Maidu

From Academic Kids

The Maidu are a group of Native Americans who lived in Northern California. They lived in the central Sierra Nevada, in the drainage area of the Feather and American Rivers.

The term Maidu means person.

The Maidu were hunters and gatherers. They lived in small villages with no centralized political organization.

Their mythology revolved around stories of the trickster Coyote. Maidu Coyote tales are exceptionally funny and very bawdy.

The Maidu were divided into three groups, the Nisenan or Southern Maidu, the Northeastern or Mountain Maidu, and the Northwestern Maidu, or Konkow.

The Southern Maidu occupied the whole of the American, Bear and Yuba river drainages.

The Northeastern Maidu lived on the upper North and Middle forks of the Feather River.

The Northwestern Maidu were below the high Sierra, in the South, Middle, North and West branches of the Feather River, on the Upper Butte and Chico Creeks, and in the Sacremento Valley along the lower course of those streams.

Kroeber estimated that there were 9,000 Maidu about the year 1770. The Census of 1910 counted 1,100, and the 1930 Census only 93.

Languages

The Maidu spoke one of four different Maiduan languages.

  • Maidu (a.k.a. Northeastern Maidu, Mountian Maidu)
  • Chico (a.k.a. Valley Maidu)
  • Konkow (a.k.a. Northwestern Maidu)
  • Nisenan (a.k.a. Southern Maidu)

The languages have similar phonologies (i.e. sound systems) but differ significantly in terms of grammar. They are not mutually intelligible. The Chico dialects are little known due to scanty documentation, so their precise genetic relationship to the other languages probably cannot be determined (Mithun:1999).

Chico is now extinct. The other languages are extremely endangered nearing extinction: Northeastern Maidu has 1 or 2 speakers, Konkow has 3-6 speakers, Nisenan has only 1 speaker (Hinton:1994, reported in Gordon:2005).

Template:Na-lang-stub

External links

Bibliography

  • Kroeber, Alfred L. (1925). Handbook of the Indians of California. (Reprinted 1953, 1970, 1976).
  • Heizer, Robert F. (1966). Languages, territories, and names of California Indian tribes.
  • Mithun, Marianne. (1999). The languages of Native North America. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-23228-7 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-29875-X.
  • Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (Ed.). (2005). Ethnologue: Languages of the world (15th ed.). Dallas, TX: SIL International. ISBN 1-55671-159-X. (Online version: http://www.ethnologue.com).
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