While limited private ownership was practiced by all three of the tribes, most natural resources were communal property shared by the members of the tribe. And while certain individuals or families might improve their social standing through their learned craft, such as arrow or basket making, it was typically the community that acquired wealth based on access to desired natural resources. Obsidian is a good example of what I am talking about.
Obsidian, the natural volcanic glass that is common in our area, was once a prized commodity among Native communities. It was used to manufacture all kinds of cutting tools, knives, projectile points, scrapers, and drills. Obsidian is considered to be the sharpest natural material known. There are several obsidian sources in the North Coast Ranges, the largest of which are the ones known as Napa Valley, Annadel, Borax Lake, and Konocti. In Bennett Valley, we typically see obsidian from the Annadel and Napa Valley sources. The obsidian we find here was quarried at the source and brought to our area for the manufacture of stone tools. Much of what we see littering the surface of local archaeological sites is the debris that was left over from countless episodes of chipped-stone tool manufacture.
The Napa Valley obsidian source is located along the Silverado Trail near St. Helena in the Napa Valley. This source was controlled by the Wappo, and its proximity made the tribe very wealthy in aboriginal terms. Napa Valley obsidian was quarried for at least 12,000 years, beginning in the Paleoindian Period (c. 13,000 – 10,000 years ago), and it was traded widely throughout central California. The Annadel obsidian source is located within Annadel State Park, not far from Bennett Valley.