Indians of California, Part 1 (1955)

An overview of Yokut culture and daily practices including weaving a tule mat dwelling and boat, weaving baskets, gathering berries and fishing, playing a hoop and pole game, etc.

Opening titles: “Indians of California, an Arthur Barr Production” over an illustration of a Yokut village (which band is not specified); a Yokut man in a loin cloth, seated on the ground outside a thatched dwelling chants and shakes two stick-like instruments, then a wider shot of a settlement with tule brush/thatched dwellings and people walking about, tending to a fire, etc., a man hunts fish with a harpoon on a rocky beach; closer using the harpoon to catch shellfish in a tide pool; a woman gathers red berries from a Manzanita tree into a long basket then transfers  them to a larger vessel; a man walks through a field carrying a cloth bundle on his back, he stops and adjusts; same man sitting with two others on a blanket as they look at what the other has to offer for trade: shells and obsidian pieces; they trade; temporary cedar or redwood bark conical-shaped dwellings (samish); man cutting down tall tule grass; two small boys carry a bundle of tule to a group of women in grass skirts weaving tule mats and building a structure; closer view of the tule weaver working; two women building an elongated, rounded-roof structure from willow poles; closer view of a woman’s hands tying a joint with strips of willow bark; wider shot of the weaver rolling up the mat, and then of the three women placing the mats on frame; women and children outside a completed hut, under a sun shade, tending to a fire pit; interior of the house where baskets hang on the walls and a woman fills a small one with grain (?) and hands it to a woman outside, she then moves a large bundle and places a rabbit-fur blanket over it; a woman picks up a baby wrapped in a hide blanket and ties him/her onto a cradleboard; she then opens the door and goes outside where she hangs it down her back from her forehead; she and another woman carrying a basket on her back by a water’s edge gathering stems of bunch grass; a few shots of her scraping the reeds smooth by running them through a split stick; she then sits on a mat and picks up a coil of the reeds for a basket already underway; closer shot of her sticking the reeds into the coil and pulling them tight; wider shot of the basket farther along, dipping reeds in a bowl of water; back to a closer shot of her finishing the basket, trimming the rim; shot of a woman sitting beside a mat dwelling holding the base of a basket she’s weaving where many fronds jet off from the base looking like a star burst and she twines around each strip at their center making the base; different view of same; later the basket is nearly full-sized and conical shaped with the big opening at the top; in front of a tule grass marsh two men gather and bind long tule bundles next to a long banana-shaped tule boat in-progress they’re building; closer shot of the men binding; back to wider show where the men carry over a bundle and tie it to the boat structure they’re building; the two take off in the water on the boat — one stands and pushes it with a long stick like a gondola, the other sits and does same; two men enter a pitch-roofed mud-thatched sweat house; inside we see one man attending to the fire pit and another shot of them rubbing thin, white stick-looking bones down their sweating arms, torsos, and legs; they then run out of the lodge into a stream; young people roll a woven willow bark hoop along the grassy ground while one tries to throw a pole through it while it is moving (pole and hoop game); close-up of the pole successfully landing through the hoop; a boy picks it up and they start again; various shots of them playing; back to the man from the beginning sitting and chanting while a boy in ceremonial headdress and carrying feathers walks back and forth in front of him. End titles: plastic letters spelling out “The End” in a flat basket.