he was obliged to grope his way back 
out of the canon as best he could. Strange to say he did not die 
at once, as every one prophesied he would, but is still alive, or 
was a few years ago. 

A meteor or shooting star is known by the name of Takwish, 
and is considered to be an animate being that carries people off 
and devours them. He is believed to have his abode at a locality 
in the San Jacinto mountains. There is a rocky peak on Palomar 

6 A tradition recorded by Mr. Sparkman regarding the pavawut has been 
published in the Journal of American Folk-Lore, XXI, 35, 1908. 

1908] SparJcman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 221 

where it is said he pounds the flesh of his victims to make it 
tender before devouring it. 


Puberty ceremonies were generally performed with several 
boys at once, always of the same clan. The feast-chief 7 of the 
clan to which the boys belonged never performed the rites him 
self, but employed another to do so. This was usually the feast- 
chief of another clan, though any one outside of his own clan 
who understood the rites might be employed. 

At the commencement the boys were given a small quantity 
of the juice of the roots of the toloache or jimson-weed, Datura 
meteloides. This soon stupefied them, and while they were in 
this condition dancing was kept up in a circle around them. As 
soon as they recovered they had to engage in the dance themselves, 
at the conclusion of which they were taken by the person in 
charge of the rites into the field, not to their homes. The fol 
lowing day they were required to bathe and be painted, and in 
the afternoon were taken to the dance again. This was kept up 
every day for a month, during which time they did not visit their 

Even after this period they were under certain restrictions 
for a year, not being allowed to eat either meat or salt for that 
time. At the close of the period of restriction the most important 
rites of all were performed. 

A treble circle was drawn on the ground, with an opening on 
the side facing the north. The outer circle represented the milky 
way, the middle one night, and the inner one blood. A small pit, 
representing "hell," was made in the center of the treble circle, 
and figures of animals were made between this hole and the inner 
circle, as indicated in the illustration. (PI. 20.) These figures 
were made by strewing sand on the ground. 8 

A long lecture or counsel was then given to the youths by the 
person in charge of the ceremonies. They were told to respect 

7 l Feast-chief is probably a translation of capitan cle fiesta " ; by 
this term must be understood a chief of ceremonies, the "religious chief" 
mentioned in the paragraphs concerning government. 

s This sentence was left incomplete by the author, as if an addition had 
been intended. 

222 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

their parents, and all grown-up people ; not to shout in the pres 
ence of old men; and if an old person came to their house, to 
welcome him or her, and give them food and water, if they had 
any; if not, to tell them so politely. Also, if when out hunting 
they should kill a hare or rabbit, and an old man should ask them 
for it, they should hand it to him without being angry. They 
were told to bathe on rising in the morning (which it was for 
merly customary to do), to eat but little, and not to eat hurriedly, 
even when hungry. Also not to eat chia, venison, and jack- 
rabbit. 9 If they did not heed the counsel given them, the bear 
and panther would kill them, the raven would shoot them with 
bow and arrow, if bitten by a rattlesnake in the field they would 
die right there, and they would also die if bitten by a black spider. 
Apmikat would lame them, make them blind, make boils break 
out on their bodies, or cause them to have consumption. The 
"breaker" would kill them, the stick would splinter them, and 
so on. 

But if they did heed the counsel given them, they would kill 
the bear and panther and thereby gain fame. If bitten by a 
rattlesnake or black spider, they would not die, and if chased by 
a bear or panther they would not be overtaken. Illness would 
not attack them, their bodies would be active, and they would 
win races. They might even on rising to the sky after death live 
again as one of the stars, which it was said were formerly people. 
Still other inducements were held out to them to obey the counsel 
given them, and they were told that their actions were seen by 
the earth and sky. 9 

At the close of the lecture they were given some flour of white 
sage seeds mixed with salt. This they were required to chew 
and eject from their mouths into the small pit in the center of 
the circle. The lecturer examined this, and by its appearance 
pretended to tell whether the youth who ejected it had heeded 
the counsel given him or not. If dry he declared that he had 
done so, if moist, that he had not. In the latter case, shouts of 
disapprobation were made by the spectators, who were gathered 
around the edge of the outer circle. 

These sentences were left incomplete by the author, as if additions had 
been intended. 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 223 

The following is a literal translation of the lecture or counsel 
given to boys over the torohaish or tarohaish, ground painting. 

See these, these are alive, this is bear panther; these are going to catch 
you if you are not good and do not respect your elder relations and grown 
up people. And if you do not believe, these are going to kill you; but if 
you do believe, everybody is going to see your goodness, and you then will 
kill bear panther. And you will gain fame and be praised, and your name 
will be heard everywhere. 

See this, this is the raven, who will shoot you with bow and arrow, if you 
do not put out your winnowing basket. Hearken, do not be a dissembler, do 
not be heedless, do not eat food of overnight (i.e., do not secretly eat food 
left after the last meal of the day). Also you will not get angry when you 
eat, nor must you be angry with your elder relations. 

The earth hears you, the sky and wood-mountain see you. If you will 
believe this you will grow old. And you will see your sons and daughters, 
and you will counsel them in this manner, when you reach your old age. 
And if when hunting you should kill a hare or rabbit or deer, and an old 
man should ask you for it, you will hand it to him at once. Do not be angry 
when you give it, and do not throw it to him. And when he goes home he 
will praise you, and you will kill many, and you will be able to shoot straight 
with the bow. 

This is a black-rattlesnake, this is going to bite you. Do not eat venison, 
do not eat jackrabbit, do not eat chia, do not shout in presence of old people. 
And if old people arrive at your house, you will welcome them at once. And 
if you have no food to give them, you will tell them so politely. And if you 
have, then you will give them some at once, also water. And when they 
arrive at their house, they will praise your goodness, and you will have a 
good name. And if a rattlesnake should bite you far off in the field, you 
will be able to arrive at your house. But if you should be wicked and heed 
less, you will not arrive; right there you will die in the field. And people 
will say that you are heedless, and that for that reason the rattlesnake 
bit you. 

See this, this is a black-spider, this is going to bite you. Do not steal 
food of overnight, do not eat hurriedly when you are hungry. Also when 
you rise in the early morning you will bathe in the water, and you will 
always be active, and you will win when you run races. And the people will 
praise you, and you will shout, and will throw away food. And you will not 
eat much, or your body is going to be heavy, and you will get tired when 
you run races, and you will sting your foot w y ith nettle. 

See this, this (apmikat) is alive, this is going to break you, this is going 
to lame you, this is going to cause you to have boils on your body, this is 
going to make you blind, this is going to give you consumptive cough. In 
the early morning you will bathe, and if illness comes it will pass you by, 
also blood (i.e., blood-vomiting sickness). 

When you die your spirit will rise to the sky, and people will blow (three 
times) and will make rise your spirit. And everywhere it will be heard that 
you have died. And you will drink bitter medicine, and will vomit, and 
your inside will be clean, and illness will pass you by, and you will grow old, 

224 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

if you heed this speech. This is what the people of long ago used to talk, 
that they used to counsel their sons and daughters. In this manner you 
will counsel your sons and daughters. 

This is the breaker, this is going to kill you. Heed this speech and you 
will grow old. And they will say of you: He grew old because he heeded 
what he was told. And if you die at some future time you will be spoken 
of as those of the sky, like the stars. Those it is said were people, who 
went to the sky and escaped death. And like those will rise your soul 
(towish). In this manner you will counsel your sons and daughters, should 
you have any. Pay heed to this speech, that was spoken by the people of 
long ago. 

See this, this is going to splinter you, this is going to give notice what 
you do, this is going to see you, this is going to know if you have bad 
thoughts. And if you marry, you will not approach your wife when she is 
menstruating. The rattlesnake is going to bite you, the stick is going to 
splinter you, consumption is going to catch you, the earth and sky are going 
to see if you do anything bad. Listen to this speech and you will grow up 
and become old. And you will think well of your elder relations, and they 
will say of you: He is good, whose son is he? In this manner you will 
counsel your sons and daughters. 

And if a bear or panther will wish to catch you, they will not overtake 
you. And if a rattlesnake or black-spider should bite you, you will not die. 
But if you are heedless and a despiser, right there you will die. And your 
spirit (heart) will not rise to the north, or your soul (towish) to the sky. 


On arriving at the age of puberty a girl had formerly to 
undergo certain rites. A hole was dug in the ground several feet 
deep. In this stones were placed and a fire built to heat them. 
The stones were afterwards covered with coarse grass or brush, 
on top of which the girl was placed and covered over. She was 
kept here for three days and nights, only being taken out a short 
time each night to be fed, during which interval the stones were 
also reheated. During the time she was in the pit, dancing and 
singing was kept up around it. Several girls might be placed 
in the pit at the same time. It was only necessary that one of 
them should be of the correct age, the others might be younger. 
But it was imperative that all should belong to the same clan or 
family. The feast-chief of the clan to which the girl or girls 
belonged never performed the rites himself, but employed an 
other who understood them to do so. As in the case of the boys 
ceremony this was usually the feast-chief of another clan, though 

1908] SparJcman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 225 

any one outside of his own clan who understood the rites might 
be employed. 

At the conclusion of the period during which the girl re 
mained in the pit, her face was painted, and a similar painting 
was also made on a rock. At the end of a month the girl s face 
was painted in a different manner, and a similar painting was 
added to the first painting made on the rock. This was repeated 
every month for a year, each month a different painting being 
placed on the girl s face, and a similar one added to the original 
one on the rock. During this year the girl was prohibited from 
eating either meat or salt. At its close other rites were per 
formed, and a lecture or counsel was given to the girl on much 
the same lines as that given to the boys. She was cautioned 
against being stingy, against dissembling, and against looking 
sidewise. She was also told not to eat jackrabbit or venison. 
After this lecture the girl was freed from all restrictions. 

The girls rites have not been performed in the upper San 
Luis Rey valley since 1890, and even then only a part of them 
were performed. The boys rites have not been performed for 
about forty years. The prohibition of eating venison, jackrabbit, 
and chia was perhaps made because the old people wished these 
delicacies to be reserved for themselves. 11 The opening left on 
the north side of the circle of the ground-painting is symbolical 
of the direction the soul of a good person is supposed to take as 
it rises to the sky. 

The following is a translation of the lecture or counsel given 
to girls at the puberty ceremonial, yuninish, literally "sprin 

See, these are alive, these will think well of you if you believe; and if 
you do not believe, they are going to kill you, if you are heedless, a dis 
sembler, or stingy. You must not look sideways, must not receive a person 
in your house with anger, it is not proper. You will drink hot water when 
you menstruate, and when you are pregnant you will drink bitter medicine. 

This will cause you to have your child quickly, as your inside will be 
clean. And you will roast yourself at the fire (after childbirth), and then 
your son or daughter will grow up quickly, and sickness will not approach 
you. But if you are heedless you will not bear your child quickly, and people 
will speak of your heedlessness. 

11 This may have been partly true, but in the main no doubt, if the Lui- 
senos were like other uncivilized people, genuine religious beliefs were the 
principal motive. 

226 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Etlin. [Vol. 8 

Your elder relations you must think well of, you will also welcome your 
daughters-in-law and your brothers-in-law when they arrive at your house. 
Pay heed to this speech, and at some future time you will go to their house, 
and they are going to welcome you politely at their house. Do not rob food 
of overnight; if you have a child it will make him costive, it is also going 
to make your stomach swell, your eyes are also going to granulate. Pay 
attention to this speech, do not eat venison or jackrabbit, or your eyes are 
going to granulate, and people are going to know what you have done by 
your eyes. And as your son or daughter will grow up, you will bathe in 
water, and your hair will grow long, and you will not feel cold, and you will 
be fat, if you bathe in water. And after the puberty rite you will not 
scratch yourself with your hands, you will scratch yourself with a stick, 
your body is going to have pimples if you scratch yourself with your hands. 
Do not neglect to paint yourself, and people will see you, and you will grow 
old, if you pay attention to this speech, and you will see your sons and 

See these old men and women, these are those who paid attention to this 
counsel, which is of the grown-up people, and they have already reached old 
age. Do not forget this that I am telling you, pay heed to this speech, and 
when you are old like these old people, you will counsel your sons and daugh 
ters in like manner, and you will die old. And your spirit will rise north 
wards to the sky, like the stars, moon, and sun. Perhaps they will speak of 
you and will blow (three times) and (thereby) cause to rise your spirit and 
soul to the sky. 


After the death of a husband his wife used to cut her hair 
short as a sign of mourning. Some follow this custom still. If 
a person was unmarried, some near relative might cut her hair 
off. A grandmother may do this on the death of a grandchild. 
Men never cut their hair as a sign of mourning. 

When a person dies people blow three times, with the idea of 
assisting his soul or spirit (heart) to rise to the sky. 

Before the arrival of the friars the dead were always cre 

A religious ceremony of much importance is that of burning 
the clothes of deceased persons. This is generally held one year 
after their death. Some clans have now given up this practice, 
but others still keep it up. When the clothes of a person are to 
be burnt, the feast-chief of that clan does not perform the cere 
mony himself, but employs some one else to do so, usually the 
feast-chief of another clan. Large quantities of calico, and some 
times other articles, are given away at these ceremonies by those 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 227 

of the deceased person s clan. But those of the same clan are 
not given any of these articles, only those of the clan of him who 
performs the ceremonies for the feast-chief. 

At the image ceremony images are made of deceased relatives 
and are burnt. It is customary to give away many articles at 
this ceremony, but those of the clan to whom the deceased people 
belong do not receive any of the gifts. 

Another religious ceremony which was formerly of great im 
portance was the killing of an eagle or condor, usually the former. 
Usually a young eagle was taken from the nest when nearly full 
grown, and kept for some time in captivity, the feast-chief of 
the clan having charge of it, though others were expected to 
contribute food towards its support, such as rabbits and ground- 
squirrels, or, in more recent times, fowls if the former were not 
available. Sometimes an eagle might be shot for this ceremony, 
but a live bird was much preferred. 

The golden eagle has regular nesting places, to which it is 
said to return every other year. Some of these places were con 
sidered to be the property of the clan, and it was not permissible 
for another clan to take eagles from them. 

228 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 



The following is a list of plants known to have been utilized 
by the Luisenos for various purposes, with their Luisefio, botan 
ical, and English names when known. 

The writer is under obligations to Miss Alice Eastwood of the 
California Academy of Sciences for the identification of these 
plants. The equivalent Cahuilla names are from Dr. D. P. 
Barrows Ethno-Botany of the Cahuilla Indians of Southern 

Compositae. Sunflower Family. 

Ambrosia artemisiaefolia. Pachavut. Used as an emetic. 

Artemisia dracunuloides. Wachish. 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 
buds are also eaten raw. 

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

Malacothrix Calif ornica. 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 

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

Heterotheca grandiflora. Humut. The mainshafts of arrows are some 
times 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 

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. 

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 229 

Cucurbit aceae. 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, chilicothe. A purgative is 
made from the roots. The seeds are used in the manufacture of a red paint. 

Capri foliaceae. Honeysuckle Family. 

Sartibucus 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, 

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. Ca 
huilla, pivat-isil, "coyote tobacco," Nicotiana attenuata. 

Datura meteloides. Naktomush. Jimson-weed, thorn-apple; Spanish, to- 
loache. 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 es 
teemed 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 

Eamona (Awdibertia) polystacliya. Kashil. White sage. The tops of 
the stems when tender are peeled and eaten uncooked. The seeds are eaten. 

230 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

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, chilse. 

Philibertia 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 pur 

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

1908] Sparkman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 231 

Malvaceae. Mallow Family. 

Sidalcea malvaeflora. Pashangal. Wild hollyhock. Used as greens. 
Malvastrum 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. 

Ehus 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 ornicus. Shuikawut. Said to be used to procure abortion. 
Euphorbia polycarpa. Kenhamal. Spanish, Yerba golondrina. Keputed 
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 juliftora. Ela. Mesquite. The beans are ground into meal and 
used for food to a limited extent in some localities. Cahuilla, Prosopis pu- 
bescens, mesquite screw, kwinyal. 

232 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

Rosaceae. Rose Family. 

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

Rubus parviflorus. Pavlash. Thimbleberry. The fruit is eaten. 

Eubus 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, 

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

Saxifragaceae. Saxifrage Family. 

Eibes indecorum or malvaceum. Kawa wal. The root is used to cure 

Eibes speciosum. 

Crassulaceae. Stonecrop Family. 

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

Cruciferae. Mustard Family. 

Brassica nigra. No Luiseno 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 aequilaterale. Panavut. Fig marigold. The fruit 
is eaten. 

Portulacaceae. Purslane Family. 

Portulaca oleracea. Pokut. Common purslane. Used for greens. 
Calandrinia caulescens. Puchakla. Eed 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. 

1908] Sparlcman. Culture of the Luiseno Indians. 233 

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. 

Saururaceae. Lizard-tail Family. 

Houttuynia (Anemopsis) Calif ornica. 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. 

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

Cupuliferae. Oak Family. 

Quercus Calif ornica. 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 Calif ornica. A gambling toy is made from the large acorn- 
cups of this oak. 

Quercus dumosa. Pawish. Acorns little esteemed for food. The gall- 
nuts are used to doctor sores and wounds. They are said to possess power 
fully 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 Calif ornica. 

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

Salicaceae. Willow Family. 

Populus Fremonti (probably). Avahut. Cottonwood. Inner bark for 
merly 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. 

234 University of California Publications in Am. Arch, and Ethn. [Vol. 8 

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. 

Juncaceae. 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. Cahuilla, pahankis. 

Epicampes rig ens Calif ornica. Yulalish. The body of the coil of Lui 
seno baskets is composed of this grass. Cahuilla, Cinna macroura (syn 
onym), suul. 


Pellaea ornithopus. Wikunmal. Tea fern, bird-claw fern. 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 in 
juries to the body. 

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



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