Ever seen a home made of tree bark? If you were an early Californian living high in the mountains, your home might have had walls of bark.
On the northern coast, you would have lived in a house made of wood planks. In the desert, your home may have been an open-sided shelter topped with brush or reeds. That’s because people built homes with whatever was easy to find and plentiful. For example, huge redwood trees grow along the foggy, rainy northern coast. That made timber easy to find. In the hot, dry desert, few trees grow.
Food was also easier to find on the coast or near rivers, where people could fish, hunt, and gather plants. Many tribes stayed in the same place because life was comfortable. One good place to live was the Santa Barbara coast. Some settlements there had up to 1,000 people. In the deserts and mountains, people lived in smaller groups and moved around more. Sometimes groups would come together for a while. They might gather for an antelope hunt or to harvest pine nuts.
Although most California tribes were hunters and gatherers, a few also farmed. One of those groups was the Yuma (Quechan) of the Colorado River valley. They grew corn, beans, melons, and other crops.