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By M. Patterson

The AmericanIndian tradition consisted of particular customs and traditions that regulated every thing from who might lead the tribes to who might marry in the tribes. They stored special, distinctive debts in their tribal histories simply because they foresaw the significance of passing down their histories.

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13 Several oral traditions have recorded these same events. Quechans, for example, recount the story of Kwikumat and Blind-Old-Man, the creators of all Yuman speakers. Kwikumat and Blind-Old-Man emerged from a large body of water (either Lake Cahuilla or the Gulf of California) and [28] native histories and the interior world competed over creating the first man and woman. Kwikumat created the Quechans, Kumeyaays, Cocopahs, and Maricopas and instructed Quechan women to marry Quechan men. When one refused, indicating interest in a more handsome Cocopah, Kwikumat angrily destroyed all the Yuman speakers (except the Quechans) by flooding the world with water.

Centers of activity dotted the landscape, including towns among the Chumash, Quechan, Akimel O’odham, Yokuts, Hopi, and Zuni. During the sixteenth century, resource intensification among these groups corresponded with the effects of the Little Ice Age.

Cultivators selectively burned underneath oaks to suppress weeds, disease, and insect pests (which diverted nutrients away from the trees and acorns), force limb growth upward away from the ground (to deter easy access for competing rodents), and clear brush (to allow for easier acorn gathering). Annually set fires also encouraged the growth of edible mushrooms and deer grass (prized for basket making). This carefully controlled management led to huge orchards containing large, acorn-abundant oaks (many at least 100 years old) within extensive grassy fields throughout the San Joaquin Valley and Tehachapi/Sierra Nevada foothills.

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