Facts about the Yana Native Indian
This article contains fast, fun facts and
interesting information about the Yana Native
American Indian tribe. Find answers to questions
did the Yana tribe live, what did they wear and what
food did they eat? Discover what happened to the Yana tribe with facts about their history.
What was the lifestyle and culture of the Yana
The Yana were an independent and reclusive
people. They neighbors were the Wintun tribe
with whom they were frequently at war. With the
opening of the Oregon and California trail white
settlers, travelling in wagon trains, began to
invade their lands. The discovery of gold in
California swelled the number strangers as gold
rush settlers flocked to the region. The Yana
were fierce defenders of their diminishing
territory of mountain canyons but the numbers of
their people swiftly diminished as they
succumbed to European diseases such as smallpox,
measles and influenza. As the white settlers
continued to encroach on their lands acorns, a
staple element of their diet, became very
difficult to obtain because the oak trees were
being cut down to create white settlements. The
last known member of the Yana tribe was called
Ishi, who died in 1916 when the Yana people
What language did the Yana tribe speak?
The Yana tribe spoke in their own language,
which is now extinct. It is classified as a
branch of the Hokan language family. The Yana-speaking
people comprised four groups: the Northern Yana,
the Central Yana, the Southern Yana, and the
Where did the Yana tribe live?
The Yana 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 Yana
Location: The Yana tribe inhabited regions
between the Feather and Pit rivers in what
is now the Shasta and Tehama counties in
Land: Forests, mountains, canyons, rivers and lakes,
Climate: Temperate climate but hot in the
Natural Resources: Oak trees, acorns, buckeye
mushrooms, hazel nuts, bulbs, roots and grasses
Types of housing or shelters: Wickiups and pit houses
Land animals: The animals included
deer, rabbits, squirrels,
quail, mountain sheep and bear
Fish: Salmon, trout, mussels
Insects: Crickets, grasshoppers,
caterpillars and dried
locusts were all eaten to
supplement the diet
What did the Yana tribe live in?
Northern and Central Yana groups lived in
earth-covered houses that provided shelter
for several families. The Southern Yahi
groups preferred smaller, pointed, conical cedar
bark-covered shelters refer to
Cedar Bark Tepee. Use
was also made of the caves in the area.
California Pit Houses
California Pit Houses: The more permanent winter
homes of the Northern and central groups of the Yana consisted of semi-subterranean
winter pit houses that were set about three feet
into the ground and built with a frame of poles
covered by reeds, bark and sod (turf). The pit houses
had a central fire pit with an opening in the
roof allowing smoke to escape and to let light
and air in.
What food did the Yana tribe eat?
The food that the Yana tribe ate included a
variety of different food but the staple part of
their diet were the acorns from the Californian
black, white and tan oak trees that provided an
abundance of these nuts. The acorns which were
leeched 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 river mussels were
available to the northern Yana bands. The tribe
used rafts and dugout canoes for fishing. Hunters
supplied meat from deer (venison) and small game
such as quail, rabbit and small rodents. Their
protein diet was supplements by eating fruits,
seeds, nuts, bulbs and roots. Insects such as
crickets, earthworms, grasshoppers, caterpillars
and locusts were baked when fresh meat was
What weapons did the Yana use?
The weapons used by the Yana tribe included
spears, stone ball clubs, knives and the bow and
What clothes did the Yana men wear?
The clothes worn by the men of the Yana tribe
varied according to the season. During the hot
summer months the men were happy to hunt naked.
In the colder winter months warm clothing was
required. Their clothes were made from the hides
of animals such as deer (buckskin), elk,
squirrel, rabbit and wildcats. The items of
clothing included warm fur robes, shirts,
wrap-around kilts or aprons, mitts and leggings
that were decorated with fringes. They wore
one-piece moccasins with a front seam whilst
hunting or traveling, but usually went barefoot
in the warm weather.
What clothes did the Yana women wear?
type of clothes worn by the women of the Yana tribe
included blouses and front and back aprons made
of shredded willow bark. Their clothes fell to
calf length between the ankle and knee, were
belted, fringed and special clothes were strung
with ornaments, tassels and porcupine quills.
Twined tule sandals or moccasins covered their
feet and they winter they wore fur robes to keep
out the cold.
Both the men and women wore ornaments,
especially necklaces, made from beads, shells,
bird claws, bear claws and elk teeth. The people
did not wear tattoos but grease was mixed
with black charcoal, white chalk powder, red and
yellow dyes to make face and body paint. Both
the men and women had nose and ear piercings.
Yana Jewelry: Magnesite Beads
Necklaces and earrings also made were made from
magnesite, a stone found in northern California.
When fired, these turn beautiful banded shades
of pink, orange, buff stones that were finely
polished and used as beads. The Magnesite beads
were highly valued and were traded as single
pieces, or combined with shells on a string.
Magnesite beads, dentalium (tube-shaped mollusk
shells) and clamshell beads were all used as
money by the Yana.