Mechoopda oral literature is replete with myths recounting the origin of nearly every aspect of life in the world, including the establishment of culture. The creation of the first man and women, the gift of the first food (acorn), and even the occurrence of the first death, provided orientation for navigating the endless pitfalls life in this world entails. Standing like ideological bookends, Kodoyampeh (Earth Maker) and Coyote expressed the dichotomous and often conflicting nature of life, their exploits recited in endless episodes of myth.
After the creation of people, Kodoyampeh had established the four great feasts, or Weda, to be held at each season. The weda expressed a sense of reciprocity, an appreciation for the abundance of seasonal foods, and acknowledged Kodoyampeh as creator of these life-sustaining gifts. Another feature of Mechoopda religious life was a series of ceremonial dances that began in the early fall and continued until late spring. The cycle of dances reflected a broad variety of values and concepts. Whether considered a largely social gathering, a ceremony of deep spiritual content, or the fusion of both, the monthly parade of ceremonies provided a sense of order that coincided with the progression of the year, and came into accord with the great culture shaping events of the legendary past.
An important annual observance was the memorial "burning" of offerings for the dead. Held in the late summer before the dance cycle began, people gathered on the ceremonial burning grounds to mourn and remember those who had passed during the previous year. Significant amounts of personal property, attached to several tall poles, were destroyed or given away in honor of the deceased, often reflecting the wealth and status of the individual and their family. The soul of the dead traveled to a particular cave in the Sutter Buttes where it was washed by spirits before ascending to Hipinigkoyo, the Above Meadow.
The ancestral village of Mechoopda averaged about 20 homes (150-175 people), and a large ceremonial roundhouse. Dwellings were primarily round, earth-covered structures, and averaging 20 feet in diameter, excavated to about three feet in depth. Entry was through a central opening in the roof, via a ladder. Additional features of the village would have included numerous granaries for the storage of foods such as acorns, brush covered armadas to provide shade for working outdoors in summer, and at least one menstrual house.
Mechoopda women, like native women throughout most of North America, retreated to a specific dwelling set somewhat apart from the main cluster of houses during their monthly menstrual cycle. The onset of menses also marked the arrival of puberty in young women, and was cause for a significant ceremonial observance, the Yupukato, in which she danced.
Mechoopda was largely an autonomous community which likely had its alliances with other nearby villages based on trade, marriage, extended family ties, or other factors. A large village like Mechoopda typically recognized a headman, a Hukbe, whose opinion and direction was generally respected. While providing leadership, the Hukbe lacked the absolute power to rule. His position was often hereditary.
An organization of central importance and social significance among the Mechoopda was the Kumeh, the men's sacred dance society. Initiation into the Kumeh was thought to be essential for any young man, as a full-fledged member of village society. It was the responsibility of the Kumeh to pass on the religious history of its organization, and all the knowledge necessary to maintain the ceremonial life of the tribe, as well as performance of the ceremonials. As with the girl's puberty observance, initiation into the Kumeh symbolized the transformation of child to adult, and usually included receipt of an adult name, as well as a ritual name known only to other members of the Kumeh.
The people of Mechoopda survived based on strategies, technologies, and knowledge associated with a "hunting and gathering" economy. The environment within the range of Mechoopda was relatively rich in food resources. Large mammals such as elk, antelope and deer were brought down with bow and arrows, while groups of rabbits were herded into long stretches of netting. Among the most abundant animal resources were waterfowl and salmon, each appearing in staggering numbers. Salmon was generally dried, and sometimes pounded into a fine powder, bone and all, for prolonged storage.
However, the staple and trademark of Mechoopda life was its exploitation of acorns. An abundant annual crop of acorns might provide enough food for an entire year, and due to its hard shell, could often be stored for up to two years in time. In addition, a variety of grass seeds, greens, bulbs, and corns were harvested in season. The variety of the Mechoopda diet was impressive, and protected them from single crop failures, which plagued some agricultural societies who became overly dependent on one or two foods (i.e. the potato famine).
The necessary tools of a hunting and gathering society also became their greatest art, all of the native people of California excelled in the textile art of basketry. The strength, durability, and effectiveness of basketry among native Californians were indeed a significant factor in people's survival. Mechoopda basketry traditions included both coiling and twining techniques. Baskets were made for collecting grass seeds, winnowing, sifting acorn flour, and cooking acorn soup, storage, transporting burdens, and carrying infants. Many were watertight. Local plants, such as the roots of sedge grass and briar, and the shoots of redbud provided weaving material. Beyond their function, baskets also provided a public forum for individual artistic expression, identity, and recognition. The finished basket said something about who you were, as a weaver, and a person.