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Antelope Valley Indian Peoples

The Annual Gathering Cycle and Food Supply


Yucca whipplei
Many of the native groups living in the vicinity of the Antelope Valley gathered and processed wild plants together every year. This round-up or round, along with the capacity to store such foods, determined how abundant a village’s food supply would be during the course of the year.

Food supplies were shortest during late winter and spring. The stored winter reserves were partly used up, and villagers awaited the plant harvests of spring and early summer. The first major item to become available, usually in late April, was the stalk of Yucca whipplei (Our Lord's Candle or Spanish Bayonet), which was baked in earth ovens and could then be eaten immediately or dried and stored.

In May and the early summer months some small plants with edible roots or leaves became available. Plants with hard seeds, such as chia and Indian rice grass, became increasingly available as the summer unfolded. These were important sources of nutrition. Carrizo grass sugar along streams and at springs also became available by this time.


rice grass

chia

In August juniper berries (on the valley floor and foothills) and mesquite beans (along low-lying flats and dry lake shores) were collected. In August and September the piñon pine nut harvest got underway in the mountains, followed by the acorn harvest in October and November. The acorn harvests were usually carried out in foothill and upland areas. The storage of hard seeds, piñon nuts, and especially acorns were essential to tide the community over the winter.


piñon trees

piñon pine nuts

acorns

mesquite beans

The gathering teams of villagers returned to the winter village after the acorn harvest, as the winter season of social and religious events and the making and repairing of tools and equipment got underway. Hunting was carried out throughout the year, in accordance with the changing locations and habits of large and small game as the months went by. Hunting made the greatest relative contribution to village nutrition during the late winter and spring.


Metate and mano

Mortar and pestle

Barrel Springs mano

Barrel Springs metate

Antelope Valley Indian Peoples
Initial Settlers and the Subsequent Archaic Period << Previous

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