Ethnography of the Cahuilla Indians, by A. L. Kroeber, , at sacred-texts.com
A bow and two or three arrows will frequently be found in a Cahuilla house. They are used for small game. As Dr. Barrows has said, the bow is apt to be shown with an apology and an explanation of the superior qualities of those made by the forefathers. Both bow and arrow are of the same type as those of the Mohave. The bow is usually of willow. The University collections however contain one made of harder wood, perhaps mesquite, and another made from the stem of a palm leaf. According to Dr. Barrows the bows of former days, at any rate the better
ones, were made of mesquite. 18 At the present day bows are all four to four and a half feet long, an inch and an eighth or an inch and a quarter wide, and three-quarters to seven-eighths of an inch in greatest thickness. The better made ones are roughly squared in cross section. Others are more rounded, and some of these are still covered with red willow-bark on the back or outside. One specimen is nothing but the split half of a willow stick. No sinew backing has been found. There is very little taper in either width or thickness from the middle of the bow to the ends. This comparatively long, narrow, and thick unbacked bow, most frequently made of willow, corresponds exactly with the Mohave bow. The string is still occasionally made of mescal fibre or sinew, but more modern substitutes, including iron wire, are common.
The arrows are of two types, being made either of a straight shaft of wood sharpened at the end, or of cane with a wooden foreshaft. The wooden arrow is typical of the Mohave, while the cane arrow is attributed by them to the neighboring Chemehuevi and Paiute of Shoshonean stock. At the present day the wooden arrow seems more frequent among the Cahuilla. Being used only for small game, neither form has a stone or metal point. It is not unlikely that such may have been the custom also in old days, even in the case of arrows intended for war. The Mohave state that stone arrow-points were not regularly used by them, and that their ordinary war arrow was the simple sharpened shaft of wood. They appear to regard the stone arrow-point as typical of their Shoshonean neighbors.
The Cahuilla wooden arrow is said by Dr. Barrows to be made from wormwood, Artemisia ludoviciana. This is similar to the plant used by the Mohave, Pluchea sericea. The arrow is about three feet long. One end is sharpened, the other notched and feathered. All the arrows seen had only two feathers. This may be due to their-being intended only for small game. The Mohave used a two-feather arrow for similar inferior purposes, but a three-feathered one for war. The feathering on the Cahuilla arrows is applied as follows: a feather is split down the quill; each half is then laid against opposite sides of the shaft
and the ends fastened down by a sinew wrapping. Each half-feather is not in line with the shaft but is given a quarter twist around it.
The cane arrow is similarly notched and feathered. It consists of three or four joints of cane three-eighths or half an inch in diameter. At the front end a piece of wood is let into the hollow cane, which is then wrapped about with sinew. This piece of wood, which tapers to a point, projects from the cane some six or eight inches. In a set with two arrows of this type obtained at Banning is a third one, similarly made but with a shaft of unjointed rush replacing the jointed cane. The cane arrow is usually somewhat longer than the wooden one.
The digging stick of the Cahuilla calls for no special comment, being as elsewhere merely a sharpened stick of hard wood. A specimen obtained is four feet long and an inch and a half in diameter.
The Cahuilla flute, like that of all the Indians of California, is of the entirely open variety. It consists of a piece of cane a foot and a half long which can be looked through like a pipe. The mouth end is ground or otherwise brought to an edge at an angle of about forty-five degrees. There are four stops or holes of small size. Whether consciously or unconsciously, these are grouped into two pairs, the distance between the pairs, that is to say, between the two middle holes, being somewhat greater than between the two holes in each pair. Of two flutes in the University collections both show this grouping of the stops. The distance between the stops varies from somewhat less than two to somewhat more than two and a half inches. The distances are not exactly equal, and yet not sufficiently varied to give any appearance of design. It is not probable that they are constructed with any clear idea of the dependence of tone intervals upon the distance between them, but merely by eye or by some convenient rule of thumb. When played, the flute is held against the mouth at somewhat of an angle, not taken between the lips. The sound is produced by the column of air from the mouth striking the sharpened upper edge. The melodies have a peculiarly fascinating character. They are sweet and plaintive, though the tone intervals are likely to be arbitrary.
So far as is at present known, the straight open flute is the only one known in any part of aboriginal California. Only among the Mohave of the Colorado river does a flageolet appear in addition.
A curved throwing stick used for rabbits and birds, and a war club of potato-masher form, are mentioned by Dr. Barrows as having been used by the Cahuilla. 19 Like the pottery, they are of ethnographical interest in having been made both by the Indians of Southern California and those of the Pueblo region.
The carrying net (Pl. 11) is an important Cahuilla implement, still employed occasionally, and making it possible for the Cahuilla to dispense with the deep conical burden basket found in most other parts of California, as in the carrying net a shallower basket can be conveniently transported. The net is made of string with meshes four to five inches square. Among the Diegueño and Luiseño the carrying net is smaller, the string slenderer, and the meshes finer. The general shape of the net is that of a small broad hammock. At the two ends the net is gathered on a ring or loop of heavier cord or rope. These loops are six or eight inches in diameter. One of these rope rings has a loose end several feet long. This is passed through the other loop to join the net, much like a saddle cinch between its two rings. In this way the size of the net can be increased or diminished. The wide portion of the net, which is behind the back, contains the basket or object carried. The rope passes over the basketry cap worn by the carrier. In the desert the net seems all to be made of mescal-leaf fibre. In San Gorgonio pass a softer glossy material is employed, a string made from "wish," given by Dr. Barrows as the common reed, Phragmites communis. 20
Sandals of mescal fibre are still used, especially on the desert. (Pl. 10.) They are said to be worn principally by men when out-doors at night. These sandals consist of a half-inch pad of mescal fibres held to the foot with strips of the same fibre, or by thongs. They serve as an efficient protection against
thorns. The manner of construction is not quite clear. It would appear that the fibres are bent around a cord which follows the outline of the foot, and are in some way joined or fastened along the middle of the sandal. There is no distinct weave or textile process. Among six or eight different forms of sandal in the University collections from cliff dwellings in southern Utah and Colorado (Pl. 12), there is none resembling this Cahuilla form. All these cliff-dweller sandals are made by some method of basketry or cord weaving. The strings which hold the Cahuilla sandal to the foot are not tied each time the sandal is worn, but are so arranged that the foot can be slipped into them. The strings in front pass on the two sides of the second toe, or of the second and third toes. The general arrangement is shown in the illustration.
A similar sandal, but of rawhide instead of mescal fibre, was obtained from the Chemehuevi at Cabezon. A loop of string at the back of this sandal serves as a heel strap. At the front there are two cords. These are passed on the two sides of the second toe. They are then crossed, brought backward, and passed under the heel strap, brought forward again, and tied over the instep.
A third form of footwear consists of a high moccasin of soft skin without ornament. A pair of such moccasins was secured from the Cahuilla at Cabezon.
The familiar California soaproot-fibre brush used for cleaning baskets of meal, and also as a comb, is not a Cahuilla implement. Dr. Barrows mentions brushes of mescal. fibre. 21 The Serrano at San Manuel use the soaproot brush, but the Luiseño, Diegueño, and Mohave agree with the Cahuilla in making their brushes of other materials than this. 22 The only other tribes in California known not to use a form of soaproot brush, are the Porno and southern Wintun, who employ anise-root fibres for this purpose. 23
58:18 Barrows, 49.
60:19 Barrows, 50.
60:20 Barrows, 47. According to the late Mr. Sparkman, the Luiseño called Indian hemp, Apocynum cannabinum, by the dialectically equivalent name wicha.
61:21 Barrows, 47, 54.
61:22 According to specimens in the University museum.
61:23 According to specimens in the University museum.