Facts about the Maidu Native Indian
This article contains fast, fun facts and
interesting information about the Maidu Native
American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions
did the Maidu tribe live, what did they wear and
what food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Maidu tribe with facts about their wars and
What was the lifestyle and culture of the Maidu
The Maidu tribe inhabited Sierra Nevada and the
adjacent valleys of northern California. They
were neighbors to the Wintun tribe,
with whom they were frequently traded. The
opening of the Oregon and California trail
settlers, travelling in wagon trains, who
invaded their lands. The discovery of gold in
California increased the number strangers and gold
rush settlers inundated their homeland. The
were fierce defenders of their diminishing
territory but the numbers of
their people swiftly diminished as they
succumbed to European diseases such as malaria, smallpox,
measles and influenza. The white settlers
encroached their lands building using natural
resources to build fences and settlements. Oak
trees were cut down and acorns, a
staple element of their diet, became very
difficult to obtain as were roots, bulbs, fruits
and other nuts. Mining activities interfered
with the salmon runs. Wild game was depleted as
more people hunted for food. The lifestyle of
the Maidu was ruined and many suffered from
starvation. In 1863 the Maidu people were forced
onto the Round Valley Reservation.
What language did the Maidu tribe speak?
The Maidu tribe spoke in the Penutian language The
people were comprised of three groups. The
Northeastern or Mountain Maidu lived on the
upper North and middle forks of the Feather
River. The Northwestern or Konkow lived below
the high Sierra and in the Sacramento Valley.
The Southern Maidu or Nisenan occupied the
American, Bear, and Yuba Rivers.
Where did the Maidu tribe live?
The Maidu are people of the California Native
American cultural group. The location of their
tribal homelands are shown on the map. The
geography of the region in which they lived
dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Maidu
Location of the Maidu: Northeastern
California (Plumas County and southern
Land: Mountains, valleys rivers and lakes
Climate: Mild temperate climate
Natural Resources: Oak trees, acorns, buckeye
mushrooms, hazel nuts, bulbs, roots and grasses
Types of Maidu housing or shelters: Cedar
bark tepees and pit houses
Land animals: The animals included
deer, elk, chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels,
quail, mountain sheep and bear
Insects: Crickets, grasshoppers,
caterpillars and dried
locusts were all eaten to
supplement the diet
What did the Maidu tribe live in?
Tepees: During the summer the semi-nomadic
California Maidu tribe lived in temporary temporary
pointed, conical cedar bark shelters,
constructed using several poles tied together
that were covered with bark, sticks over the
Winter Pit Houses: The more
permanent winter homes of the Maidu consisted of
villages of semi-subterranean
winter homes that were built up to 15 feet into
The Californian pit house was constructed of
earth and brush sidewalls, wood end walls and a pitched
roof that was completely covered in earth. The Maidu winter houses had a central fire pit.
An opening in the roof allowed the smoke to
escape and also let light and air in. Entrance
was accessed via ladder on top of the roof.
What clothes did the Maidu men wear?
The clothes worn by the men of the Maidu tribe
varied according to the seasons and the weather. During the summer months the men
wore a breech cloth or simply went naked.
In the winter months warm clothing was
needed. Their clothes were made from the hides
of animals such as deer (buckskin), elk,
squirrel, rabbit and wildcats. The items of
Maidu clothing included warm fur robes and
wrap-around kilts, mitts and leggings
that were decorated with fringes. They wore
one-piece moccasins with a front seam whilst
hunting or traveling, but went barefoot
in the warm weather.
The Maidu Headdress
ceremonial crown-style headdress of the Maidu,
as seen in the above picture, consisted of a
flicker quill headband that covered the forehead
and was tied at the back. (The flicker bird is a
member of the woodpecker family). The Flicker
headbands were made from flicker the longest and
narrowest wing feathers. These dark pink or
yellow feathers were placed side by side and
sewn together to form a long headband. These
were bordered by dark brown feathers and
attached to the head with twined string. Feather
hair plumes were added as a separate form of
decoration to complete the headdress.
What clothes did the Maidu women wear?
type of clothes worn by the women of the Maidu tribe
included blouses and front and back aprons made
of shredded willow bark. Their dress fell to
calf length and were
belted, fringed. Special clothes were strung
with ornaments, tassels and porcupine quills.
Twined tule sandals or moccasins covered their
feet and in the winter they wore fur robes to keep
out the cold.
What food did the Maidu tribe eat?
A staple food of the Maidu were the acorns from
the oak trees that provided an abundance of
these nuts. The acorns were gathered from the Californian
white, black and tan oak trees and the
huckleberry oak and the bush chinquapin that
grow in the northeastern mountain region. The acorns which were
soaked in water or left until they turned black
in order to remove the taste of bitter tannic
acid. The acorns were then roasted and eaten
whole or ground into acorn meal which was used
to make bread. Salmon and trout were the main
types of fish eaten by the people and hunters
supplied meat from deer (venison) and small game
such as geese, duck, quail, rabbit and small rodents. Their
protein diet was supplements by eating fruits,
seeds, nuts, bulbs and roots. Insects such as
crickets, grasshoppers, caterpillars
and locusts were baked when fresh meat was
scarce. Manzanita berries were used to make a
type of cider and wild mint was used to make a
type of tea.
What weapons did the Maidu use?
The traditional weapons used by the Maidu tribe
included spears, stone ball clubs, knives and
bows and arrows.
What transportation did the Maidu use?
Maidu men made rafts and dugout canoes. They
made rafts by tying logs together with plant
fiber ropes and their canoes were made from
What was the religion and beliefs of the
religion and beliefs of the Maidu tribe was based
that encompassed the spiritual idea that all
natural objects including animals, plants, trees,
rivers, mountains and rocks have souls or