By the 15th century, 1/3 of Native Americans lived in California.
California was extremely diverse, with hundreds of different tribes, including the Pomo (Northwest), Achumawi (Northeast), Miwok (Sierras), Maidu (Central Valley), Chumash (Central Coast and Islands), Cahuilla (Southern desert)...
The population was often highly mobile, following game and fruit, nuts and berries sources depending on the season.
Common diets included acorns, salmon, seeds, berries, rabbit, deer... with regional supplements of sea lion, whale, snake, lizard, grasshoppers... depending on where the tribe had settled.
Most tribes settled in villages. The largest included up to 1,000 people and some tribes, like the Miwok, could have hundreds.
Villages were locally governed, fiercely independent and self-sufficient, surrounded by an abundance of food.
Beautiful artefacts from this period include:
- Chumash sea canoes
- Tolowa river canoes
- Pomo baskets
- Cahuilla agave clothing and sandals...
The arrival of the Europeans was catastrophic.
By the 19th century it's estimated that 90% of Native Californians had died of exposure to violence or disease.