The Kucadikadi

Published on January 20, 2013 by Amy

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By Lucy Telles
By Lucy Telles

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.

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Kucadikadi means “eaters of the brine fly pupae.” They are also known as the Kutsavidökadö, Koza’bittukut’teh, Kotsa’va, Mono Lake Paiute, Mono Basin Paiute, and Kuzedika. Lamb gives the Mono language name as kwicathyhka’, “larvae eaters”, or Mono Lake Paviotso. The term “Mono Lake Paiute,” a holdover from early anthropological literature, has proven problematic.

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 Mountains. 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, from which the band takes its name. Pinus monophylla or Piñon pine has been an importance source of food, as were jackrabbits, deer, mountain sheep, and the Coloradia pandora moth.

The extended family was the bands basic social units, which moved together as a group. They traded with Owens Valley Paiute 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 of houses of this type, called tomogani, were built by the band up to 1920.


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


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

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, 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 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.


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 and the Mono Lake Indian Community, headquartered in Lee Vining, California.

Source: wikipedia Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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