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The Martis were a group of Native Americans who lived in Northern California on both the eastern and western sides of the Sierra Nevada during the period of 3,000 BC to 500 AD. Evidence of Martis habitation has been found from Carson River/Reno, Nevadamarker in the east to Auburn, Californiamarker and Oroville, Californiamarker in the west. The Martis name refers to the geographic region of Martis Creek which spans Nevada County, Californiamarker and Placer County, Californiamarker.

Martis travelled to higher elevations in the winter and lower elevations in the summer in loose-knit groups. They shared certain traits which included making stone tools from basalt, using pestals and mortars, and hunting with atlatls and spears. Martis engaged in a hunter-gatherer political economy.

Moratto states that the Martis were not related to the Washo, but may have been linked with the Maidu.

The Meadow Lake Petroglyphs, attributed to the Martis, are a national historical landmark. Another notable Martis archaeological site includes the Grouse Lakes Area of Nevada County, called the Martis Archaeological Complex, and cataloged as stye 7 rock art.


Further reading

  • Foster, D. G., Betts, J., & Sandelin, L. C. (1998). The association of Style 7 rock art and the Martis Complex in the northern Sierra Nevada of California. Sacramento: California Dept. of Forestry and Fire Protection. OCLC 42732872
  • Gortner, W. A., & Elsasser, A. B. (1986). The Martis Indians: ancient tribe of the Sierra Nevada. Woodside, Calif: Portola Press. ISBN 0936559012
  • Mires, P. B., Kautz, R., Botti, N., & Scott, E. (1992). Archaeological testing of nine locations along the Tahoe reach, Martis to Squaw Valley 120 kv transmission line project, Placer County, California. Nevada City, Calif: Forest Archaeologist, Tahoe National Forest. OCLC 44879837

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