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Nellie Charlie.jpg
Nellie Charlie, a member of the Kucadikadi band, early 20th century
Regions with significant populations
United States United States (California California)
Northern Paiute language, English language
Traditional tribal religion, Shamanism
Related ethnic groups
other Northern Paiute people, Mono tribe (including Owens Valley Paiute),[1] Western Shoshone, Yokuts

The Kucadikadi are a band of Northern Paiute people who live near Mono Lake in Mono County, California. They are the southernmost band of Northern Paiute.[2][3]


Kucadikadi means "eaters of the brine fly pupae". They are also known as the Kutsavidökadö, Koza'bittukut'teh, Kotsa'va, Mono Lake Paiute,[4] Mono Basin Paiute,[3] and Kuzedika.[1] Lamb gives the Mono language name as kwicathyhka', "larvae eaters", or Mono Lake Paviotso.[5] The term "Mono Lake Paiute," a holdover from early anthropological literature, has proven problematic.[6]

Culture and geography

The Kucadikadi's homeland surrounds Mono Lake in eastern California, but they traditionally traveled to Walker Lake, Nevada for seasonal subsistence activities. Mono Lake is a high piedmont area of the Sierra Nevada. The average elevation of the Mono Lake basin is around 6,400 feet (2,000 m) above sea level. The surrounding mountains range from 9,000 to 13,000 ft (2,700 to 4,000 m) in elevation. Mono Lake is extremely saline and is home to several waterfowl species and the brine fly, or Ephydra hians or Hydropyrus hians,[3] from which the band takes its name.[2] Pinus monophylla or piñon pine has been an important source of food, as were jackrabbits, deer, mountain sheep, and the coloradia Pandora moth.[1]

The extended family formed the band's basic social units, which moved together as a group. They traded with Owens Valley Paiute[1] and Western Mono.

Three late 19th-century winter houses belonging to the tribe have been excavated by archaeologists. They are conical houses constructed with posts of Utah juniper or Juniperus osteosperma. Winter houses of this type, called tomogani, were built by the band up to 1920.[3]


The Kucadikadi speak the Northern Paiute language, which is in the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family.[7]


Fine coiled basket made by Carrie Bethel, 30" diameter basket, 1931–1935
Fine coiled basket made by Carrie Bethel, 30" diameter basket, 1931–1935

The band is well known for its basketry. They wove coiled baskets as well as twined baskets.[8] Bracken fern and redbud provide color for designs on coiled baskets.[9]

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, encroachment of non-Natives in their territory disrupted traditional hunting and gathering lifestyles, so members of the tribe relied on the tourist trade. Selling elaborate baskets to non-Indian tourists became a viable way of making a living.

Glass beads were introduced by non-Indians, and Kucadikadi women began incorporating the seed beads into their baskets by 1908.[9]


Many members of the Kucadikadi band are enrolled in federally recognized Paiute, Washoe, Yokuts, Miwok, and Western Mono tribes. Others are seeking recognition as the Sierra Southern Miwuk[10] and the Mono Lake Indian Community, headquartered in Lee Vining, California.[11]

Notable Kucadikadi

Lucy Telles in front of her tomogani  with her largest basket, Yosemite National Park, 1933
Lucy Telles in front of her tomogani with her largest basket, Yosemite National Park, 1933


  1. ^ a b c d Busby, Colin I., John M. Findlay, and James C. Bard. "A Culture Resource Overview of the Bureau of Land Management Coleville, Bodie, Benton, and Owens Valley Planning Units, California." Archived June 14, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Bureau of Land Management, California. (retrieved September 1, 2010)
  2. ^ a b Fowler and Liljeblad 437
  3. ^ a b c d Arkush, Brooke S. "Historic Northern Paiute Winter Houses in Mono Basin, California." Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology. 9 (2) 1987 (retrieved August 31, 2010)
  4. ^ Fowler and Liljeblad 464
  5. ^ Sydney M. Lamb. 1957. Mono Grammar. University of California. Berkeley PhD dissertation. pdf
  6. ^ Kelly and Fowler 394
  7. ^ Pritzker 224
  8. ^ Dalrymple 33
  9. ^ a b Dalrymple 35
  10. ^ "Brian Bibby, California Indian ethnologist, gets it right the first time about Yosemite Indians." Archived 2011-06-29 at the Wayback Machine Modesto Bee: The Hive. January 18, 2008 (retrieved August 31, 2010)
  11. ^ "California Indians and Their Reservations." Archived 2010-07-26 at the Wayback Machine SDSU Library and Information Access. retrieved September 1, 2010


  • Fowler, Catherine S. and Sven Liljeblad. "Northern Paiute". Handbook of North American Indians: Great Basin, Volume 11. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1986. ISBN 978-0-16-004581-3.
  • Kelly, Isabel T. and Catherine S. Fowler. "Southern Paiute". Handbook of North American Indians: Great Basin, Volume 11. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1986: 368-397. ISBN 978-0-16-004581-3.
  • Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1

External links

This page was last edited on 27 July 2020, at 14:19
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