The Miwok tribe settled villages along the rivers and streams of the Sierra Nevada area as well as the western and southern areas of California's central valley. The Miwok people are categorized into four different ethnic groups based on geography and cultural diversities: the Plains and Sierra Miwok, Coast Miwok, Lake Miwok and Bay Miwok.
Miwok tribes lived in small communities without a formal political authority until the arrival of Europeans in 1769. They were hunter-gatherers, but they also domesticated dogs and grew tobacco. The Sierra Miwok tribes gathered acorns from the California black oak in the fall season. These were dried and stored in large granaries made from woven brush stems. Since acorns are bitter, the Miwok processed them into a fine meal to remove the bitter taste. The also harvested bulbs, seeds and fungi for food.
Miwok hunters used arrows, clubs and snares to kill and capture animals. Deer were a crucial animal resource, and all parts of the animal were used by the Miwok people. The meat provided food, while the hides were made into clothing, and the bones, antlers and hooves were crafted into tools. Grasshoppers and mussels were also prized food staples for tribes that lived near the Stanislaus river.