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The Eagle Dance by Marie Potts


Ethnogeography of the Honey Lake Maidu

Courtesy of William Simmons

Originally published in a different form in the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, vol. 19 no. 1, pp 2-31 (1997)

The Northeastern Maidu, also known as the Mountain Maidu, live around a series of mountain valleys primarily in the drainage of the North Fork of the Feather River in the northern Sierra Nevada. These valleys include the American Valley near Quincy, Indian Valley near Greenville, Genesee Valley near Taylorsville, Big Meadows (now covered by Lake Almanor) and Mountain Meadows near Westwood, and Honey Lake Valley across the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada near Susanville. In addition to the Maidu, the Maiduan language family includes the Konkow of the Sacramento Valley and foothills to the west and the Nisenan or Southern Maidu to the south. Estimates of the entire Maiduan population in late prehistoric times vary between about 4,000 and 9,000 persons, with the Maidu (i.e., the Northeastern or Mountain Maidu) numbering perhaps less than 3,000 (Dixon 1905:132; Kroeber 1925:394; Riddell 1978a:386).

Roxie Peconom in 1958

In the late prehistoric and early historical periods, the Maidu wintered mainly in permanent villages, usually on the sloping hillsides where they could look out over the flat valley floors. In summer they moved around, living in temporary camps. According to Dixon (1905:201), "in the mountains there was...the annual change from the settled winter life in the earth lodges and permanent homes along the streams, to the wandering summer life on the ridges in temporary shelters; but the area traversed in the wandering was very restricted, and each village, or group of villages, guarded very jealously the territory it considered its own."


After he visited the American Valley Maidu in 1906, Merriam (1967:307) commented that it was "interesting to note that the Indians, as is their custom, have selected the warmest and driest place on the borders of the valley for their home - a place that receives the maximum sunshine." Noting the positioning of archaeological sites in the Mountain Meadows area above Susanville to the west, McMillin (1963:61) also observed that "most sites were favorably located to benefit from the morning sun."


For subsistence, the Maidu depended primarily on acorns, seeds berries, and roots, as well as on deer, pronghorn, wild fowl, and fish. Their political and social universe was defined mainly by the village or tribelet community, which consisted of a small group of neighboring villages under the authority of a male chief. Dixon (1905:224) observed that the area owned by each Maidu community was "very definite, and its exact limits were known and marked." At one time, the Maidu possessed a rich and complex oral tradition that began with the contest between Earthmaker (K'odojapem) and Coyote (Wepam wajsim) at creation and following the flood (Dixon 1912; Shipley 1991). In his studies of Maidu oral tradition, Dixon (1905: 344) found "a complete absence, apparently, of any sort of migration legend, all portions of the stock declaring emphatically that they originated precisely in their present homes."



The Maidu were not directly affected by Spanish and Mexican penetration into the Sacramento Valley, and whites did not enter their homeland in significant numbers until the immigrant surge through the Lassen Trail in 1849. Permanent white settlement in Honey Lake Valley began with the construction of Isaac Roop's log house in 1854. Although precise figures are lacking, Maidu population decline after the Gold Rush seems to have been precipitous; by the turn of the century, they may have numbered around 300 persons (Riddell 1978a:386). Perhaps 500 to 600 persons of partial Maidu ancestry live today in the Plumas and Lassen County homelands. Only a few of these can speak or understand the language (Shipley 1963:1-2, 1964:1)




Previous Research

Referring to the entire Maiduan language family, including the Konkow and Nisenan, Powers (1877:282) wrote that the Maidu constitute "a large nation, extending from the Sacramento to Honey Lake, and from Big Chico Creek to Bear River." According to Powers, those who lived at Susanville were known as Ku-lo-mum.

The authors of the two most important early histories of Lassen County did not consider the Maidu to be indigenous to the Honey Lake valley. Basing their 1882 book in part on data collected by an attorney, Edmund R. Dodge, Fariss and Smith (Hutchinson 1971:378) wrote that, "the Indians with whom the people of this valley came in contact were of the Washoe (Wasso), Pah-ute, and Pit River tribes." In his history of Lassen County, Fairfield (1916:13) attested that the Washoe and Paiutes claimed the Honey Lake Valley when the area was first settled by whites. He added, however, that "In the spring of 1857, 'Old Tom' and 'Old Charley', Indian Valley Indians, and their families lived in the upper part of Honey Lake valley, and may have been there three or four years before that." The Indian Valley Indians were Maidu; thus we assume that Old Tom and Old Charley were Maidu. In their account of the Papoose Valley massacre of 1866, Fariss and Smith (Hutchinson 1971:384) reported that Old Tom (Captain Tom) was a Honey Lake valley Indian and that he was the "chief of the band of Indians living in Honey Lake valley." Whether Old Tom was 'chief' of all Indians of Honey Lake Valley, or only of one band among several, is not clear. These two histories suggest that Maidu were living in Honey Lake Valley when whites first settled there in 1854 and that a Maidu had political authority over all or at least a significant group of Indians living there in 1866.


According to Wemple (1972), his grandfather, Irvin Decious, who came to the valley in 1863, indicated that the Paiute and Maidu both lived in Honey Lake Valley at the time of early white settlement:

Grandfather [Irvin Decious] said that there were two tribes of Indians in the valley, and of course this is more or less common knowledge now. The Paiutes and the tribe that the early settlers called the Diggers, whose tribal name was the Maidus.... The Maidu Indian were of a different build [than the Paiutes] - shorter and more muscular and "tough customers" in a wrestling match. There was one, also known as Doc-Doc Sampson, who could throw any white man in the valley [Wemple 1972:6].


Based on field observations among the Maidu in the summers of 1899, 1900, 1902 and 1903, Dixon (1905: 24) noted that Maidu occupation extended throughout the valley to the east of Honey Lake:

The whole valley of Susan Creek was also within their control, although permanent settlements did not exist far above the present town of Susanville. Pine Creek and Eagle Lake were continuously visited by hunting parties, and were some what doubtfully regarded as also a part of Maidu territory. Beyond Willow Creek, however, they never ventured. The entire valley of Honey Lake is said to have been permanently occupied in early times by the Maidu, and it is declared emphatically that no Paiutes were settled there until after the coming of the first white immigrants, or just before.


Dixon (1905:124, note 3) further observed that "The Maidu assert very definitely that Honey Lake Valley was in their control, although names of village sites in that area were not given." Honey Lake Valley was a key location in the Maidu oral tradition that Dixon (1902:93-94, 100: 1912:67, 173, 201) recorded at Genesee in 1902 and 1903.

Kroeber (1925:391) gave a less definitive version of Maidu territorial claims, asserting that:

Susan Creek and the Susanville region have usually been ascribed to the Maidu, but there are Atsugewi claims. Eagle Lake has been variously attributed to the Atsugewi, the Achomawi, and the Northern Paiute. Atsugewi ownership seems most likely. Honey Lake was not far from where Maidu, Paiute and Washo met. It seems not to have had permanent villages, and may have been visited by all three of the tribes in question.

In the course of her field research on the 1870 Ghost Dance, Du Bois (1939) interviewed Roxie Peconom, a Honey Lake Maidu, in Susanville, sometime between 1932 and 1934. Peconom was born in the village of Wetajam around 1851, about the time whites began to settle in this region

When I was about thirteen years old... we were all camped at Willard's place, southwest of Susanville, to gather roots. Some Paiutes came to our village near Janesville. Everybody was away gathering roots, so Lamb Samson and Jim Holsom brought the Paiutes to Willard's place where we were camping. The Paiutes sang and danced all night around a fire. They said the dead were coming back and an Indian doctor had told them to do this. After that the Paiutes turned around and went back to their own country. Our people never believed in this. They said no one could bring the dead back (Du Bois 1939:39).

In 1949, William Evans interviewed Roxie Peconom and her daughter, Leona Peconom Morales, in Susanville about the Honey Lake Maidu. Based on these interviews, Evans (1978:3) described the Maidu geographical setting:

The territory of the Northeastern Maidu, as it was conceived of by Roxie and her daughter, Leona, included the Honey Lake basin, possibly extending as far south as Doyle, the mountainous region northward to include Eagle Lake, though not neighboring Horse Lake, and westward to take in Mountain Meadows and Big Meadow....The winter season was spent in the vicinity of Honey Lake.... There were a number of winter habitation sites in the environs of Honey Lake. These were sometimes marked by roundhouses or sweat houses, as they are sometimes called. Round houses are said to have been occupied by headmen and to have served as ceremonial buildings.

Herb Young, a Genesee Valley Maidu who was born around the turn of the twentieth century, told Riddell (1968:88) that "the Maidu territorial boundary goes from Doyle to Milford, and then north to Horse Lake and then west to Mount Lassen." Riddell (1978a:372) suggested that Maidu territory in Honey Lake Valley had been receding prior to white settlement:

The Maidu penetration into the Great Basin was greater in earlier times than at the first American contact around 1850. By their own admission, the Maidu at some earlier date held all of Honey Lake Valley and its environs. At some time in the relatively recent past, possibly circa 1700 A.D., the Maidu withdrew to the west side of Honey Lake, and the vacated area was taken over by the Paiute. Although the Maidu traditionally claim the area, they cannot name any villages and few physiographic features. This is in contrast to the Paiute who are able to give explicit details of use and village and camp names, as well as being able to name all the significant physiographic features.

Riddell (1978b:28-29) traced the historical period Maidu boundary to the west of Thompson Peak and the Diamond Mountains crest and attributed the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada to the Paiute, except for the Susanville and upper Willow Creek areas, which he attributed to the Maidu (see also the end map in Riddell 1978b). Thus according to Riddell's construction of protohistoric and historical period boundaries, the Maidu had retreated from the east and west shores of Honey Lake by the time of white settlement and their descendants retained no knowledge of villages and little knowledge of physiographic features in the area.

In her historical and ethnogeographic study of the Mountain Maidu Bear Dance, Hunt (1992:18) discussed the boundaries of Maidu territory, noting that "The region inhabited by the Mountain Maidu is somewhat ambiguous in the literature, although Riddell helped clarify it in his research.... The valleys for which permanent or winter villages are known included... the western edges of Sierra Valley and Honey Lake Valley." Hunt (1992:18) observed that Maidu who lived "on the west edges of Honey Lake Valley and Sierra Valley... shared the open land with the Washo and the Paiute," concluding that the Maidu "evidently did not spread out across the valleys but stayed close to the west edges."



The following discussion contains oral historical information on Maidu place-names, settlements, burial sites, hunting and gathering locations that generally agree with Dixon's (1905:124) earlier understanding from Maidu informants that they lived throughout the Honey Lake Valley region in late prehistoric and early historical times.


The Maidu who contributed the most to the study of Honey Lake Maidu ethnogeography are Viola Williams (born 1919), and her brother, Ron "Comanche" Morales (born 1938), both of Susanville. They, in turn, attributed the greater part of their knowledge to their mother, Leona Peconom Morales (1900-1985), their mother's brother, George Peconom (1877-1972), and their grandmother, Roxie Peconom, who was born in Susanville around 1851 and died there in 1958. These five Maidu lived in and were closely familiar with the Honey Lake region. Steve Camacho (born 1929), a Susanville teacher who is not Maidu, recorded extensive oral interviews with George Peconom and others in local history, anecdotes, oral tradition, and ethnogeography. Camacho made these interviews available for this inquiry. Lilly Baker (born 1911), a Maidu speaker who now lives in Susanville, Andrew Jackson of Susanville, Lorena Gorbet of Greenville in Indian Valley, and Inez Valenzuela (born in Honey Lake Valley in 1920 and now lives in San Jose), provided information on specific localities. Claude Wemple (1896-1993) and Edna Canoy (born 1926), two non Maidus who lived and ranched in the Honey Lake Valley for many years, provided firsthand recollections of Indian-white interaction in the early twentieth century.

Territorial map

Descriptions and approximate locations of the following Maidu place-names are illustrated map above.


Om K'umin, Tommy Tucker Cave

Tommy Tucker Cave(No. 1 on map) was named for the first Lassen County man who was killed in World War I.

Tommy Tucker

Buckhout (1979:49) reported that " The first boy from our county who was killed in action was Tommy Tucker, an Indian boy from Susanville. He was raised there by his uncle and aunt, Cap and Emma DeHaven. The Lassen County American Legion Post #204 was named the Tommy Tucker Post."

The Maidu name means "rock hole" and is the word for cave.


This site (recorded as CA-LAS-1) was excavated by a team from the University of California, Berkeley, in the 1940's and evidence of prehistoric and early historical use " for special purposes which excluded women, or at least women preparing foods requiring grinding implements in that cave" (Riddell 1956:20) was found. Riddell (1978b:42) further commented that the excavation "yielded numerous shell beads and ornaments, sandals of twisted sagebrush bark, a large number of game counters used in gambling, bone tools and ornaments, basketry fragments and numerous other articles." These materials show cultural connections to central California and to the Great Basin. Ron Morales believes that the three-rod coiled basketry and shell beads found there are Maidu, and heard through family tradition that the cave was used by Maidu shamans. According to Riddell (1956:15), the three-rod coiled basketry resembles one type of Lovelock (Great Basin) coiled basketry and is "duplicated by modern Maidu and to some extent by modern Washo ware." Historical period Maidu visited this cave and were very familiar with it.


Polpolim Jamanim, Hot Springs Mountain

The western part of Hot Springs Mountain (which includes Skedaddle and Amedee mountains: map No. 2) is believed to be the end of the territory used by the Maidu, with the Paiute living to the east. Tommy Tucker Cave is here at the edge of what Morales and Williams consider to have been their territory.



Ron Morales learned from his Uncle George Peconom that many Maidu lived at Wolollokom (which means yellowhammer; map, No. 3) in present day Milford. Many Maidu are also known to be buried here, including Maggie Moore, Julia Gould, and Charlie Gould (1848-1923), whose land is still family owned. Until about 45 years ago, Maidu people continued to put flowers on the graves and Morales came here as a child with his mother for this purpose. The house owned by Charlie and his son, Rube Gould, is still standing, but no Maidu live on this property today. A big roundhouse is known to have been here, and a depression about 10 meters in diameter that may represent this roundhouse can be seen today above the old bed of Mill Creek. Of this roundhouse, Riddell (personal communication 1995), reported that "Kitty Joaquin (d. 1954) said that her father [who was Paiute] and Dick Wright built it. The latter was part Maidu and the house was Californian in style, not Great Basin (Paiute)" (see also Riddell 1978b:40). Viola Williams recalled that her mother, Leona Peconom Morales, said that Maidu built this roundhouse, not Joaquin and Wright.

According to Claude Wemple, a long time Milford rancher, a Maidu named Doc Nick lived here in a "campoodee" or round Maidu house with his wife, Sally Martinez, and a boy known as Long Toe Jimmy. Kelsey (1971:53) noted "Doc Nick & wife" as landless Maidu in Milford in his 1905-1906 census of non reservation California Indians. Other Maidu family names, such as Bowen, Lowry, Forman, and Moore, were associated with this area in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Local Maidu gathered many resources at Wolollokom, including black oak acorns, wild walnuts, wild onions, wild potatoes, berries (elderberries, manzanita, serviceberries, and wild strawberries), sugar pine nuts, wild plums, dandelions, pigweed, rosebud (for tea), mountain mint tea, spring tea, desert tea, tule roots, clover, yarrow, gray willows, milkweed, lokbom (wild carrot), crickets, grasshoppers, alder for Bear Dance flags, and yellowhammer feathers for headbands. Steve Camacho asked George Peconom (personal communication 1970) if the Maidu ate choke cherries, to which he replied "yes." Camacho then asked, "How much did you pick to supply you through the winter?" George replied, "It would depend on how the berries turned out. We found a lot of good berries around Susanville, Bass Hill, and below the hills this side of Milford. They are all over the place there."

Ron Morales learned from his mother that the Washo used to come from the southeast part of the valley into this and other parts of the Susanville area with pine nuts, salt, and toolstone for trade. In the spring, the Washo were allowed to gather the Maidu's abundant roots. They would return again in early September with more trade items and the Maidu allowed them to gather the black oak acorns. When the trading was completed, they would return to their homeland east of the Fort Sage Mountain and into Nevada. The Washo never would cross the Susan River.

Claude Wemple (1987), was 91 years old at the time he wrote the following notes, describing his recollections of some of the Indians who lived in Milford:

My earliest memories of the Indians at Milford go back to 1900. The Indian campoodies were located right northwest sixty or seventy yards from J.C. Wemple's house.... In 1901... no Indian children went to school. I can recall only one child among the Indians then. He was a tall, slender boy called Long-Toe Jimmy. He was Becky's grandson, a woman who used to wash clothes for mother. Another Indian woman was Sally, who had a man called Doc Nick, who washed clothes.

When I was four, mother sent me to the Indian camp to ask one of the women to help her with the washing. I approached the camp rather cautiously and stood fifteen or twenty feet away but didn't make a sound. In a short time an Indian woman would come out of the campoodie and ask what I wanted. My answer was: "Mama wants you to work." The woman, usually Sally or Becky, followed me home but a minute or so behind. When the women came to wash clothes they always brought another person with them. They were hungry. Not since the Great Depression have the white people experienced anything like the hunger of the Indians in the winter months.... They entered quietly and unobtrusively as possible: they stood quietly awaiting the pleasure of the housewife and when the housewife spoke to them there was not a flicker nor muscular movement of the face. They asked nothing of the housewife, but ate anything offered to them, no matter what it was and the morning meal was usually not very much, but at noon there was a more plentiful meal served to them. There was another Indian named Jimmy at the Milford campoodies. He was old and terribly emaciated, blind and nearly naked. I think that during my second year in school, 1903-1904, Jimmy died. Will Bronson came to school at the noon hour. He said "Blind Jimmy has died and all of the Indians have moved over onto the rock pile. There is not an Indian left in camp." The Indians moved over into the rock pile where all of the mortars have been ground into the huge boulders.

Jimmy's death ended forever the campoodies at Milford. There was some superstition connected to Blind Jimmy's death that forebode evil for all of them (Wemple 1987). Leona Peconom Morales (personal communication 1979) mentioned the Milford area in her recollections:

This is a recording for the Honey Lake Indians... the Maidu Indians. The Maidu Indians lived in this Honey Lake Valley... long before the white people came. No other tribe lived there... there were a lot who lived down in Milford. They're all dead and... buried up there in the hills....The last two [Maidu] who lived there were a young boy and his mother.... During the First World War he went to Greenville to visit friends. And while he was there he joined the service or was drafted... and his mother was there by herself down at Milford....And she finally passed away. And he was gone for about a year or so and then he came back to see his mother and she was gone. And he left again and never did come back... from Milford on up [to about] the north side of Diamond Mountain... no matter how much it snowed, the snow always melted early. And they lived a good life in through there.

Wolollokom is recorded as CA-LAS-29, where it is also referred to as Mata, a Paiute name for a village in the area (see Riddell 1978b:40-41). Considerable materials, such as bedrock mortars, projectile points, basalt flakes, and mano and metate fragments, are known from the site, much of which is in the private collection of the landowner.


Hananam Sewin, Buntingville

Two Maidu families (McKinney and Baker) lived in the Buntingville area (map, No. 4) in the recently remembered past. According to Morales and Williams, the Maidu name means "chokecherry creek," now known as Baxter Creek. Leona Peconom Morales (personal communication 1979) recalled the McKinneys:

The family I knew that lived in Buntingville was the three McKinney brothers and their sisters. The oldest sister there is married to Old Salem from Lake Almanor. And these McKinney boys they had their families too.... Then they died off and they're buried down there [in Buntingville].


Lilly Baker, an elderly Maidu woman who lived here as a child, gave a brief account of the settlement in a letter to Ron Morales (L. Baker, personal communication 1994):


Lily Baker

... We lived by the Will Bailey ranch. My brother Bill and I used to go to the Lake District School. My sister Jennie, Rollin and Ernest were away from home working. They would come home once in a while. My Grandpa Baker stayed with us most of the time. My dad bought the land before he passed away. So my sister and Rollin bought lumber and my mother, uncle and Rollin built that house, one up above and one below. Bill McKinney and my father were buried in our place. Only Bill [McKinney] and mother stayed there until Bill [Baker] finished grammar school. Then they moved over to Lake Almanor so he could finish high school in Westwood.



A 1996 video of Lilly Baker, called "Dancing with the Bear: Lilly Baker and the Maidu Legacy," shows her processing acorns at a bedrock mortar site near her childhood home.

According to Ron Morales, some of the best Indian medicine grows in this vicinity, such as lokbom, an Indian tea that is boiled for stomach ailments. Another medicine that is found here, tosopim pewim, is used to make thunder and storms go the other way (see Evans 1978:16). Gamblers put this powerful medicine in their gambling bones, and shamans smoked it. Roxie Peconom smoked it (mixing it with tobacco) or burned it for headaches and depression. She also gathered buckbrush here to be used for the Bear Dance flag (see Culture/Bear Dance section).

The Baker and McKinney homesteads are abandoned but still standing on elevated ground at the edge of the forest and overlooking Honey Lake. The Baker house partially collapsed under the weight of snow in the winter of 1993.


Widojkym, Janesville

An old, extensive Maidu burial ground exists in Janesville (map, No. 5) on land that is privately owned. A few unmarked natural stones can be seen facing east and at least one grave appears to have been marked by an oval perimeter of stones. This site was used until well into the twentieth century. A nearby resident told Ron Morales that an old Maidu woman named Lucy, who was from Janesville, was buried here when the resident was a little girl, perhaps around 1920.

Inez (Chavez) Valenzuela (personal communication 1995), who was born in 1920 and moved away from the area in 1932, is descended from the last people to have been buried here. The last burial on that site was that of her great grandmother, Julia Delly (also known as Julia Saunders), who was born in Janesville around 1856 and died in 1928. Julia's mother (whose name is not known) and father (whose first name was Tom) were also Maidu from Janesville, but Inez does not recall if they are buried here. When the mourners buried Julia, they placed several of her best possessions, such as baskets and jewelry, in the grave. Inez's mother, Inez (Jack) Chavez, also was buried here with her child in 1927. Others included Inez's mother's aunt, Polly Dopeson, and several members of the Jack family, who were in the same generation as Inez's mother.

Monkey Saunders, a Maidu from Indian Valley, acquired land in 1897 by allotment from the United States Department of the Interior. Inez Valenzuela (personal communication 1995) believes that Julia (Delly) Saunders's predecessors had lived here prior to the allotment. The heirs subdivided and sold the original allotment over the years. Inez Valenzuela, who now lives in San Jose, visits the cemetery annually and is concerned that houses are encroaching on the burials. Ron Morales's grandmother's cousin, Bob Taylor, from Lone Pine, also is buried here. One house may have actually been built over Maidu graves.

There is a Maidu legend known to Ron Morales about two shamans who fought here - one a strong but bad (evil) Indian doctor from Wolollokom (Milford), and the other a strong but good doctor from the Widojkym (Janesville) area. They argued over who had more power and met at the bottom of Thompson Peak, where they agreed that their spirits would go to the top of the peak to fight. Their spirits moved just above the ground. When they got to the top they both woke up. They had been in a trance and were asleep. They had dust all over themselves. When their spirits went up there they tore things up and taunted one another. If you cross your shadow over that of the other you can take his power. The spirit of the good doctor whipped the spirit of the bad doctor and took all of his power. When it was over, they shook hands and put their arms around each other and then went their separate ways with no hard feelings. The bad Maidu doctor from Milford was very well known.

Clara LeCompte (personal communication 1983), a Maidu woman from Susanville, told a similar story to Steve Camacho:

My grandfather was a medicine man of the Maidu tribe. His name was Dan Williams [see Shipley 1963]. My mother also had an aunt who was known as a witch doctor. The aunt was angry with her and took her anger out on my sister by crossing her trail. My grandfather explained that she sent her spirit to cross where my sister always took a walk. The healing process took place in Janesville and it lasted for three days. The first was started by dusk with my grandfather singing and shaking the rattle over my sister. As he sang, the rattle left his hand and went up the pole, which was in the middle of the room, several times and when it came back to his hand he bent over and started sucking on her side. The stuff he spat into a pan which was placed alongside my sister was green, sort of like bile. When this was accomplished, he placed my sister in our tent and hung up a flag (made of feathers) at the doorway. This was to keep evil from entering while she (my sister) was getting well. The second night, my grandfather went from camp about a quarter of a mile, and we could hear him singing. After a while we could hear mom's aunt singing. Grandfather explained that this was a battle between good and bad. The singing lasted until morning. The third night the same process was repeated, only this time, after a few hours, mom's aunt's voice grew weaker. This continued until only my grandfather's voice could be heard. Good had won out over evil.


According to Shipley (personal communication 1995), widoj means "pull up or lift by hand" and -ky is like the English -er, "the person who does whatever" or "the thing you do whatever with." Thus, the meaning of Widojkym seems to be "the person who pulls up or lifts by hand" or "the thing you pull up or lift by hand." Evans (1978:5) also associated Widojkym with the Janesville area.


Bukom, Rice Canyon

The Charley Brown family lived in Rice Canyon (map, No. 6). Charley Brown, who was a Maidu, associated with Paiute people, so the Maidu nicknamed him Charlie Paiute. Viola learned from her mother that bukom means sunflower [or "wild sunflower" (Evans 1978:10)], and that the Maidu called Rice Canyon by this name because of the small sunflowers that grow in the area. They used the flowers for medicine, as for a sore throat, and also ground and ate the seeds. Juniper (for tobacco and for bows), as well as squaw tea (for stomach ailments and for the blood), grow nearby. The Maidu hunted muletail deer, mountain lion, and bobcat here. They used mountain lion foreleg bones and deer bones for gambling bones. Earlier Indians built hunting blinds in this area and carved many petryglyphs, the remains of which can still be seen. Ron Morales and Viola Williams heard accounts from their mother of a meteorite that caused rocks to fall from the sky into Rice Canyon.

Joskopim Yamanim, Fox (or Bald) Mountain

There is a Maidu tale that says when the Maker passed through this way, he named the mountain for the Fox (map, No. 7). Ron Morales related the story of three cousins, Fox, Wolf, and Coyote:

...lying in the shade watching a man and his woman going up the hill. Coyote told Wolf that when the Maker came through, he put this mountain up for the Maidu to keep their youth. They go up old and come back young. Coyote never liked that. He griped, "I'd like to have that fellow's woman but will never have a chance because she always goes up with a man. When they come down they are young." He looked at Fox and said, "Ain't that right?" Fox agreed but he never liked Coyote. Coyote said, "I'm going to kick that mountain over. I don't like them to go up there anymore. I can do it." He sang Coyote songs to get his power. He sang and sang. The ground started shaking a bit. Fox got up. He got nervous because the ground was shaking. Wolf's eyes got big. The mountain was shaking, The more Coyote would kick the louder he would sing. The mountain fell over into three parts. It broke up. The Creator knew of this, of what Coyote had done. The Creator came up on them. He said to Coyote, "You are responsible for this. You, Wolf, are the instigator. You are with Coyote on this." But he said to Fox, "You, the Fox, you are a little guy. You have to do what they say. But I will name this mountain for you because you have pretty fur and my people will use your fur as a quiver for arrows. You are not responsible for what Coyote and Wolf have done." He said to Coyote, "You are the one to blame for what happened here. You are always going to live in the hills and the desert and look mangy. Your fur will be no good. You will always be hungry and looking for food. No one will want to look at you. You will always be looking over your shoulder and you will have no friends." To Wolf he said, "You are big and strong and could have stopped your cousin, but you didn't. You will live in the timber. Very few people will see you and we will hear you only when you cry. That is the way you will be for what you did."


Ron learned this story from his mother, Leona, his grandmother, Roxie Peconom, and his uncle, George Peconom (for variants, see Dixon [1912:67-69] and Evans [1978:4]).

Leona Morales Peconom

Roxie Peconom

George Pecono


Fox Mountain also was a "hot spot" for the Maidu Bear Dance ( see iscussion of the Bear Dance in the Culture/Bear Dance section).



Tetem Momdanim, Honey Lake

Tetem momdanim means literally "big lake" in Maidu. Morales and Williams also said that the Maidu referred to the lake as Hanylekim, which obviously sounds like Honey Lake (map, No. 8). The late Dan Williams told William Shipley (personal communication 1995) that Hanylekim was a Maidu name for the lake and that the English name is a corrupted borrowing from Maidu. According to Shipley (personal communication 1995), it could mean something like "carrying something quickly along." Fariss and Smith (Hutchinson 1971:330) offered a settler's explanation for the origin of the name:

Honey Lake and Honey Lake Valley, the names by which this section is best known, and the only appellations given this whole region in the infancy of its settlement, were named from the honeydew found on the grass and shrubbery, of which the Indians were very fond, and from which they made a sort of molasses for their food (also see Purdy [1983:40-53] and Woodward [1938:175-180]).

Honey Lake is an area where the large sunflowers grow. The Maidu gathered goose eggs, duck eggs, freshwater crabs, bass, catfish, and many types of water fowl along the Susan River and around the perimeter of Honey Lake, but never drank the water because it was too alkaline. They also hunted animals that ate the grass at the edges of the river and lake.

Leona Morales (n.d.) told the following tale entitled "The Night Snake of Pyramid Lake" that pertains to Honey Lake, as well as to Eagle Lake. The big snake is the fabled palawajkym of Maidu oral tradition:

There was a big animal, traveled in water, snakelike. It was as big as a log. It always traveled at night. It was in Eagle Lake. Indians didn't like Eagle Lake, called it Devil Country. The big animal went through country, made big path, like log dragged straight up. It went to Petrified Pool, then to Lake Almanor. You could see it's path. Indians make prayer. They say, "Leave us alone, we leave you alone." Snake say, "I travel only at night. You leave me alone, I not bother you." It went down to Honey Lake in Susan River. Some Indians followed it in canoes. This side of Standish, tules all bent down by snake-like animal. Hold his head up high. All fish die where he was. He left Honey Lake and is in Pyramid Lake now. He stay there.


Viola Williams heard her mother, Leona, her uncle, George, and her grandmother, Roxie, talk of the pioneer, Peter Lassen, and Roxie's sister, May Charlie, with whom Lassen is said to have had a daughter. According to this recollection, the daughter married a white soldier when she was 15 years old and both husband and wife drowned in Honey Lake (for a similar story see Fairfield [1916:35-36] and Hutchinson [1971:343]; see also Levenson [1994:34-38] and Purdy [1983:44]).

Viola said that when she and her husband, Herman, took her Uncle George to Reno, he would always point across Honey Lake and speak of how he used to cross it by steamboat. He and other men would gather wood at the base of Thompson Peak, transport it by horse and buckboard to the steamboat, then ferry it across the lake to Amedee, California. George told Steve Camacho (personal communication, n.d.) of a Maidu method of catching locusts along the western side of the lake at Wolollokom, Doyle, along the eastern slopes of Diamond Mountain, and in parts of Susanville (G. Peconon, personal communication, n.d.). At times, he said, the locusts flew in such immense swarms that they would darken the sky to the east and eat any vegetation in their path. The Maidu easily trapped the locusts by driving them into deep pits that they dug for this purpose. They then stamped the locusts into a mush, which they dried and roasted as a delicacy.


The shoreline and low foothill area of Honey Lake Valley that extends along Highway 395 in Milford, and the adjoining peninsula that protrudes northward into Honey Lake, are rich in archaeological remains that suggest intense prehistoric settlement. Leona Morales (personal communication, n.d.) heard from her mother and grandmother that many Maidu lived here, and that a trail (now used as a cattle track) once connected this area and the Wendel hot springs with Maidu from Indian Valley, Genesee Valley, and American Valley.

A rancher who owns this property has an extensive collection of stone mortars, pestles, shaman's pipes, and lemon shaped charmstones that he has picked up over the years. He also recalls Maidu who lived and/or worked on the property, one of the last being a woman named Polly Forman. Although nothing remains of her house, which was near the intersection of Milford Grade and Old Milford Highway, people who live on the ranch today continue to refer to the site as "Polly's Place".


Bywom Bom, Elysian Valley

Williams and Morales know many old burial and village sites in the Elysian Valley (map, No. 9), including the one at the northern end of the valley known as Wetajam (see discussion of Wetajam in later text; also see Evans [1978:4]). A village site now remembered only as Jack Shinn's place, a Maidu who is also known as Jack Simpanum and Indian Jack, who lived there with his wife, Nellie, and his sister is located at the intersection of East Wingfield Road and Elysian Valley Road. According to Edna Canoy (personal communication 1994), who remembers Jack Shinn and Nellie from her childhood roughly 60 years ago, Jack worked for her family in Elysian Valley as a handyman, gardener, and woodcutter, and Nellie did laundry. Their son, Orlow, worked for them at haying. In the 1905-1906 Kelsey census, Jack Shinn (Simpanum) is listed, along with a wife and two children, as Maidu and as a landless resident of Johnstonville, as well as a landowner in Susanville (Kelsey 1971:52-53). He also owned Susanville allotment number 85 (since 1907) and received shares in Susanville allotments 84, 586, 647, 964, and 965 (Simpanum 1950-1958). According to Leona Morales (personal communication 1979), Jack Shinn came from an old Honey Lake Maidu lineage:

...there was an old lady that lived... between Hulsman's ranch and Emerson ranch... they used to call her old Jasy.... She was married to an old white guy.... But she was married before... to an Indian guy, a Maidu guy. And she had a son and two daughters that I know of... Jack Shinn, an old Indian guy that lived here for years, down and around Janesville, that was her son.

Near Jack Shinn's place is an area of the valley known to the Maidu as Bywom bom pajdi (said by Viola Williams to mean "where the wind always blows"). Shipley (personal communication 1995) translated bywom bom as "wind trail" and pajdi as "motion up against something."

At the end of Indian Road, which turns off Elysian Valley Road, in an area rich in acorns, lived another cluster of Maidu that included Ernest Jack and his Wintu wife, Bessie Jack, as well as members of the Saunders and Dick families. Bessie Jack was well known among whites as a midwife and, in fact, delivered Edna Canoy and all her older siblings. Canoy (personal communication 1994 recalled that "with Bessie around we didn't need a doctor."

Farther down Wingfield Road, on what was the Spraker Ranch, was a Maidu village and roundhouse. Roxie Peconom's grandmother lived here on a rise above a big meadow overlooking Honey Lake Valley. Leona Morales (personal communication 1979) referred to this location as being:

...between Elysian Valley and Milford... a lot of Indians lived there. That was their main place in the winter time. The good water was there, and it was sheltered there and it was a nice place... maybe six or seven families that just lived there, been there all their lives. And they died off. And that is where my great-grandmother and my grandmother were born. Right down in through there, I was told by my mother. [My grandmother's] name was Betsy. She was born down below Elysian Valley, way down. There were a lot of Indians [who] lived down there... where the two creeks meet... That's where my grandmother was born. She was my mother's mother... her Indian name was Oryasa. And my grandfather's, my mother's father's name, was Jandown, which meant a badger.

Some 250 yards farther down Wingfield Road, another village overlooked the valley. Leona told Ron that the earliest known part of her family lived here in a village that dates back more than four generations, or well into prehistoric times.

Not far away, also off Wingfield Road, is another village and burial site known to ranchers in the area as Pete Ives Springs, named for Peter Ives (circa 1872-1933), a person of mixed white and Konkow or Maidu ancestry who was married twice, to Minnie Jackson and then to Mattie Ives, both local Maidu women. Ron Morales visited this site in February 1995 with Bob Bass, a retired rancher and descendant of early settlers. Bass showed him Pete Ives Springs, the village site, and the burial site. According to Bass, his grandfather (Steven Bass, 1857-1949) told him of a cattle trail that went by the springs and that ended by Jack Shinn's place. He recalled how they were careful to keep cattle on the trail to avoid walking over the village and burial site. In the course of our visit to Pete Ives Springs in April 1995 (courtesy of the owner, Dr. Hal Meadows), we observed a bedrock mortar and basalt flakes exposed upon the surface of the ground.


Wetajam, Sand Slough

Known as Wetajam by the Maidu and Sand Slough by the whites, this location was an early to middle nineteenth century Maidu village and burial site (map, No. 10). According to Ron Morales and Viola Williams (via George Peconom and Leona Morales), Sampson Lamb's mother-in-law, father-in-law, wife, and several of his children are buried here in unmarked graves. Sampson Lamb, whose Maidu name was Nutim, was Roxie Peconom's brother (Riddell 1978b:42-43, 64). Nutim means literally "little guy, sonny, little fellow" with affectionate overtones (W. Shipley, personal communication 1995). Sampson Lamb (or Lem Sampson, 1854-1936) was born in Honey Lake Valley of Maidu parents, who themselves were born in what was to become Lassen County (United States Department of the Interior 1929; see also Kelsey 1971:53). George showed Viola the locations of the burials many years age at a time when one could still see a number of little earth mounds. Despite efforts by the families to protect these burials, they have been covered over by house construction. Sampson moved over to Chester in his last years, where he died and was buried in the Blunt Indian cemetery.


Om Lu Lyly, Diamond Mountain Range

The Diamond Mountain Range (map, No. 11), which borders Honey Lake Valley to the west, was called Om Lu Lyly by the Maidu. Lilly Baker told Ron Morales (personal communication 1994) that the name means "rock shining" in Maidu, and Leona Morales said that it was so named because at a certain time of day one can see something shining there (L. Morales personal communication 1979). Of this place-name, Shipley (personal communication 1995) wrote, "om lylydi, literally 'Where the rock stars are... o, 'rock', lyly, 'star', -di, locative suffix, 'at'."

According to Leona Morales (personal communication 1970):

Wild onions were found along the top of Thompson, Diamond, Eagle Lake, Willard, and Mountain Meadows. We picked them during the spring and summer. The flower is pink and smells like onions. We mix it with acorns but first we cut the tops and boil them and they are very delicious. The choke cherries were crushed, salted, and eaten. We found them along the ridge of Diamond Mountain, Lake Almanor, and wherever the choke cherries are you will find them among the pine trees which give the choke cherries a lot of shade and it also gave us a lot of shade. Wild mint. We use it as a tea and it is good for the stomach. It can be found around Willard, the northern slopes of Thompson and Diamond Mountain (and) many of the streams along Mountain Meadows.


Dakpem Sewim, Gold Run Creek

The main Indian trail from Susanville to Indian Valley passed through Gold Run Creek (map, No. 12). Ron Morales and Viola Williams understand that the Indian name refers to the brownish-red, clay-like mud at the bottom of the creek and along any Indian trails in this particular area. Shipley (personal communication 1995; also see Evans 1978:11) tentatively suggested that the name means "sticky creek." The white name originated from gold mining in this creek. Local farmers and ranchers have accumulated large collections of stone mortars and metates from old village sites found along the creek and in their fields. Viola heard from her mother that many Maidu lived here in the early historical period. Old Tom (i.e., Captain Tom) lived and was killed near Gold Run Creek in the aftermath of the Papoose Valley massacre in 1866 (Fairfield 1919:399).


Pam Sewim K'odom, Susanville

Translated by Shipley (personal communication 1995) as "brush creek country," Viola Williams and Ron Morales said that the Maidu name for the Susanville area (map, No. 13) is associated with collecting the wild plant foods that grow here (such as wild potatoes, onions, carrots, tules, elderberries, choke cherries, and sunflowers). They also gathered wild wormwood and willows for bowl, burden, seed, and storage baskets. Williams and Morales felt that the swampy and well watered areas from Susanville to Long Valley were hospitable to the Maidu. This location includes the Inspiration Point area, which also was a Maidu village that overlooked Susanville and the entire Honey Lake Valley. Viola's grandmother Roxie Peconom came here from Hulsman's ranch after they burned all their homes and possessions there following the outbreak of smallpox. Roxie's sons built her a house on Inspiration Point around 1903 or 1904. They built with lumber, not in the old campoodie style. Viola was born here in 1919. Harry Thomas (another Maidu) also lived here, where he met and married Leona's sister, Inez. Alex Tom, his wife, and his two brothers lived in an old village close to where Viola's family settled, but before Viola was born. She heard from her mother that Alex Tom had a house and a barn on the top of the valley where he lived in the summer, and a house closer to the river below where he lived in winter. The remains of the lower village can still be seen beneath Thumper Hill Road outside Susanville. A local spring made by the Creator in his journey, and later known to the Maidu as Alex's Spring, is named for him. It is now called Cady Spring, after a local white family.

Leona Morales (personal communication 1958) told Ron of a strange creature on Inspiration Point that made a noise like a mountain lion or a dog crying at night for about a week. Children were told not to go out of the house when they heard it. One of the men, maybe George, Walter, or Francis (Frenchy) Peconom, said, "Tonight when the thing makes noise I will go out and get it." He found a small dog with a face, ears, skin, and eyes like a human and shot it. The he dug a pit and burned it with hot coals until everything was gone. Ron's mother saw it. They burnt it and covered it up. It was the devil. They called it yswalulum. Of this word, Shipley (personal communication 1995) wrote:

Roxie and Leona translated [it] as "devil." The ys part occurs in several words. It means something like "secret," "magical," "powerful." Again here, the -ky added on means "one who walulu's." This is probably what Dan Williams used to call a "high word" having to do with shamanistic power and control.

While living here and elsewhere in Susanville, Leona Morales did domestic work for many of the early settler families of Honey Lake Valley, including the Spencers, Cadys, Cramers, and Ramseys. Roxie Peconom informed Viola Williams that she learned how to use one of the first types of electric clothes irons from Willa Cady. Leona often commented on how well her employers treated her. According to her children, they never referred to her as squaw or mahalie (common term used by whites for Indian women) and treated her with respect. Martha Buckhout (born 1884) seemed to be referring to the Inspiration Point Maidu village or to the Indian Heights neighborhood in her reminiscences, in which she noted that "We had quite a number of Indians living in a very primitive condition on a hill just out of town" (Buckhout 1979:29). Women from this village "did washing for the people in town" (Buckhout 1979:29) and had intimate connections with the families for whom they worked.

Twilla Shipes, a recently deceased Susanville Maidu, told Steve Camacho that her family gathered acorns along the base of Inspiration Point, and that the black oak acorns there were the best (T. Shipes, personal communication 1969). They picked the acorns in September; most of them fell to the ground by October. Her mother told her that if they picked them any later than October they would freeze, and that if snow or rain fell on the acorns they would mildew and rot. Shipes and her family also gathered acorns where they grew abundantly along the road from Janesville to Milford (T. Shipes, personal communication 1969).


K'asim Jamanim

K'asim Jamanim is the mountain immediately to the west of Susanville (map, No.14), above the Roosevelt School swimming pool. In Maidu the name means "wild plum mountain" (Evans 1978:10). A very large Maidu cemetery extends up this hillside overlooking the Honey Lake Valley. The last burial occurred in 1993, and the earliest ones go back before Viola's mother's memory. Some burials are marked by an oval perimeter of stones, all oriented from the west to east with the head to the west. Several graves are decorated with flowers, one has a cross, and one has a lilac bush planted over the stones. Members of the Peconom, Lowry, and deHaven families are known to be buried here in unmarked graves. The Peconom family consider this to be their family burial ground. Ron and his mother and brothers used to visit this cemetery to clear brush, but the site is not well maintained anymore, although descendants still tend individual graves. The burial area for the deHaven family is known to be about 150 yards downhill from the main cemetery by a grove of oak trees. Leona Morales (personal communication 1979) said of this cemetery that: ...

where the hospital now stands, there used to be a family lived there... Cap deHaven and his wife Emma....Cap deHaven and Emma had a lot of children, eight, seven, nine of them.... They're all buried up there in our cemetery. I have two brothers and two sisters buried there. The old Indian cemetery. And I don't think there is another Indian family outside of the Maidus that has a cemetery here in Susanville [that dates] before 1900.... Cap deHaven's mother and father, they're buried up there on the hill.


The Maidu always gave the deceased a little jar of water in their grave before starting their last journey. They also cut up and broke their best possessions and put them in the grave for the deceased to take with them. George Peconom (personal communication 1968) said to Ron that they do this because your luck goes with you, not with your children. The old Indians would pray, "You will start your long journey now, you have nothing here, don't look back, you have nothing in this world no more, you're going to a better place." To this day, they still give water. If you do not, the spirit will hover around. Viola's mother always told her never to take a flower from the grave because another death would follow in the family of one who did so; the flower belongs to the dead. When the family members return from the cemetery, adults and children wash their faces in cool water. They feel much better when they perform this ancestral tradition.

Old Maidu villages extended downhill below the burial ground and past the swimming pool on South Street. The land has been privately owned for some time, but Maidu continue to bury the remains of their dead at K'asim jamanim. Riddell (1949) identified the site (recorded as CA-LAS-42) by its Maidu name, gasim, and described it as a winter campsite for Maidu people. Evans (1978:4, 10) also noted it in his list of Maidu winter habitation sites. Huskym Yamanim, Worley Mountain In Maidu, Huskym yamanim means snake mountain. It is now called Worley Mountain (map, No. 15). A meadow beneath this mountain was known as Huskym kojom, or snake meadow. A large Maidu village once existed alongside the meadow from prehistoric time until around 1920. Part of the Brown family lived here, including Charlie Brown, his daughter, Orrie Evans, and other Maidu.

Charlie Brown is buried in the Indian cemetery by Leavitt Lake near the Susanville prison. Viola Williams remembers the familiar sight of the elderly Orrie Evans walking from her house at Huskym kojom into downtown Susanville. She too is buried at the Leavitt Lake cemetery (see Evans 1978:19).


Omeponom Yamanim, Antelope Mountain

Morales and Williams do not know the meaning of this Maidu place-name (map, No.16), and Shipley (personal communication 1995) was not sure, although he suggested that it possibly means "stone gift" mountain, commenting that "A stone gift is a charmstone of the type that Dan Williams received when he got his doctor's power."

The Maidu hunted pronghorn and deer around what is now known as Antelope Mountain (Evans 1978:5).

George Peconom often took Ron Morales and his brothers here for this purpose. Although the Maidu considered this to be their territory, Pit River people sometimes came into the area and, in fact, killed Roxie Peconom's father Lam Charlie, who is buried on the side of the mountain. Ron Morales says that an amphitheater-like depression that can be seen from Antelope Grade was caused by the impact of a large meteorite that crashed into the mountain a very long time ago. According to Andrew Jackson of Susanville, older generations spoke of a very large snake that they had seen on Antelope Grade. A woman he knew, who made baskets and basketry covered bottles (see Figure 29), had seen this snake, which was a foot or more in diameter. People today can no longer see this creature (A. Jackson, personal communication 1995).


Ch'onim yamanim, Porcupine Hill

Ch'onim yamanim means literally "porcupine mountain" (map, No. 17). It is located northeast of Susanville, one mile past Antelope Grade on Highway 139. Viola Williams and Ron Morales know of no Maidu villages in this area, but George Peconom and Morales hunted porcupines here among the small oaks. Although Morales knows that the Maidu once used porcupine quills for combs and headbands, he hunted them only for food. To cook the porcupine, they would first dig a hole approximately four feet wide and four feet deep. Then they would gather and burn hardwood and mahogany in the hole for several hours until they had built a bed of glowing coals. Next they would cut the guts out and put a wire through the porcupine, place it over the coals and singe off the quills. Then they would scrape the singed quills with a piece of wood, cover the coals with lava rocks, wrap the porcupine with a piece of burlap sacking, and place it on top of the heated rocks. The final step was to cover the pit tightly with pieces of wood and then cover the wood with loose earth to retain the heat while the porcupine cooked for eight to ten hours. They cooked woodchucks, deer, pronghorn, and other game by the same method, and currently cook meat this way at the annual Bear Dance ceremony (see figures).



Viola Williams heard of this large village (named, according to Williams, for the groundhog) and burial site from her mother, Leona (L. Morales, personal communication 1979). The site is located about 3 miles northeast of Susanville and about one mile northwest of Center Road past Brockman Slough and the railroad tracks (map, No. 18). The last Maidu known to have lived at Supom were Kate Stressly and her brother, Little Sam Jackson, whose parents also were born here. Kate married a Maidu named Stressly (who was originally from Hidden Valley) in Susanville. Kate and Sam lived in this area until around 1900. Leona also mentioned another Maidu family named Dick that lived in this village (L. Morales, personal communication 1979). Supom would appear to be the same village site mentioned by Evans (1978:5):

Attesting to the fact that the Susan River slough area east of Susanville was of high economic significance to the Maidu is the presence of a number of village sites, including one having more than 20 houses. Such a village can be considered a major settlement, much larger than Witaiim, with its six dwellings and one roundhouse.... The condition of the remains suggests... that the village must have been in use up to about 1850.

Riddell (1978a:372) also mentioned the 22 house pits at this location and commented on the economic productivity of the surrounding region:

Susan River and Willow Creek, with their sloughs, meanderings, and tributaries, support extensive meadows and marshes before flowing into Honey Lake, thus providing a superb habitat for fish and waterfowl. In addition, the ever important acorn bearing oak groves are within easy collecting distance.


Pam Sewim, Susan River

According to Shipley (personal communication 1995), Pam sewim (map, No. 19) means "brush creek, bushy creek." It runs through Susanville and down the east slope of the Sierras. Morales and Williams believe that the Maker gave the water of this river to the Maidu people. The many resources of Pam sewim include grey willow for baskets (Figures 29, 32, 33, 34), straight willow for arrow shafts, milkweed for string, cattails, wild rhubarb, tules, rainbow trout, and sucker fish. The brown willow was strong for making rope, string, fishing nets, and mats. The straight willow for arrow shafts is gone now, but it once grew along a warm stretch of the river where the Fruit Growers Supply Company lumber mill stood before it burned down (see Evans 1978:12). Put an arrowhead on a branch of this kind of willow, the Maidu would say, and it will fly straight. In order to protect the straight willows, the Maidu did not swim in this warm water. Leona and Ron gathered and ate cattails and the bottom part of tules from the Susan River.

Particularly good willows grew along Susan River Creek near where it crosses Alexander Lane by the McClelland Ranch in Standish. Oma Reed, a Susanville Maidu, told Ron Morales that her mother, Maude Thomas, used to pick willows for baskets (Figures 29, 32-34) with Roxie Peconom at this location around 1910. They would load the bundles of willow cuttings on their buckboard and haul them back to their home, which was then below Antelope Mountain.


Tibim Sewim, Smith Creek

Smith Creek (map, No. 20), also known to whites as Paiute Creek (for the Maidu Charlie Brown, also known as Charlie Paiute) was called Tibim Sewim or "Little Creek" by the Maidu. Big Rosie George used to hold a Bear Dance along this creek (Figure 29). She was the daughter of George Davis, who was Roxie Peconom's brother.


Hinch'esimin Mondanim, Eagle Lake

Hinch'esimin momdanim, now known as Eagle Lake (map, No. 21) translates as "reflection lake" (W. Shipley, personal communication 1955). Roxie Peconom told her children and grandchildren that Eagle Lake was devil country, a place that is not right. According to Ron Morales, the Maker said to the Maidu, "I will give you this lake. But it is not good because of the snake that lives there" (see an account of this snake at Honey Lake above). George's wife, who saw this snake, said to it, "We are not scared of you. You are not going to scare us. If white people see you they will kill you." The snake went back into the water. Although the Maidu consider Eagle Lake to have been within their traditional territory, they believe it to be a mysterious and potentially dangerous place, safer by day, but belonging to the serpent at night.

Roxie's mother's mother, who picked berries near Eagle Lake, told her daughter of an earthquake near there and told her that if an earthquake ever happens, she should not stand under a tree, but should lie flat on her belly and grab a bush. She did so during a subsequent earthquake and witnessed a great geyser of water from the lake that went hundreds of feet into the air. Viola Williams recalls that her mother and grandmother said that the Maidu visited Eagle Lake for hunting, fishing, and picking wild strawberries and elderberries around the entire shore.

George Peconom (personal communication 1969) described how he and his father, John Peconom, fished for trout (bahekem) and sometimes other fish by trapping them in rock rings (still in evidence at the mouth of Pine Creek) and then spearing them. George also fished in this way at Merrill Creek and at Papoose Meadows. George learned this method of fishing from his father through earlier forebears:

All the fish at Eagle Lake spawned up that river (Pine Creek) and into the valley in the spring. When the snow melts, it forms a lake up the river. This spring I saw the lake. All Indians that wanted fish had to go that far to get it. My father and a white friend used to go up there with snow shoes. They'd go right over the mountain and right into Pine Creek Valley and you could see all of the big trout all over. The white people used to go up there too. But they would shoot the fish with shotguns. The hatchery at Pine Creek is where the old timers used to get their fish. They would get into the water waist high, reach and feel around those rocks and get those big trout. They used to spear them too. The Maidu did. In the old days, the women never did fish, they stayed at home and took care of the camp. Women did not hunt and fish. After the fish were caught they would pack them in a basket. About 50 pounds. of fish would fit into each basket. The trail to Eagle Lake was straight through the hills. It took us... hours to get there. The Maidus had a basket net that was also used to scoop up the fish. When the fishing was complete the biggest ones were taken home, throw the little ones back. We also fished around the lake, around Bogard. To make the fish last longer many of them were smoked. The Maidu also fished around several lakes only in the summer time [G. Peconom, personal communication 1969].

George told also of how he and other Maidu hunted mule deer, blacktail deer, groundhogs, pronghorns, mudhens, and coyotes (Figure 35), (G. Peconom, personal communication 1965). George trapped coyotes by raising a female pup, putting it's urine in a bottle, and using it to attract and then kill the coyote. With his father, he also hunted raccoons, mountain lions, and bobcats wherever they could find them. George told of an animal he had seen with the head and body of a rat and the tail of a rabbit. He said that such creatures lived at high altitudes and that he had seen them at Silver Lake, and Crater Lake. George also noted geese that he had seen nesting in trees at Eagle Lake, as well as at Silver Lake. In addition to animals, George noted that "At Eagle Lake around Merrill Flats we used to go out and find the red berries and there were also a lot of chokecherries in that area. And we ate them the same way that we ate the other berries" (G. Peconom, personal communication 1970). He considered Eagle Lake to have been Maidu country for a very long time. According to George (personal communication 1967), the Maidu never lived at Eagle Lake in permanent villages, but camped there by day and away from the lake at night. A local white resident, (Ben Yeakey personal communication 1971) noted that at Eagle Lake, the Maidu "used to spear the bass and catfish" and would pull up tules, "strip the base of the bulb and eat the head raw." Yeakey also said that Maidu would travel with buckboards and horses to the mouth of Pine Creek on the northwest side of Eagle Lake and set up camps near the Indian Ruins, Moon Bay, and Pine Creek Slough. There they would make fish traps of stones piled three feet high, sometimes diverting fish toward these traps if the water was too high (B. Yeakey, personal communication 1971). Whites as well as Indians have stories about the serpent and other strange phenomena at Eagle Lake. For whites too, Eagle Lake was a place where things were not right (for examples, see Amesbury [1971:5-6]). On August 10, 1977, a group of people in the Eagle Lake area reportedly saw a "monstrous creature" that resembled an eel (Anonymous 1977). In reviewing the numerous accounts of strange creatures in and around the lake, Noble (1954:40) reported that:

...what makes Eagle Lake completely unlike any other body of water is that it abounds with creatures most scientists thought were extinct thousands of years ago....There is a trout in the lake unlike any other trout in the world, and common animals act here like none of their relatives anywhere else.

According to Noble (1954:40-43), Eagle Lake is inhabited by creatures thought to date back thousands of years, animal species that behave in uncharacteristic ways, and species that have hybridized to produce peculiar offspring. Indians in this part of California today claim that they have long known of the strangeness of Eagle Lake.


Widojkym Jamanim, Thompson Peak

Thompson Peak is part of the Diamond Mountain Range of the Sierra Nevada, overlooking Janesville and Buntingville (map, No. 22). It was an excellent hunting area for mule deer, with nearby trails that connected Honey Lake Valley with Genesee Valley. George Peconom (personal communication 1970) reported that the Maidu gathered acorns and pine nuts at the base of Thompson Peak to trade with Pit River people. He also noted that "the Honey Lake Maidu gathered tobacco along the southern slopes in most of the Maidu territory" (G. Peconom, personal communication 1970). Joe Osa, a sheepherder in Lassen County, told Steve Camacho that he remembered Maidu women in 1930 still carrying large baskets (Figure 36) filled with acorns that they gathered in the Thompson Peak and Milford/Doyle areas (J. Osa, personal communication 1970). Thompson Peak was also the site of the shaman's duel described in the Widojkym section above.


Polpolpolim, Hot Springs near Amedee Mountain

In Maidu, polpolpolim means "water boiling up" or "bubbling spring." The hot springs (CA-LAS-28: Riddell [1949]) are near Wendel in the direction of Susanville (map, No.23). Viola visited there many times. Her mother told her that Plumas County Maidu had a trail from Indian Valley and would walk here to camp for two to three days at a time. It was always warm there, with food and green grass in winter. If one was a good Indian doctor, the water would shoot high up in the air when he arrived. The water shot up to say "You're welcome." If one was not a good doctor, it would not shoot up. Bad doctors were afraid to go there and rarely did. Viola's Aunt Edith and Uncle George went there because it was thought to be a healing place. They sat in the mud up to their necks. The mud was mainly good for rheumatism. Uncle George also would clean his bedding in the springtime in the hot boiling water. The temperature was different at different points along the little stream. George would get in the hot mud, cover himself, and sit there, then wash himself off. Viola's mother and even an old white man also came here. The white man stayed for about a week and went away healed.

Also at Polpolpolim, the Maidu constructed a sweathouse of upright timbers placed into the ground. The sweathouse was rectangular with a flat roof and was built over a place where steam came up from the ground. It was divided by a curtain into two chambers and had a seat inside. Viola sat in there with her Aunt Edith. Whereas the mud bath was mainly for treating rheumatism, the purpose of the sweathouse was to get poisons, or anything bad, out of the body. George also went into the sweathouse for this purpose. They had two big jugs of cold water and when they came out of the sweathouse they would pour the cold water on them.

Ron Morales spent days there with his family when he was around ten years old. He would swim in a somewhat cooler area downstream. He recalls many feathers around the edge of the boiling water. Indians would dip their ducks, quail, grouse, canvasbacks, mudhens, Canadian geese, and snow geese in the boiling water because it made them easier to pluck.


Om Kuluojwem, Fredonyer Mountain

Leona Morales learned the Maidu name for Fredonyer Mountain (map, No. 24) from her sister Lena. According to Viola Williams, the name means "rock dark valley," although Shipley (personal communication 1995) had a slightly different version, maintaining that it means "rock that seems to be getting dark." The Indian trail from Big Meadows and Westwood to Honey Lake Valley passes by this mountain. Steve Camacho, who is a native of the Westwood area, learned from George Peconom precisely where the Maker landed his boat on the southwestern end of Fredonyer after the big flood (see Dixon [1912] and Shipley [1991] for the Maidu flood tale). By the side of the Maker's trail, which passes by this mountain, sits a stone lizard with closed eyes that catches animals with his tongue. When the Maker traveled this way, the animals told him to be careful because this bad thing would get him. The Maker, who was not intimidated, traveled this way despite the warning. When he saw the lizard, he hit it with his staff and said, "You will do no harm to the animals and my people." He transformed the lizard into a rock that can be seen today.


Lone Pine

Lone Pine (map, No.25) is an abandoned village site near Joskopim yamanim, or Fox Mountain (see above). According to Viola Williams, a Honey Lake Maidu named Bob Taylor lived here. He was Roxie Peconom's cousin. The Maidu called Bob Taylor "Joskopim" because he lived near the hill by this name. Leona Morales (personal communication 1979) knew his family: He had a wife and two daughters.... They had a place where the big old pine tree used to stand.... That's where his home was, where the city dump is. He had a nice spring there. And he had it fixed good so it'd keep cool in the summertime.... And he used to give what you called Wedam every spring. Today the white people and different ones call it Bear Dance. He always gave it in the spring when the wormwood and their pretty flowers came out. He was Julia's brother. And he had three other sisters besides Julia. There was Emma Wilson and then there was Annie Thompson....They lived in down around Janesville all of their lives.... They died and were buried down there in the old Indian cemetery. A large Bear Dance and a roundhouse (see Figures 38-40) were photographed in Lone Pine around 1900 (see Evans 1978:36-40). One photograph shows a group of men firing guns into the air at the end of the Bear Dance, an element of the ritual that is no longer practiced. Bob Taylor, who was born around 1841, received Susanville allotment number 26 in 1908 (Bob n.d.). Occupation at the Lone Pine site (recorded as CA-LAS-56; Riddell 1949) may go back to early historical times or even to the Prehistoric Period.


Maidu Burial Area

Ron Morales recalled that George Peconom hunted on the western side of Karlo for rabbit, deer, and pronghorn, particularly during the months of October, November, and December when the game would be fat and healthy. Ron and Parr LaMarr accompanied George on many of these hunting trips. If the hunting was not good on the western side of Karlo, George would take them to the eastern part. Rabbits killed in these areas in the summer months might have boils. If George killed rabbits in summer, he would skin them to check for boils and throw them away if they had any. They hunted deer and pronghorn at other times of the year but not during the rut or mating season. Some of the largest deer came from the northern and eastern slopes of Viewland. George would point toward the slope of Five Springs Mountains (map, No.26) and say, "Some of our people are buried over there. Don't fool around there and don't hunt there." Snowstorm Mountain is also located in this area, but George called it Eagle Mountain because of the numerous eagles that would swoop down from there to kill rabbits.



Long Valley

On the Diamond Mountain crest above the property of Herman Pottery in Long Valley (on Highway 395) is a rock on the horizon that Leona Morales said was an Indian woman sitting (map, No. 27). When Ron was a child, she would point up the hill when passing this place and say, "Our people used to live there." These people were related to the Gorbet and Lowry families. Lorena Gorbet, a Greenville Maidu, stated that her relatives once lived there (L. Gorbet, personal communication 1994). Lorena's grandmother's sister, Maggie Lowry, lived and died there of smallpox in the 1890's. The grandmother, Annie Lowry, who lived in Indian Valley, showed Lorena where her sister lived. According to Lorena, when her grandmother was a child, the Indian Valley side of the family would load up the children in a buckboard and go up over the grade from Quincy, camp near Graeagle, and arrive in Honey Lake Valley the second day. They would stay for maybe a week (for Bear Dance or some other activity) and then make the two-day journey back to Greenville. Annie Lowry, who was the youngest in her family, was born in 1885. Annie told Lorena a family story about Annie's grandfather's death. He had a family in Honey Lake Valley and another family in Indian Valley. He misjudged the weather and froze to death in his camp while crossing Wildcat Ridge. Family members from both sides searched for him and found him, thereby discovering that he had two families (L. Gorbet, personal communication 1994).






According to Ron Morales, this is the end of the Maidu range this is as far as they lived. Lilly Baker still gathers willows here for basketry (see Fig. 9, page 10) because the best young willows grow between Doyle and Long Valley. The area is also known for eagles.



Sumbilim (see Fig. 27, page 18) is an old village site in Susanville west of the Rancheria near the Indian Heights Mission Church (map, No. 28). It is named for a little plant that looks like a wild pea. Lokbom, a medicinal plant, once grew there. The settlement was prehistoric and no one remembers the name of the people who lived there. In more recent times, a Filipino man named Sam Banayat, who was married to a Maidu woman named Frances, owned a gambling hall there. He sold the land to a group of Indians in 1947. The new proprietors, who included Ellen Yemee, Georgine Slabey, Robert Yemee, and Leona Morales (all Maidu), and Dora Zacharias (who was white), then built the Indian Heights Mission, known today as the Indian Heights Full Gospel Church. Riddell (1949), who identified this site (CA-LAS-35) by the Maidu name, described it as a historical Maidu village site and a good spot for gathering sumbilim, the roots of which the Maidu used as a poultice (see Evans 1978:4, 16).



The Honey Lake Maidu referred to the sweeping valley area below Susanville (map, No. 29) as Kojo, which means "valley." Leona Morales and Sara Worth, a recently deceased Maidu speaker from Greenville, also referred to the area as koyom.



Wetajam was a big Maidu village in southwestern Susanville (map, No. 30), where Roxie Peconom is said to have been born in 1851. Roxie's mother, Betsy Charlie, was born in a village very near here at the south end of Elysian Valley. Roundhouses existed at these as well as several other nearby villages. Nothing is left of the village at Wetajam, but there are many unmarked burials. Ron has never looked around because he was told to stay away by his relatives, who avoided the place because Roxie's husband, John Peconom, died here of smallpox and was buried on the property. Viola never visited the village site for the same reason. Her mother told her to stay away because one could hear a shaman's cocoon rattle there at night. She said the rattle belonged to John Peconom, who was a good shaman. Viola's mother would point to a spot on the Hulsman property and tell her that that was where Roxie was born. Indian Jim Hulsman, who was Maidu, took his name from the white rancher who owned the property. Leona Morales said of Indian Jim Hulsman, "Jim Hulsman's father and my grandfather's father were two brothers. I don't remember their names. They had Indian names. And they married two sisters" (L. Morales, personal communication 1979). When the whites came, they wanted the little meadow where Jim was living, so they built him a cabin nearby. One can still see the remains of his orchard. Jeanette, who was John Peconom's sister, was born and buried here. May Hulsman, who was Viola's grandmother's sister, also was born and buried here. Roxie Peconom lived at Wetajam from birth until she was a grown woman. John Peconom used to cut wood (sugar pine, oak, cedar) for the nearby ranchers. Roxie was the last Maidu to live here. According to Viola, there are two more Wetajams below the one on Hulsman's ranch. She learned from her mother that there was one at the eastern end of Elysian Valley and another about a mile south from there (see also Wetajam, Sand Slough above). Neither Viola nor Ron know the meaning of Wetajam, which also was the name of a headman of the village. References indicating that this was a large Maidu village appear in early issues of The Lassen Advocate. For example, the May 21, 1887 edition announced that, "A grand Indian dance was given at the Digger camp near John Hulsman's Ranch last Saturday night. Quite a large delegation of "pale faces" from Susanville attended" (Figure 40) (Anonymous 1887:3). Riddell (1949) recorded Wetajam in 1949 as CA-LAS-59. He described it as a historical Maidu winter village with one dance house pit and six regular house pits. Evans (1978:4) noted that in more recent times the village was known as Jim's camp.


Charley Brown's Burial Ground

Close to the California Correctional Center is a large cemetery that is still in use (map, No. 31). It is approximately 14 yards wide, 23 yards long, and is surrounded by a steel wire fence. The Brown family is among the oldest known to be buried in this early cemetery. We counted at least 20 graves, three of which were marked by modern headstones, the most recent of which was dated 1991. Some were marked by small metal plates with the names engraved on them. All were aligned from west to east with the heads towards the west so that when they rise they will face east. All visible graves were small mounds encircled by stones that ranged in size from three to four inches to 10 to 15 inches. Many had larger stones at the head and somewhat smaller stones at the foot and were decorated with plastic flowers. This area is known as Leavitt Lake.


Servilicn Burial Area

By the Pierce McCelland Ranch off Alexander Lane in Standish is a burial site for two adult Maidus and an infant (map, No. 32). The first stone on the south side of the site reads, "Frank Servilicn 1828-1908." He was said to have been the chief of all the people in American Valley, Indian Valley, Big Meadows, and Honey Lake Valley. Roxie Peconom knew Frank Servilicn when she was a young girl. His Maidu name was Syhylim, which means "mosquito" (see Riddell 1968:87-88; Evans 1978:2).


The middle grave reads, "Art Servilicn Baby." The north stone reads, "Dave Servilicn 1852-1922." Frank was Dave's father. The graves have manos and metates resting on the surface, and several rusted cans for flowers remain from when the cemetery was last tended. Scatterings of stones in the cemetery indicate that other more traditional unmarked graves may also exist. Surface indications of earlier habitation, such as manos, projectile points, and flakes of basalt and obsidian, surround the cemetery, suggesting that the historical burials are vestiges of an older village site. The section of Susan River Creek where Roxie Peconom and Maude Thomas gathered willows is about 400 yards from the Servilican cemetery and habitation remains.


Willow Creek Valley

Many Maidu lived and were buried in Willow Creek Valley (map, No.32), which was close to and maybe part of the country of the Pit River people with whom they intermarried. According to Andrew Jackson (personal communication 1995), who was born here in 1928 of mixed Maidu and Pit River parentage, Maidu and Pit River people had boundaries but lived on both sides of them. Many also were able to speak two or three different Indian languages. Although Jackson now lives in Susanville, he still owns land here and takes care of the family cemetery. In November of 1967, Steve Camacho interviewed Mrs. Anne Bourdet Hagata, who had lived in the Willow Creek Valley since 1904. Mrs. Hagata (personal communication 1967) attested to the occupation of the Willow Creek area by Maidu and Pit River people early in the twentieth century:

The first Indian that I met was at the old homestead in 1904. I was going to get water from one of the springs nearby. I opened the screen door of the house and there stood an Indian man. I was frightened and he knew it. He immediately replied, in English, "Its alright, John is my friend." The Indian had a friendly face, wore moccasins and the rest of his clothes were like what white people wear. The Indians in Willow Creek Valley were very dignified and honest. Most of the Indians that lived in the valley were a mixture of Maidu and Pit Indians, and some were part white. The Jackson and the Wilson families, local Indians [both mentioned in the 1905-1906 Kelsey census (1971)], used to work for the ranchers in the valley. They worked hard, they had a sense of humor....The ones that died were buried in their separate burial grounds, here in Willow Creek. Areas of land in the Willow Creek were shared by both the Maidus and the Pits. Both tribes inter-married with one another for as long as I can remember.

Mrs. Hagata said that she was curious about the Indians leaving the Willow Creek area during the Winter, so she asked them "Where do you go? They replied, We spend our winters away down near the hot springs, near Amedee, near the Nevada border. Our boundary goes all the way up to Horse Lake".

In the 1920s, when government allotments became vacant, the Indian Agent in the valley granted both Maidu and Pit Indians some land:

I remember Indians in the valley left their allotted homes in the spring and lived off the land.... The migratory trail led them in an easterly direction towards our ranch. Their first camp was near Antelope Springs. Their second stop was near Rice Canyon. From there, the Indians walked along the southern edge of Tunnison Mountain, and the western slopes of Horse Lake Mountain, still traveling north gathering edible plants available along Pete'' Valley, and those foods available around the marshy wet meadows around Horse Lake... the Indian men used to say that the mule deer in the valley began their northerly migration to the high grounds of Fredonyer Mountain. The deer, does, and the new fawns feed on these grasses at the higher elevation of the mountains north of the valley, and we pursued them.... When the Indians left the Horse Lake area up north, they headed south on the old Horse Lake road, then they traveled up the eastern slopes of Fredonyer Moun-tain and camped at Cottonwood springs. They remained there for two or three months. I remember the women would gather sweet columbine plants and suck the sweet tip of the flower. I tried it myself and it was good and sweet. The men hunted the mule deer, rabbits, and fished all of the streams nearby. ...The next southerly migratory stop was at the Straylor Ranch and they remained there for some time.... From the Straylor Ranch the Indians returned to their allotted homes in Willow Creek. At the same time of the year the mule deer were migrating south from the high country of Fredonyer Mountain to their wintering area, which was Willow Creek, where the Indians were camped. The Indians always had meat to eat. In the valley the Indians killed deer, ducks, and speared fish. The Indians walked the short route along the old Merrillville Road north to Eagle Lake, and then the Indians took an old Indian trail along the eastern shores of Eagle Lake. Here they fished, and speared and netted fish from the lake... the Indians in the valley speared and netted the Eagle Lake trout along Pine Creek... The fish would get trapped upstream and they would splash everywhere in the shallow stream, and some of them would flip themselves out of the stream and land along the dry banks of the creek. The fish were easily caught. The Indians dried many of the fish and the rest were sold to the white people in the area. [A. Hagata, personal communication 1967]

Mrs. Hagata (personal communication 1967) said that she was once invited to dinner by a Willow Creek Indian, Mrs. Moore, who was a full-blooded Maidu and who cooked the best spareribs, chicken, and vegetables that she had ever tasted. She also remembered Kate Stressley, a Maidu Indian who lived in the southeastern end of the valley, and whose house had burned down. According to Mrs. Hagata (personal communication 1967) she was crying and said "I lost the picture of my husband." Camacho interviewed Louie Shipes, a Maidu, about rock art. Shipes (personal communication 1972) said that "The old-timers used to say that the Maker left marks all over Maidu country." When asked where, he replied, "Around the Last Chance area, over the pass toward Squaw Valley, Willow Creek, Westwood, and the Eagle Lake area. He left his mark to show us that he was here and that he would return to his people." (L. Shipes, personal communication 1972). According to Viola Williams, Charley Brown once visited Leona Peconom Morales and they talked about the petryglyphs at Willow Creek. He told her she should never say anything about these petryglyphs to white people and she never did.

Maidu Burial Site

This unmarked cemetery near Hooley's Hill by Grand Avenue in Susanville (Fig. 12, No. 34) is thought to date to the mid-nineteenth century or even earlier. Viola's mother told her that it is a Maidu burial site for people who lived at Sumbilim. Ron's mother showed him the spot where an old couple was buried. They do not know the family name. Ron's mother told him and other children not to sled or play in this area out of respect for the old burial ground.


Tymbakam, Shaffer Mountain

Leona Morales attributed the Indian name for Shaffer Mountain (Fig. 12, No. 35) to the large sunflowers that grow here. Ron Morales hunted deer, pronghorn and rabbits in this area with George Peconom, who learned to hunt here with his father. According to George, his uncle, Samson Lamb (or Doc Samson) also hunted pronghorn at Shaffer Mountain. There is a pronghorn trail here, and on the far side there was a village for killing pronghorn. George knew of Maidu winter village sites in this general area.

George was asked about coyotes in the Shaffer area, and he replied "The best place around Susanville was in and around Shaffer Mountain and the valley behind it... the area was very rocky, steep, and [had] a lot of cover for coyotes and bobcats." (G. Peconom, personal communication 1968). He also said it was a good place for hunting doves. "The doves like the sunflower seeds that grow out there. That's where the doves feed, so it's good hunting." When asked what time of day was best for hunting doves, George said, "Just before sundown, if there is any water they fly near the puddles of water to drink. We used to kill them then all the time." (G. Peconom, personal communication 1968).

George instructed Ron never to shoot a pronghorn while it is moving because the meat will be "strong": better to shoot when it is lying down or standing. Steve Camacho knows of many "ring pits" for hunting pronghorn at Shaffer, pits that are about six feet in diameter and two- to three-feet deep. Pronghorn can be seen in this area in April and May when the best grass is available and when the pronghorn feed their young.

The Karlo area, about four to five miles north of Shaffer Mountain, was a popular spot for jackrabbits, cottontail and grouse. Ron noted that he and George would hunt there all day in the summer. George would say, "If you see a coyote, shoot him. They are no good. No animal will eat them." Even the Magpie will not eat them, and they are the biggest scavengers. George would see a coyote who would be watching them eat lunch, take a bite of his sandwich, look up, and the coyote would be sitting somewhere else. The same thing would happen if you drank water: the coyote would be watching, you would look away, and then he would be sitting somewhere else. Their spirits can do that.

In this general area, and at Karlo, eagles were known to fly down fast for rabbits, and kill themselves by hitting the rocks. Maidu would gather feathers from such places. George talked of a large eagle that lived on top of Shaffer Mountain that cast an immense shadow when it flew overhead (G. Peconom, personal communication 1968). The Maidu also gathered young and tender sunflower stalks and seeds, spring tea, desert tea (e.g., squaw tea, which was good for purifying the blood), white sage, and juniper around Shaffer Mountain, Karlo, and nearby Willow Creek. They boiled the sage and juniper together as a treatment for colds. Leona Morales explained to Camacho that, "Squaw tea was picked along the Milford, Shaffer Mountain, Belfast, Amadee, and Antelope [areas] and it was always found along the east side of the hill. Squaw tea needs a lot of sun. We use it for medicine and also as a tea." (L. Morales, personal communication 1970). Petryglyphs are abundant in this vicinity and include figures of a burden basket and what appears to be a characteristic Maidu baby basket with a pointed bottom.

Maidu Village Site

George Peconom told Ron Morales of a Maidu village site to the northeast of Highway 139 near Viewland on the way toward Secret Valley (directly above the Bureau of Land Management wild horse corral) (Fig. 12 No. 36). While hunting jackrabbits, George pointed to a rocky hill and said, "Our people lived right up in there." Most of the site has been removed by a gravel and rock crushing operation. In April 1995, there was still evidence of intense habitation exposed on the surface of the site, including manos, metates, a stone pestle, numerous basalt and obsidian flakes, and animal bones. George did not know the names of the individuals who lived at this site, but had learned from his father that it was a Maidu habitation area.

Morales and Camacho speculated that this is a spring and summer campsite for hunting mule deer and pronghorn. Mule deer pass through here in the spring on the way to Diamond Mountain, where they give birth and graze until the first snow. Pronghorn also pass by on their way to Honey Lake, where they graze and have their young. Although no oaks now grow nearby, sunflower and other edible seeds (as well as jackrabbits, doves, quail, and cottontail) are abundant.




Honey Lake Maidu Territory and Boundaries

The distribution of Honey Lake Valley Maidu village, burial, hunting, gathering, mythic, and healing sites noted in this article agrees closely with the area delineated in Dixon's (1905: Plate XXXVIII) map showing "location and subdivisions of the Maidu Indians and surrounding tribes." Herb Young, Roxie Peconom, and Leona Peconom Morales also gave accounts of Maidu territory to Riddell (1968) and Evans (1978) that correspond in many respects with the distribution of sites presented here. Although we are unable to estimate population figures from our data, we feel confident in suggesting that, in the latter half of the nineteenth century and the early twentieth century, numerous Maidu lived in and were very familiar with the immediate Susanville area, the courses of the Susan River, Elysian Valley, and the acorn-rich corridor on the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada from Janesville, Buntingville, Milford, and Doyle to Long Valley.

Historical period Maidu also were familiar with and utilized areas to the east of Honey Lake, despite the fact that water and plant food resources (but not wild game) diminish in this direction. For example, they traveled to Tommy Tucker Cave and camped by the hot spring near Wendel on the northeast side of Honey Lake. A Maidu trail from American Valley and Indian Valley to the hot springs passed around the south side of the lake. George Peconom and the generation before him were very familiar with the area around the circumference of Shaffer Mountain, where they hunted pronghorn and smaller game, gathered plant foods, and recognized what they understood to be Maidu elements in the prehistoric rock art. All three locations - Tommy Tucker Cave, the hot springs, and Shaffer Mountain - are known to recent generations by Maidu place-names. The location northeast of Honey Lake, said by George to have been a Maidu village at one time (see Honey Lake, above) is an extensive habitation site. George also spoke of Maidu burials in an area where he hunted near Five Springs Mountain (see Maidu Burial Area, above). Both Williams and Morales emphatically dispute the suggestion that the Maidu withdrew from the eastern side of Honey Lake after 1700.

According to George Peconom (personal communication 1965) the Maidu boundary line went from "Long Valley, Milford, west of Horse Lake, and over into Big Valley, from there it is Pit Rivers, the west side of that area are the Hat Creekers." Basing their approximation mainly on conversations with George, but also on the testimonies of Roxie Peconom and Leona Morales, Ron Morales and Steve Camacho traced the Maidu eastern boundary from Long Valley, through Doyle, by the western slope of the Fort Sage Mountains, and north over the top of Amedee and Skedaddle Mountains. They then extended it slightly east of Dixon's (1905: Plate XXXVIII) line toward the eastern part of Little Mud Flats of lower Viewland and along the western slope of Five Springs Mountain. From there it went toward Horse Lake and then toward Heavey Mountain, north of Eagle Lake. This is the boundary shown in Figures 1 and 12. We are aware that boundaries are social constructs that change through time, that may overlap, and about which neighboring groups (or even individuals within groups) may disagree. Our purpose here is to present a Maidu perspective on what they consider the limits of their territorial range to have been in the early historical period.

Dixon (1905:124) noted that the Maidu "never ventured" beyond Willow Creek, which he considered to be Pit River country. Our sources suggest that Maidu intermarried and lived with Pit River people in the Willow Creek Valley area, and that both groups may have exploited and camped seasonally in the Horse Creek area. This interpretation is consistent with the statement made by Evans (1978:26) that, " In response to a question, the informants (i.e., Roxie and Leona) said that the Pit Rivers didn't own Eagle Lake and Horse Lake, but hunted in there (so also did the Maidu, but the two peoples did not meet)". George Peconom told Evans (1978:26) that it would be dangerous for him to hunt alone at Horse Lake if he were to encounter Pit Rivers or Hat Creek people.

Of Pine Creek and Eagle Lake, Dixon (1905:124) noted that they "were continually visited by [Maidu] hunting-parties" but that they "were somewhat doubtfully regarded as... a part of Maidu territory." Our evidence indicates that Maidu visited Pine Creek and Eagle Lake to hunt, fish, and gather wild plant foods, but only camped there. The testimony available to us, however, suggests that they considered the lake and its environs to be within their traditional territory, despite rights other groups also may have had in this northern boundary area. Beyond Eagle Lake, where the territorial frontier drops in a southwesterly direction toward Mount Lassen, we move away from the range of the Honey Lake Maidu toward that of the Big Meadows, Mountain Meadows, and Indian Valley Maidu.

roundhouse at Gladys Mankins' place, near Janesville


Summary and Conclusions

The Maidu emphasized to Dixon (1905:124) at the turn of the century, and continue to believe, that they are the indigenous pre-Euroamerican inhabitants of Honey Lake Valley. Numerous Maidu anecdotes attest that other Native American groups began to settle in the area after the beginning of the Protohistoric Period. Clearly, the Maidu had marriage relations with the Pit River and Hat Creek people, and economic as well as political relations with these and other neighboring groups. Paiute, Pit River, and Washo people lived in or near the Honey Lake Valley in the Historical Period. Yet, curiously, the earliest pioneer histories of this region (Fairfield 1916; Hutchinson 1971) scarcely mention the Maidu. However, Irvin Decious, who came to the valley in 1863, said that Maidu and Paiute both lived in the valley at the time of earliest white settlement (C. Wemple, personal communication 1987). Powers (1877) and Dixon (1905), and more recently, Evans (1978), Riddell(1978b), and Shipley (1978) have written of the Maidu's indigenous presence in the Susanville and Honey Lake Valley region. We have added firsthand knowledge and interview material attributable mainly to Honey Lake Maidu sources that supplement and, to some extent, expand upon the information available to earlier ethnographers. Despite the immigration of a diversity of ethnic groups, Indian and non-Indian, into the Honey Lake Valley in the early historical period, and despite the proliferation of non-Maidu place names and settlements that reflects this incursion, Maidu memories of indigenous predecessors, village sites, burial sites, hunting and gathering sites, and sites noted in oral tradition attest to their familiarity with, utilization of, and sense of belonging to this region. The numerous Maidu burials provide support for claims of living Maidu that this has been their home for a very long time. Separated from the Prehistoric Period by some 160 years, the Maidu live simultaneously in an earlier world known mainly to them and in a later world demarcated by surveyors' lines, streets, highways, city limits, county lines and zip codes known to all. Both worlds coexist for them on a single landscape.In this article, we have continued the process, begun by Dixon, Riddell, and Evans, of identifying the Maidu story of this landscape as it is known to them in the present and from the recent past.

Maidu bashet


Numerous individuals assisted us in this work, for which we are very grateful. Particular thanks are to Francis Riddell, William Shipley and Kent Lightfoot for reading and commenting in detail upon a draft manuscript. While we appreciate this generous help, we are solely responsible for all errors, misunderstandings, and other shortcomings that may exist in the final version.


Amesbury, Robert,

1971 Eagle Lake. Susanville: Western Printing Publishing


1887 Untitled. The Lassen Advocate 22(27):3, May 12


1977 Strange Creature is Reported Sighted at Lake. Lassen Advocate, August 10

Bob, Indian

n.d. Land Transaction Records, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Sacramento Area Office, Susanville, Box # 75. On file at the National Archives, Pacific Sierra Region, San Bruno, California

Buckout, Martha Hunsinger

1979 I Remember Susanville,Susanville: Lassen County Historical Society, Occasional Paper No. 19.

Dixon, Roland B.

1902 Maidu Myths. New York: Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 17(2):33-118

1905 The Northern Maidu. New York: Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History 17(3):119-346

1912 Maidu Texts. Publications of the American Ethnographical Society IV.

Du Bois, Cora

1939 The 1870 Ghost Dance. University of California Anthropological Records 3(1)

Evans, William S.

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