For Native peoples of California, the abalone found along the states coast has remarkably complex significance as food, spirit, narrative symbol, tradable commodity, and material with which to make adornment and sacred regalia
The large mollusk also represents contemporary struggles surrounding cultural identity and political sovereignty. Abalone Tales, a collaborative ethnography, presents different perspectives on the multifaceted material and symbolic relationships between abalone and the Ohlone, Pomo, Karuk, Hupa, and Wiyot peoples of California. The research agenda, analysis, and writing strategies were determined through collaborative relationships between the anthropologist Les W. Field and Native individuals and communities. Several of these individuals contributed written texts or oral stories for inclusion in the book. Tales about abalone and its historical and contemporary meanings are related by Field and his co-authors, who include the chair and other members of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, the chair of the Wiyot tribe and her sister, a Point Arena Pomo elder, several Hupa Indians, and a Karuk scholar, artist, and performer. Reflecting the divergent perspectives of various Native groups and people, the stories and analyses of them belie any presumption of a single, unified indigenous understanding of abalone. At the same time, they shed light on abalones role in cultural revitalization, struggles over territory, tribal appeals for federal recognition, and connections among Californias Native groups. While Californias abalone are in danger of extinction, their symbolic power appears to surpass even the environmental crises affecting the states vulnerable coastline.
^Les W. FieldAbalone Tales : Collaborative Explorations of Sovereignty and Identity in Native California by Les W. Field (2008, Paperback)ISBN 9780822342335 (revised Apr 2015)
^Abalone Tales: Collaborative Explorations Of Sovereignty And Identity In Native CaliforniaIndigo. ISBN 9780822342335 (revised Jun 2019)
^Les FieldAbalone Tales: Collaborative Explorations of Sovereignty and Identity in Native California (Narrating Native Histories), Duke University Press Books. Amazon. ISBN 9780822342335 (revised Feb 2015)