Such are the principal characteristics of the religion of the Indians of California as a whole, and of the larger ethnographical areas of the state. It is obvious that with so great a linguistic and political diversification as existed among these Indians, there must have been many local modifications of the scheme which has been outlined. The most conspicuous or best known of these special modifications it is the purpose of the remainder of this paper to consider. In this review the groups to be taken up will, for the, sake of greatest convenience of classification, be the linguistic families. These numerous families are territorially so restricted, and usually so small in numbers, that they almost form the equivalent of the tribe in other regions of North America, that is to say, of a subdivision of the family. Strictly there are no tribes in the greater part of California. The families or stocks are the largest linguistic units, usually subdivided into several dialectic areas, each of which contains a number of small village communities that are the only units of political or social organization.
In the Northwestern region, in spite of the excessive imitation of this territory, a distinction must be made between three tribes which occupy the heart of the region, and show the culture in its most extreme form, and a fringe of surrounding tribes where the Northwestern culture is either less developed or subject to greater extraneous influences. The three more characteristic
groups are the Yurok and Karok, small independent linguistic families, and the Hupa division of the Athabascan family. These alone practice the Deerskin dance and the "New Year's" or world-making ceremonies. With them also the peculiar mythological and shamanistic conceptions typical of the region are found in the purest form. The surrounding tribes are the Wishosk or Wiyot, perhaps the Chimariko and some of the Shasta, the Athabascan Tolowa, and the Athabascans southwest of the Hupa.
The Yurok held the Deerskin and Jumping dances at three places along the Klamath river, and the Jumping dance alone at three points on the coast to the south. At the mouth of the river an annual spring ceremony to cause or regulate the ascent of the salmon was made. Until this ceremony had been made salmon were not eaten. The shamans of the Yurok were almost all women. Alone of all the tribes in the Northwestern region the Yurok held no dance or public ceremony on the occasion of a girl's puberty, Their traditions seem to have the peculiar Northwestern qualities perhaps more deeply impressed upon them than even those of their neighbors, the Karok and Hupa, especially in regard to the underlying conception of a previous race and its function. In accord with the development of this conception, the mythical heroes of the Yurok show less approximation to being creators than those of the other tribes, and animals are mentioned in the mythology surprisingly little.
The Karok, who live immediately upstream from the Yurok on the Klamath, held the Deerskin and Jumping dances at three places. At each of these the dances were conducted in connection with a sacred ceremony called "New Year's" by the whites and "making the world" by the Indians. This ceremony was performed early in autumn, practically by one man, the priest who knew the formula and ritual. A similar ceremony was held at a fourth locality in spring, in connection with the coming of the salmon. The Karok regard the Deerskin and Jumping dances of the Yurok and Hupa as the equivalents of these ceremonies of their own, reckoning altogether ten places in the world at which they are performed.. Karok mythology is of the Northwestern type, but shows more animal characters than that of the Yurok.
The territory held by the Hupa was much less extended than that of their neighbors, and this was no doubt the occasion of their making only one Deerskin and Jumping dance in their valley. They held a New Year's ceremony in autumn which had distinct reference to the acorn crop. Ceremonials and restrictions connected with menstruation were considerably developed much more than among the neighboring Yurok. It was thought dangerous to speak to a dog, as he might be provoked to answer, which would be a fatal portent.
The religion of the other Athabascans in this part of the state is very little known, but it is certain that before the southern end of Humboldt county is reached, in other words, in the Eel river drainage, a totally distinct set of conceptions and practices is encountered, which are allied to those of the Central religion.
The Wiyot or Wishosk, who adjoin the Yurok on the south, did not practice the Jumping dance, other ceremonies, which are very little known, taking, its place among them. One dance was performed by women standing up to the hips in water. Shamanism is of more prominence among them than with their neighbors the Yurok, and men as well as women are affected with supernatural powers. The sex of the guardian spirit is usually the opposite of that of the shaman. It is possible that on account of the almost complete disappearance of their tribal life and of the communal religious practices, shamanism, which has been retained with greater vigor among the Wiyot, now appears relatively more important, as the only remnant of the religious side of their culture. An elaborate hanging feather head-dress, a belt, a pipe for smoking, and another for sucking, are the constant paraphernalia of the medicine-man. Two shamans often support each other in curing disease, one diagnosing, the other removing the pain. The mythology of the Wiyot resembles that of the Yurok chiefly through possessing certain specific narrative episodes in common with it. But the idea of a previous parallel race is very little developed, and there is a true creator, Above-Old-Man. Most of the other mythical characters are animals. The whole mythology therefore is of the Central rather than of the Northwestern type.
With the Yuki of Mendocino county a pure form of the
Central culture obtains. The creator is Taikomol, "he who goes alone." His companion, who supplements his work, especially as regards the culture of man, is Coyote. There is a Taikomol ceremony in which this character is impersonated, and which is shamanistic at least to the degree of being performed to cure an individual of sickness. There is no trace of the sacred formulae of the Northwest. The shaman, who is usually a man, receives his power either by dreaming or in a vision in a desolate place. His power is not sought by him and he possesses definite guardian spirits. Bear shamans are much feared. All the Yuki possess a sacred society initiation ceremony, in which performances of magic are prominent. Among the northern Yuki and neighboring Wailaki this is called Flint ceremony, and the initiates display magic powers in handling and swallowing flint points. Among the southern Yuki, as among the neighboring Pomo and Athabascan Kato, the ceremony relates to ghosts and is popularly known as Devil dance. The members possess power of causing sickness and contend against each other much like the shamans of the Maidu and Yokuts.
One of the most conspicuous features of the religion of the Pomo, who are south of the Yuki, is their shamanistic fetishes. The medicine-man possesses a number of objects, stones, parts of animals, and other articles, which he treasures and with which his power is largely bound up. Pomo mythology is characterized by the importance of Coyote, who comes nearer than any other personage to playing the part of creator. In certain ceremonies there are exhibitions of fire-eating and the clown occurs.
The Wintun occupy a territory which is of much greater extent from north to south than from east to west. The northern and southernmost members of the family therefore differ considerably. In the north there is a well defined conception of a creator who dwells above, and to whom Coyote forms an antithesis. In the south, where everything shows the Wintun and Pomo to have influenced each other considerably, he is replaced by Coyote. In both regions a world-fire is prominent in the mythology. In the north the shaman is inaugurated in his career in a ceremony in which he is assisted by his older colleagues. The southern Wintun may prove to have been the people who
largely developed the dances and ceremonies characteristic of a large part of the Sacramento valley. They show much in common with their western neighbors the Pomo, and with the Maidu who adjoin them on the east and who themselves declare that they have derived the Hesi and other dances from them.
None of the groups so far discussed, with the possible exception of part of the Wintun, practiced any distinct mourning ceremony. On the other hand, all that follow, with the possible doubtful exception of one or two tribes on the outskirts of the state, held mourning ceremonies as among the most important of all their religious practices.
The Maidu everywhere possessed a secret society. Their system of dances becomes less and less developed as one proceeds farther from Wintun influence. Among the mountain tribes almost all ceremonies were much less developed than in the Sacramento valley. Shamanistic beliefs and practices also varied, although there was everywhere a clear idea of spirits personally acquired and controlled by the medicine-man. Among the northeastern Maidu every shaman's son invariably became a shaman, although only through his own acquisition of spirits, which might be those of his father. In the Sacramento valley spirits were acquired by involuntary dreaming without much regard to heredity. Puberty ceremonies for girls were performed both among the northwestern and northeastern Maidu, perhaps among those of the south also. The mythology of the several Maidu divisions is much more uniform than their religious practices. The creator is always opposed and his beneficent work rendered incomplete by Coyote. It is clear that the mythology of the Maidu is distinctive and much less under Wintun influence than their ceremonies.
Among the Miwok the Coyote largely takes the place of the creator. As among their northern neighbors the Maidu, the mourning ceremony was important, and the two stocks held at least certain dances in common. The individual mourning practices and restrictions of the widow were elaborate and severe. Nothing is as yet known of a secret society, but as both the southern and northern neighbors of the Miwok performed initiation ceremonies, it is likely that they also possessed them.
Among the Yokuts, who occupied the head of the San Joaquin-Tulare valley south of the Miwok, there are no traces of the ceremonial system of the Sacramento valley, which is replaced by public shamanistic ceremonies, in which contests and exhibitions of magic were conspicuous. The annual rattlesnake ceremony which has been described is of this type, as is the Ohowish, a ceremony in which medicine-men from different villages or districts directed their powers against each other. There seem to have been also certain animal dances among the Yokuts. Medicine-men usually acquired their power by dreaming, sometimes by visions while alone. Bear shamans were known, but were not so much dreaded as farther north. Rain doctors, who could control the weather, were important. Their power was bound up with certain stone amulets evidencing a fetishistic development. Formulae, some with ritualistic accompaniment, were spoken, but differed from those of the Northwest in being short direct prayers or supplications instead of mythical narratives. The creators in Yurok mythology are several animals, the chief of whom is the eagle and among whom Coyote always finds a place. A favorite mythological personage is the prairie-falcon, and a myth which has found a particular development relates the visit of a husband to the world of the dead in pursuit of his wife.
Very little is known of the ethnology of the coast tribes west of the Miwok and Yokuts. Among the Southern Costanoan peoples creation myths resembling those of the Yokuts are found. Coyote is at once a trickster and a giver of civilization and arts to man. Similar ideas probably prevailed among the Salinan tribes. As regards the Esselen and Chumash nothing is known.
Tribes belonging to the great Shoshonean family held almost all the eastern border of the state as well as a large part of the southern desert and coast region. The former inhabited the Great Basin, and are culturally entirely distinct from those of Southern California, of whom alone is there any considerable knowledge extant as regards religion. Certain of the northern groups, such as the Mono, lived on the western or California slope of the Sierra Nevada, in contact with the Yokuts and Miwok, and partook more largely of the culture and presumably religion of these people than of the tribes of the Basin.
Among the Shoshoneans of Southern California, such as the Gabrielino and Luiseño, the so-called Mission Indians, mourning ceremonies were more important than any others, and were held both on the death of a person, sometime afterwards, and again in a still more public manner at large gatherings. At some of these ceremonies images representing the dead, and recalling those of the Maidu far to the north, were burned. One form of mourning ceremony was the Eagle dance, performed with an eagle that was slowly killed as the ceremony went on through the night. Many of the songs of the mourning ceremonies are of mythological content, referring to the great leader or culture-hero Wiyot. The puberty ceremonial for girls was elaborate and contained symbolic actions. The initiation of males was intended for boys, and therefore also took on largely the character of a puberty ceremony. This character was heightened by the presence of numerous ordeals. Part of the initiation of boys consisted of the drinking of jimson-weed. Sand paintings of a very simple type, evidently influenced by basket patterns, but thoroughly symbolic in meaning and therefore essentially of the same nature as those of the Pueblos and Navaho, were made in connection with this initiation. On the whole religious symbolism was more developed than in Central California or even among the Yuman tribes to the east, who are geographically so much nearer the Indians of the Southwest. The shaman acquired his power by dreaming, and the pipe with which he sucked as well as smoked was of the utmost importance to him. Paraphernalia were much used by the shamans, especially boards or wooden swords, which were swallowed and worn as head-dresses. These, however, were not purely fetishistic objects, but of potency rather through symbolism and association. The mythology of the Shoshonean Mission Indians was not essentially different from that of the other Indians of Southern California.
The Yuman family, which is so much represented in Arizona and Lower California, occupied the southernmost portion of Southern California. The Diegueño in the coast mountains and on the coast were culturally similar to the Shoshonean Luiseño, with whom they are generally included as the present Mission Indians. Along the Colorado river the physical and ethnic environment
was quite different, but as has already been said, there was much closer resemblance to the Mission Indians in matters of religion than in almost any other phase of culture. The principal Yuman tribes in this Colorado region are the Mohave and the Yuma. The religion of only the former is known, but the two give every evidence of having been very similar. The religion of the Shoshonean Paiute or Chemehuevi in the desert adjoining the Mohave has been largely colored by the influence of the latter. The most distinctive feature of Mohave religion is the insistence upon dreaming as the source of everything religious, although this dreaming must be interpreted rather as a belief in the presence of the individual in spirit form at the great events of mythic times. All myths that are at all of sacred character are believed not to be handed down by tradition, but to be dreamed by each narrator. The shaman receives his power by dreaming ritualistic myths, which reveal to him his practices. The lengthy series of songs which are the essence of all ceremonies, and the mythical narratives connected with them, are also learned in dreams. It is probably a result of this importance of the dream-world and of the identification of myth and ceremony, of religious belief and religious practice, that ritualism is so slightly developed among the Mohave. Their geographical nearness and intercourse with the Hopi and other southwestern tribes, among whom ritualism and symbolism find perhaps their highest development on the continent north of Mexico, would certainly justify a contrary expectation. Both ceremonial actions and ceremonial paraphernalia and dress are developed only to a very slight extent. There is no initiation or society. The singing ceremonies, which with the exception of a few minor observances such as that for a girl's puberty, constitute all the Mohave ceremonies other than mourning ceremonies, are quite numerous, more than twenty being known. Some of these ceremonies are acknowledged to have been borrowed from other Yuman tribes, especially the Yuma, and these Indians no doubt have also acquired Mohave ceremonies. Some of the ceremonies are primarily mythical in character, others somewhat shamanistic. All are also sung in mourning. In addition there is a distinctive mourning ceremony held annually for important men.