The Mojave Indians survived in their desert environment by learning everything they could about the plants and animals that surrounded them. They harvested various seeds and nuts from native plants for food and took advantage of branches, roots and bark to use for firewood and shelter, as well as for crafting a variety of tools. Rocks and stones also made excellent tool-making materials.
The Mojave Indians relied mostly on plants for their food needs, but did hunt game with bows and arrows. The wood for these hunting tools came from the Honey Mesquite trees. The arrowheads, crafted of stone, were glued to the shafts using resin from the pinyon pine. Nets and quail traps were made from fibers taken from the Joshua tree.
Similar to the mortar and pestle found in other California Indian tribes, the metate was a wide flat stone that was used to hold mesquite beans or pinyon pine nuts so that they could be pounded using a grinding stone. The grinding stone was usually a smooth, oblong-shaped rock that fit easily in one hand or two. The more a metate was used, the better tool it became. The action of the grinding stone on the metate's flat surface created a shallow hollow that held more beans or nuts. The mesquite beans were often made into small cakes and the pinyon nuts into a beverage.
The Mohave Indians were resourceful not only in finding food, but in using the plant life in the desert to fashion everyday objects. They would hollow out the core of barrel cacti and use the wide branches to cook or store food. Sandals were made from fibers taken from the Joshua tree. Juniper branches were often fashioned into “spirit sticks” used in ceremonies to protect food and water stores. Baskets, used as storage containers, were made from pine needles tied together using the shredded roots of the pinyon tree.
- stone mortar with red chillies image by javarman from Fotolia.com