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


STEATITE

Steatite quarries were probably fairly common in Miwok territory, judging from the distribution of steatite, given in “Minerals of California.”80 There is a stratum of steatite (pukia, C) at the same level in both the south and north walls of the canyon of the north fork of the Tuolumne river. The latter deposit is about a mile from the outskirts of the town of Tuolumne and is cut by the old Duckwall road. A spring close by is called Indian spring by Americans, Kolakota by the Miwok. The soapstone quarry itself is called Lotowayaka. The quarry on the south side of the canyon is called Tile by the Miwok.

Cooking stones for use in baskets were often of steatite. Steatite vessels, about eight inches in diameter, were used to cook in, being put on the fire. They were also used as general receptacles. A poorly formed specimen is shown in plate XXXII, fig. 9. The Field Museum of Natural History possesses two bowls (70065, 70066) of red steatite, found in 1863 in an ancient cave near Tuolumne. The second was said to have been used latterly as a grizzly bear charm. A third Field Museum specimen is 70068 from the Southern Miwok at Ahwahnee.

Powdered steatite was used on babies to relieve chafing under the arms and between the legs. It was not used for adults.

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80Eakle, 217-219.



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