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|Current Tuleyome Tales - Civilization at Clear Lake|
Page 4 of 13
“Civilization at Clear Lake”
by John Parker, Ph.D., Registered Professional Archaeologist
It is a calm, cold fall morning. The sounds of a barking dog and the voices of children echo across the lake. From somewhere, the low pitched drumming of a stone pestle pounding soft nuts can be heard. Wisps of smoke are seen rising from dome-shaped houses that cover the south end of Rattlesnake Island (though it will be 500 years before it will have the name “Rattlesnake Island”). In 1500 AD, it is called ‘Elem and for 5,000 years, this island has been the political center for the Kaogóma (Cow-goo-mah) tribe (Southeastern Pomo).
Standing with us on the shore is Wokox. He lives at the ‘Elem village on the island. As we are visitors, he explains that his people live on and fish the lake year-round. Each tribe in his area has its political and religious center on an island (‘Kamdot, on Anderson Island and ‘Koi on Indian Island). He says his island village contains 20 homes where most of the Elem people live. These people represent the four extended families in his tribe. There are two over-flow villages on the mainland where the rest of the ‘Elem people live. The one closest to ‘Elem Island is called Xuna-dai. His island village also contains a large ceremonial building (dance house) that can seat the entire village and a smaller sweathouse where the leaders and many of the village men spend much of the winter.
Wokox explains the ‘Elem Tribe has no “single” chief, but four leaders with equal rank; one from each extended family. These leaders (Balakui) are not wealthy, but hold their positions of leadership based on family ties and the general agreement of the whole community. He tells us these leaders are civil and ceremonial officials, spending their time instructing the community on the honorable way to live. They settle disputes between families, plan and officiate ceremonial gatherings, and negotiate agreements with neighboring tribes. Their families hunt, fish, and gather food for them, so they can conduct civic duties.
Though the island belongs to the whole community, each family owns a private tract of land on the mainland. Each tract extends from the lakeshore to the uplands. These tracts contain acorn bearing oak trees, manzanita, willow, tule and other food plants owned by the family. Each villager knows the boundaries of each family’s tract. Wokox says tribal members can hunt and fish on anyone’s land, but collecting stationary resources from another's tract is forbidden unless permission has been granted.
Everyone knows how to hunt, fish, make stone tools, baskets, nets and other implements. However, in each extended family there are one or more professionals who excel in these trades. If food is needed to feed guests at a wedding, a professional hunter or fisherman is hired to get the food and paid in shell-bead money. If someone is sick, a professional doctor is hired. Though food resources are traded for other food resources, payment for professional service or manufactured items is usually made with shell-bead money.
The ‘Elem people of Rattlesnake Island and others around Clear Lake were the money-makers for Northern California. Washington clams gathered on the shores of Bodega Bay were traded inland to Clear Lake where local artisans cut, ground, and drilled the shell into small disks. Strings of beads were the money used throughout the state for at least 5,000 years. In addition to being the money-makers, the Clear Lake people controlled the Borax Lake obsidian flow, one of the richest stone tool material sources in northern California. These two distinctions insured that the Clear Lake Pomo had a prominent place in the California trade and exchange network.
14,000 years of human experience in the Clear Lake Basin led to the culture described above. For further reading try “Clear Lake Pomo Society” by Edward Winslow Gifford and “Pomo Geography by Fred Kniffen.
Tuleyome Tales is a monthly publication of Tuleyome, a conservation organization with offices in Woodland and Napa, California. For more information go online to www.tuleyome.org. For 42 years, Tuleyome supporter and archaeologist Dr. John Parker has been studying Lake County's prehistory. To learn more, go to www.wolfcreekarcheology.com
Tuleyome Tales: Making your garden native bee friendly
Photo Male Teddy Bear Bee - Xylocopa varipunct - by Allan Jones
By MARY K. HANSON
Most likely you recognize the European honey bees when you see them, but did you know that California also boasts over 1600 species of native bees? There are actually over 300 species just in Yolo County alone, and like honey bees, these guys lend a significant hand in pollinating local crops.
Recognizing many of the native bee species may be a little difficult for those of us without an entomology background, but there are some real standouts like the Blue Orchard Bees, the Metallic Sweat Bees, and the Valley Carpenter Bees which at about 1-inch in length are the largest bees in California. The female Carpenter Bees are shiny black, but the stingless males are fat, fuzzy and golden blond with large green compound eyes. They are often referred to as "Teddy Bear Bees."
At the Häagen-Dazs Honey Bee Haven in Davis, I was lucky enough to speak with Dr. Robbin Thorp about bee conservation and how we can all help to preserve the species that are native to our region... and I also got up close to some of the Teddy Bear Bees. Some bee species are dwindling in numbers due to loss of habitat, disease and malnutrition. In northern California, for example, four species of bumblebees are already on the endangered list and one, the Franklin's Bumblebee, may now be extinct. The good news is that it's not too late to help our native bees. You can even create native-bee-friendly zones right in your own backyard.
Unlike honey bees that live together in massive colonies, native bees are generally solitary and unobtrusive guests. They live in small burrows in the ground or in narrow tunnels in wood. In your garden, you can encourage native bees to nest by providing them with patches of sunny, untilled, well-drained soil to burrow into. Or you can set up "bee condos" for them by drilling tunnels into chunks of wood, and setting those up in your garden.
After mating, the female bee will enter her underground hideout or the bee condo you've created, and will lay her eggs on little balls of doughy pollen. She'll then seal up the brood chamber with mud, pieces of leaves or resin so the babies are safe and well fed while they're developing.
Most native bees don't live for more than a season, and they spend a lot of time in their burrows while they're maturing, so you may only see them on the wing for a month or two. The best time to see the Teddy Bear Bees, for example, is between May and June in the late afternoon. Keep in mind that while the female bees have stingers, they usually only use them if they get trapped somewhere (like inside your clothing).
Dr. Thorp reminds us that native bees are "vegans" who need sugar from nectar and protein from pollen to survive, so planting a garden with that in mind will help to sustain the bees in your area. Almond trees, apple trees, acacia, germander and salvia plants produce a lot of flowers the bees really go for. They also like thyme, rosemary and most forms of daisy-like flowers. If you're planting rose bushes, keep in mind that there isn't enough pollen in the fancy multi-petal hybrid roses to feed the bees; they need roses with the simple five-petal blossoms on them that have lots of anthers. Plant for blooms throughout the year and you'll always have a supply of food for the bees. All of this will help ensure pollination of your flowers and fruit trees, and will turn your backyard into a friendly place for the bees to be!
Tuleyome thanks Dr. Robbin Thorp for his assistance with this article, and Allan Jones for the use of his beautiful photograph. Tuleyome Tales is a monthly publication of Tuleyome, conservation organization with offices in Woodland and Napa, CA. For more information about Tuleyome, go to www.tuleyome.org. Mary K. Hanson is an amateur naturalist and photographer who is currently serves as Executive Assistant to Tuleyome's Executive Director.