As part of building the world of Romancing Jan, we are dedicated to building a diverse world that never saw the colonialism our own world did. As part of this project, we have assembled a diverse writing team all across the world to help us build up our setting to show a new and different history.
Today we want to highlight a contribution made by one of our players: Caitlin Nortion! A new player in our game, Caitlin Norton designed an expanded history focusing on the Yuhaaviatam and their sister tribes (known as the Serrano People).
While we’re currently in the process of revamping our website (coming soon!), we hope to add it to our official timeline soon! In the meantime, enjoy this expansion on the Westlands!
The Yuhaaviatam People
1472 - The Algonquin base writing language spreads further west with travelers, reaching the very southwestern tip of the continent. However, instead of adopting this language, several tribes (including the Yuhaaviatam, the Taaqtam, and the Maarrênga’yam, which are all sister tribes) in the area create a joint language based on shared words and meanings. Other tribes in the southwest are doing the same but with their shared base, such as the Dine (Navajo), Pipa Aha Macav (the Mojave), and the Numa (Northern Paiute).
1483- Over the last decade, trade thrives within the southwest between the tribes and literacy has now completely taken over the Southern Westlands with proficiency. There are traveling Teachers who go between the tribes, sharing tools to learn their mother tongue and bringing back tools to learn new languages to their respective tribes. This fosters friendships otherwise unlikely.
1532- To further a sense of unity, the Yuhaaviatam and the sister tribes decide to host a summit for all those who wish to come. It will include taking turns showcasing the dances, songs, and traditions of each tribe in attendance. On the third day of the summit, leaders of each nation gather together to discuss grievances. If those grievances cannot be settled immediately, leaders can request a formal competition. Those involved in the situation participate and whoever wins gets resolve the situation on their terms.
This system works so well that this summit marks the first annual summit and the first year in a long era of peace. It also grows to include many neighboring tribes and sometimes is hosted by other nations.
1576- The mail system has spread across the entire continent by this time. However, along with that, the southwestern tribes have created another letter system based on the training of birds. Since many tribes already learned to decode how to use birds to locate animals and people who would otherwise remain hidden, these Bird Singers are trained in the handling of these various birds of prey. They have now set up posts along the west coast and are now trying to move east, inadvertently tying the entire continent together.
1624- The Yuhaaviatam has created its own city state, as many of the tribes in the west have done. This includes a tribal leader (elected) and a council of elders who help decide important decisions. They have grown from a hunter-gather society into one of rich trade. One of their main trades is acorn flour. It is a highly sustainable flour, more nutritious than the more common flour. Other western tribes have taken to trading this as well with eastern and northern tribes. They begin writing recipes and sharing them with every basket of flour. This spreads acorn bread across the western Westlands.
1665- With the introduction of horses to the southwest, trade has increased exponentially. Now these tribes are trading with the Tsalagi people with the acorn flour and cotton. The Yuhaaviatam and their sister tribes are at the forefront of this trade as their area is rich in Oak trees. In addition to their flour, they are spreading the knowledge of ritualistic burnings of the land.
Many tribes on the west coast have participated in such practices for some time. It allows the land to rejuvenate and prevents wildfires better than sheer diligence. By spreading this knowledge, the Yuhaaviatam hope to stop unnecessary death as well as combat some of the problems that come with so many people living off one land.
The tribe has also begun attempting to travel to other known lands besides the Westlands, in hopes to learn and foster peace.
1728- The Yuhaaviatam have now become a peaceful and reasonable voice to the western coast. They are known for their diplomacy as well as their openness to teach. Their basket weaving techniques have now extended to the weaving of bear grass, shell, and stone into jewelry and other trinkets. This has sparked a vigorous trade between the Dine and other silversmithing tribes.
1812- The Yuhaaviatam today:
Geography: The Yuhaaviatam and the sister tribes (what we know as the Serrano People) are around the San Bernardino Valley area and into the mountains.
Fashion: With the introduction of cotton, weavers have introduced robes and pants to the fashion; though it is common to go shirtless during the summer months as it can be far too warm for garments. The clothes worn are adorned with shells, braided bear grass, and beads. Jewelry is worn differently according to each person. Both men and women tend to wear their hair in braids or simply long. Shoes made of leather and other leather goods have made their way into fashion as well.
Gender: Men and women are equal. Although gender is recognized, any person is allowed to identify as they see fit. That could mean both genders, neither gender, or the opposite gender as to the one initially assigned.
Politics: The Yuhaaviatam is run by a tribal leader with a council of elders. They are elected by vote among the people of the city state. Elders are revered highly and their words are not taken lightly. They are consulted on many things, from minor to major.
Spiritual practices: They, like most tribes in the Westlands, believe in life being sacred. Their creation story is shared by their sister tribes. Their songs and dance center around a celebration of the Earth. They do, however, specialize in a specific kind of song called Bird Song. In addition to this, their funeral practices involve cremation. They also believe in the ritualistic burning of the land.
A special thanks again to Caitlin for sharing her vision of her tribe for our world!