What were Wintu weapons and tools like in the past? Wintu hunters used bows and arrows. Wintu fishermen used nets and basket fish traps. The Wintu didn’t go to war very often, and when they did, they usually shot arrows at their opponents instead of fighting them hand-to-hand.
The Wintu gathered acorns from trees such as the California live oak (also known as coastal live oak) and black oak. Acorns formed the basis of the Wintu diet, as they were ground into flour and then used to make soups and breads. In addition to acorns, the Wintu fished for several species of fish.
Various groups of Wintu also traded with each other, as their resources differed depending on where they lived. Things considered valuable by the Wintu included bows and arrows; elkskin armor; bear, deer, elk, and otter skins; woodpecker scalps; obsidian knives and spears with obsidian tips.
Wintu is a Penutian language of California. Originally there were at least two other dialects of this language, known as Nomlaki (or Nomalaki) and Patwin, but today only the Wintu dialect is still spoken, and by only a few elders.
Historically, the Wintu lived primarily on the western side of the northern part of the Sacramento Valley, from the Sacramento River to the Coast Range.
Wintu men hunted deer, rabbits, and small game, and caught fish in the rivers and lakes. Wintu women ground acorns into meal, as well as gathering berries, nuts, and other plants. Here is a website with more information about Native American foods.
They are not a federally recognized tribe, although they are working toward federal recognition. Some Winnemem Wintu feel that it is by government error rather than termination that the Bureau of Indian Affairs does not recognize them.
The Patwin ate fish from the river, and deer and other animals from the hills. On the Sacramento River, they built fish weirs (dams) of posts and willow sticks stuck into the river bottom. Salmon and sturgeon were caught in this way. Smaller fish such as perch, pike, and trout were caught in nets.
Deerskin was the material most often used for clothing by the Nomlaki. The men wore a piece of deerskin covering their hips. Women wore skirts made of deerskin, decorated with seeds and shells. When deerskin wasn’t available, clothing was made from the inner bark of trees, which was soft and pliable.
The Hill Patwin traded shells, skins, red woodpecker scalp belts, flicker quill bands, and dried salmon, among other valued items, with the neighboring Wappo, Pomo, and Lake Miwok, whose lands to the north and west included the headwaters of Putah Creek, and with the River Patwin, Maidu, and Eastern Miwok to the south
Patwin (Patween) is a critically endangered Wintuan language of Northern California. As of 2003, there was “at least one first language speaker of Patwin.” As of 2010, Patwin language classes were taught at the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation (formerly Rumsey Rancheria) tribal school (Dubin 2010).
Today the tribe’s population is approximately 150. Archeological and ethnographic studies indicate that we have lived in the McCloud River area of northern California for at least 6,000 years, but our traditional knowledge and stories provide evidence we have been here for far longer.
The Redding Rancheria is a federal reservation in Shasta County, northern California. They are a leader in the development of their people in their traditional homelands. The Bureau of Indian Affairs purchased the land that is now considered the Redding Rancheria in 1922.
Between 1830 and 1833, many Wintu died from a malaria epidemic that killed an estimated 75% of the indigenous population in the upper and central Sacramento Valley.