Coast Miwok facts for kids
Modern reconstructions of Coast Miwok shelters at Kule Loklo.
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The Coast Miwok are an indigenous people that was the second largest group of Miwok people. The Coast Miwok inhabited the general area of modern Marin County and southern Sonoma County in Northern California, from the Golden Gate north to Duncans Point and eastward to Sonoma Creek. The Coast Miwok included the Bodega Bay Miwok from authenticated Miwok villages around Bodega Bay and Marin Miwok.
The Coast Miwok spoke their own Coast Miwok language. They lived by hunting and gathering, and lived in small bands without centralized political authority. In the springtime they would head to the coasts to hunt salmon and other seafood, including seaweed. Otherwise their staple foods were primarily acorns and wild game. When hunting deer, Miwok hunters traditionally used Brewer's angelica, Angelica breweri to eliminate their own scent. Miwok did not typically hunt bears. Yerba buena tea leaf were used medicinally.
Tattooing was a traditional practice among Coast Miwok, and they burned poison-oak for a pigment. Their traditional houses, called "kotcha" were constructed with slabs of tule grass or redwood bark in a cone-shaped form.
Miwok people are skilled at basketry. A recreated Coast Miwok village called Kule Loklo is located at the Point Reyes National Seashore.
Documentation of Miwok peoples dates back as early as 1579 by a priest on a ship under the command of Sir Francis Drake. Other verification of occupancy exists from Spanish and Russian voyagers between 1595 and 1808. Over 1000 prehistoric charmstones and numerous arrowheads have been unearthed at Tolay Lake in Southern Sonoma County - some dating back 4000 years. The lake was thought to be a sacred site and ceremonial gathering and healing place for the Miwok and others in the region.
After the Europeans arrived in California, the population declined from diseases introduced by the Europeans. In 1837, a smallpox epidemic decimated all the native populations of the Sonoma region, and the Coast Miwok population continued to decline rapidly from other diseases brought in from the Spaniards as well as the Russians at Fort Ross.
By the beginning of California statehood (1850), many Miwok of Marin and Sonoma Counties were making the best of a difficult situation by earning their livelihoods through farm labor or fishing within their traditional homelands. Others chose to work as seasonal or year-round laborers on the ranches that were rapidly passing from Mexican ownership into Anglo-American ownership.
The Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria, formerly the Federated Coast Miwok, gained federal recognition of their tribal status in December 2000. The new tribe consists of people of both Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo descent.
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