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The Gabrielino Traders


The Gabrielinos on Santa Catalina were miners of *soapstone*, also called steatite, which produced the pliable stone material for their production of watertight vessels used in cooking, storage and ceremony, and for carving ceremonial and decorative objects. Steatite was quarried in considerable quantity at Pots Valley on Santa Catalina, up to 300 quarry pits having been found in a two square mile area on the south eastern end of Santa Catalina. The Gabrielinos soapstone bowls were highly sought after items for trade, and the soapstone was exported to other tribes where it was carved into pipes and fetishes reflecting different tribal or clan totems ( protecting animal spirits ).

The mainland Gabrielinos traded seeds, deer hide, rabbit skins, islay ( wild cherries), obsidian points, pine nuts, and chia seeds to the islanders, who offered in return chunks of steatite for carving - or steatite already shaped into bowls. Pipes, animal effigies, or digging stick weights, and sea otter or seal skins and shell jewelry.

Looking inland, the Gabrielino also traded with the Cahuilla and Mojave in the high desert to the East, and the Juaneno and Luiseno to the South, creating a broader range of materials - like woven cotton, fired pottery, and mineral pigments for painting - that were traded between the mainland and island villagers. They in turn received shell beads, steatite and asphaltum that were taken back to the high desert.



Gabrielino Words