Joshua Tree
The Native American Ethnography and Ethnohistory of Joshua Tree National Park
An Overview
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by Cultural Systems Research, Inc.
August 22, 2002


This report constitutes Phase I of a proposed study of the Ethnography and Ethnohistory of Native Americans of Joshua Tree National Park, hereinafter called the Project Area. It was proposed that Phase I should include a review of archaeological reports, CSRI ethnographic/ethnohistorical reports on the Serrano, Cahuilla, Chemehuevi, and Mojave, and the contents of CSRI's library and archives, in order to draft a preliminary discussion of Native American ethnography and ethnohistory of the area as we presently know it, and the existing resources for further study. It was to be presented in outline form, and be appropriate to serve as a research design for further study.


As proposed, this report has been compiled from previous CSRI reports and materials in CSRI files and library. We have also included valuable ethnographic material from two new books on the Serrano and Chemehuevi, respectively: Wayta' Yawa' by Dorothy Ramon and Eric Elliot (2000), a book in Serrano and English by a Serrano elder and a linguist that includes a great deal of ethnographic information; and Chemehuevi People of the Coachella Valley by Clifford E. Trafzer, Luke Madrigal, and Anthony Madrigal, a book from our perspective somewhat misnamed, since it pertains to the history of the Twenty-nine Palms Band of Mission Indians (1997).

We have reviewed most of the archaeological reports on the park for the purpose of detecting instances where the archaeological evidence is in conflict with the ethnographic and historic. These reports have included the following:

An Archaeological Survey of the Palm Springs Desert Region by Elizabeth W. C. Campbell (1931);

Archaeological Investigations in Joshua Tree National Monument; A study in Adaptive Cultural Change, by Ronald D. Douglas;

Historic Resource Study, A History of Land Use In Joshua Tree National Monument, by Linda W. Greene [This is a history rather than archaeology, but had material on Native Americans];

A Cache of Vessels From Cottonwood Spring, by Thomas J. King;

Archeological Investigations at Joshua Tree National Park, Part 2. Archeological Testing at Six Sites in Joshua Tree National Park, California by Loy C. Neff, and Meredith A. Wilson, with Contributions by Charny L. White, Dawn A. Frost, A.C. MacWilliams, Owen K. Davis, and Philip Derring. Draft, not to be cited.

Using Sample Survey Results To Address Regional Research Designs: An Example From Joshua Tree National Park. San Diego: County of San Diego Department of Public Works, by Anna C. Noah;

"Roasting Pits and Agave in the Mojave Desert: Archaeological, Ethnobotanical, and Ethnographic Data. Abstracts from the 1996 Desert Research Symposium, San Bernardino County Museum Association," 43:29-34 (1996), by Joan S. Schneider, Elizabeth J. Lawlor, and Deborah L. Dozier;

Cremations and associated artifacts from the Campbell collection (N.D.). San Francisco: Performed under a contract for the National Park Service Western Region (1992), by Adella B. Schroth;

Assigning Geographic Origins to Ceramics at CA-RIV-1950 by Gregory R. Seymour and Pamela Lawrence (N.D.).;

"Chemehuevi Notes," by Richard F. Van Valkenburgh. In Paiute Indians II: 227-253 (1976).

A Cultural Resources Overview of the Colorado Desert Planning Units, by Elizabeth von Till Warren, et al. (1981);

Cremations and Artifacts from the Campbell Collection, Joshua Tree National Monument by Claude N. Warren et al. (1992);

Phase II, An Archaeological Inventory of Joshua Tree National Park: Description and Analyses of the Results of a Stratified Random Sample Inventory Conducted 1991-1992. Unpublished draft, by Claude N. Warren and Joan S. Schneider (2001);

The Triple House Site, A Late Prehistoric Housepit Site Near The Cocomaricopa Trail, Joshua Tree National Park: Preliminary Report of Systematic Surface Mapping and Collection, by Claude N. Warren, and Joan S. Schneider (N.D.);

These reports of archaeological research show that archaeological findings have been consistent in general with ethnographic, ethnohistoric, and historic research findings on Native American association with the park lands. Although a document-by-document analysis of these reports is beyond the scope of the present study, we have added some data to this report as a result of reading them.

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Last Updated: 02-Aug-2004