chapter  7
65 Pages

The Intermontane West and California

WithAlice B. Kehoe

This chapter discusses three geographic provinces; the Plateau, the Great Basin of Nevada and Utah, and California. East and west boundaries are sharp but broken by good passes. To the north, the Plateau narrows into slimmer, more heavily forested intermontane valleys in British Columbia. An ecological and cultural division of the Plateau into a northern, or Canadian, component and a southern, or United States, component does not coincide with the linguistic division, which lies almost 200 miles south of the ecological-cultural transition at approximately the international border. Southern California's more rounded mountains and many tidal marshes and lagoons, its semiaridity, and relative ease of passage between it and the Great Basin made it ecologically suited to, and accessible to, Numic speakers. Ecologically distinctive central California was also an economically specialized region, in which nut flour was the staple food, amply supplemented by deer and small game, birds, fish, ground seeds, and fruit.