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Miwok Material Culture: Indian Life of the Yosemite Region (1933) by S. A. Barrett and E. W. Gifford


FIRE

The fire drill (sosa'nna, P, N; kaia'nna, C, S) consisted of a “hearth” or block, and a rod of well seasoned buckeye wood.67 Among the Central Miwok of the hills the drill was called kayana, the hearth siwŁ, and the act of drilling fire, kayana. The drill was rotated between the hands. A hearth and drill are shown in plate LI, fig. 1. The fine, heated dust resulting from the drilling, ran down a small slot on the side of the hearth and collected upon some tinder, tceke (S), which was usually rotten buckeye wood, dry pine needles, shredded cedar bark, or finely shredded grass. Among the Central Miwok of the mountains dry white punk (yeska) from rotten hollow trees was preferred as tinder. In the course of a minute the accumulated heat produced a glowing coal in the dust. This was fanned into flames in the tinder by gentle blowing.

Fire was obtained also by percussion (hulu, C) at least among the Central Miwok. Two sorts of stone, called sitikwina (C) and kolubu (C), were struck together, the sparks being caught on white punk. Sitikwina would seem to be a flint, for it is also used on arrows. Kolubu is perhaps iron pyrites.

Fire wood was obtained from fallen timber when possible. Sometimes a dead tree was felled by burning. The wood was carried either in a bundle tied with a rope or by means of the burden basket.

Haku (C) was a torch of dry pine needles tightly bound with a split withe or twig to a stick. It burned fifteen or twenty minutes, when a fresh bundle of pine needles was attached to the stick. The torch was used especially for night travel.

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67One informant stated that the base block was made of cedar while the vertical stick was of elderberry. The Field Museum of Natural History has a Central Miwok specimen (70141) in which both are of cedar (Libocedrus decurrens),



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