More than a hundred tribes have called present-day California home. Perhaps due to California’s diversity in climates, there is also a wide diversity of cultures. Peoples in the valley and the foothills of the mountains grew crops but also burned grasslands to encourage growth of edible wild plants. On a region wide scale, the peoples of the area used controlled burns to shape their environment in a way that prevented larger fires and sustained an assortment of plant species. The Mewuk lived in what is now Northern California and primarily ate fish, acorn products, and venison. Village life centered around the ceremonial roundhouse, which was used for gatherings as well as religious purposes. The Chumash “bead maker” have lived in what is now the central and southern coastal regions of California for at least 13,000 years. There were once over 150 independent villages and there remain fourteen bands of Chumash Indians with the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Mission Indians receiving federal recognition.
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