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Miwok Studies

Trade and Food

One of the practices that the Miwok took on from the original inhabitants of the Valley was an annual trek to the higher, even more remote backcountry to the east of the Yosemite Valley, which they called the Ah-wah-nee. These higher elevations were not livable in the winter due to harsh weather. So each spring and summer, the Miwok would make a seasonal journey through these remote backcountry mountains and cross over to the Mono Lake-side of the Sierras where they traded with the Mono Indians. For the Miwok, these were not people of the same ancestral lineage, but through inter-marriage with the original inhabitants of the Ahwahnee Valley, became through marriage relatives that they enjoyed trading with every year.

The dwellers of the Ahwahnee brought black oak acorns and ---- and the Mono Indians, who had neither, traded salt, pine nuts, insects, and obsidian ( important as a hard black shiny rock for tool making ). This trade router took the Miwok through the higher backcountry to follow herds of deer, which were caught and prepared as dried meat for winter stores. The Miwok would reach a crest on the eastern side of the Sierras, and a group of the Mono would meet them there each year and bring them chunks of obsidian, Dried insects gathered from Mono Lake or from the Jeffrey Pines that grew on the eastern slopes of the Sierras, and pine nuts which were not available in the interior Ahwahnee Valley.

In their own valley year round there were food sources avialble. The Yosemite Miwok also gathered grass seeds, stored their own black oak acorns in chuk-ahs, which were woven granaries raised off the floor on wooden platforms, became expert at catching trout and deer, gathered berries ( manzanita - which made a favored cider - raspberries, thimbleberries, strawberries, currants, gooseberries and cherries ) and mushrooms, and trapped small game ( squirrels and rabbits, and birds ).