Lands of the Yokuts and their Neighbors

Yokuts * Chumash * Kawaiisu * Tubatulabal * Monache

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Yokuts - Many different Yokuts tribes lived in the southern part of the Great Valley, from north of Fresno south to where Interstate 5 begins to climb out of the valley on the grapevine. The principle tribes in Kern County where the Yowlumne, who had a great many villages along the Kern River on the east side, the Tulumne and other small tribes living around Buena Vista Lake and along the tar pits on the west side of the Valley, and the Paleayani (Paelumne) who were closely aligned with the Yowlumne and lived north of them in the foothills along Poso Creek. Another tribe that deserves mention are the Yaudanchi who lived in the Porterville and Springville areas. Unlike most California Indians, who tended to live in loosely organized clans, the Yokuts had distinct tribes with chiefs and sub chiefs. The Yokuts are known in particular for their use of Tule Grass for clothing, boats, and dwellings.

for more info please see
Tulumne Yokuts of the McKittrick Tarpits

Yowlumne Yokuts of Bakersfield
Yokuts Indians of Sequoia National Park
Northern Valley & Foothill Yokuts (Handbook of North American Indians)
Map of Southern and Central Yokuts - Kroeber (1925, Plate 47)

Chumash - The Chumash were the Indians of the Transverse Ranges and Central California Coast. Loosely organized bands of Chumash bordered the Yowlumne in the San Emigdio Range to the south and the Cuyama Valley and Caliente Range to the southwest and west. The Chumash are known in particular for the painted pictographs they left behind in many sandstone caves and groups of bouldersof in the Topatopa and Santa Ynez Mountains (Los Padres National Forest).

The Chumash believed that their ancestors originated in the Channel Islands and crossed over to the mainland long ago on a bridge of rainbows. Some Chumash were unable to make the journey and fell into the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel, where they were transformed into Dolphins.

for more info please see
Chumash Indians of California

Chumash village map

color="#970000">- The Kawaiisu were actually several bands, not an organized tribe, who lived in the Tehachapi area and spoke a common language that linguists place in the Numic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The Kawaiisu and other Uto-Aztecan peoples along the crest and on the east side of the Sierra Nevadas are often called Paiutes. However, these different groups lived and traveled separate from one another, and often spoke languages unintelligible to each other. Kawaiisu is actually the name that the Yokuts of the Great Valley gave these people, as the Kawaiisu never had a name of their own. Sometimes they are referred to as the Tehachapi indians. However, Tehachapi is actually a Yokut word that Frank Latta tells us translates as "oak flat near a spring" which means it tells us where they lived, but not who they were. When asked to name themselves, a group of elderly Kawaiisu reportedly came up with "Nu-oo-ah", which translates as "people".

for more info click
Kawaiisu Indians of Tomo-Kahni State Park

Tubatulabal - Another collection of Uto-Aztecan bands that lived in the Kern River Valley around Kernville and Johsondale. Although the Kawaiisu, Monache and Tubatulabal all spoke Uto-Aztecan languages, that of the Tubatulabal was a separate language branch of its own, and very different from the Numic branch (Paiute peoples) that the Monache and Kawaiisu languages belonged to. The Yokuts referred to the Tubatulabal as the "Pitanisha", whereas the Tubatulabal, like most native peoples of the area, identified themselves by the food they ate. For example, the Monos of Mono Lake were the "fly eaters". In this context, Tubatulabal loosely translates as "pine-nut eaters", tubat being their word for piņon nuts.

for more info please see
Tubatulabal Indians of Johnsondale
Tubatulabal Indians of Sequoia National Park

Monache (Mono) - Although known to the Yokuts as the Monache or "fly eaters", the native people of the central Sierra and Owens Valley region called themselves Nyyhmy, which is their word for "people". Those of the Mono Lake area and Sequoia National Park are generally called the Western Mono, and their eastern brethren the Owens Valley Paiute. Again even though they spoke an Uto-Aztecan language, they probably would not have understood the speech of the Tubatulabal or Kawaiisu. The Monache of the Sequoia National Park region were known as the Patwisha (Balwisha), and they were neighbors of, and trading partners with the Wukchumni Yokuts.

for more info please see
Mono Indians of Sequoia National Park
Mono People (Wikipedia)
Monache (Handbook of North American Indians)

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Barras, Judy (1984) Their places shall know them no more (Judy and Bud Barras: Tehachapi), 91 p.

Kroeber, Alfred (1925) Handbook of the Indians of California (Smithsonian Institution: Washington D.C.), 995 p.

Latta, Frank F. (1977) Handbook of Yokuts Indians, 2nd Edition, Brewer's Historical Press and Coyote Press, 765 p.

Schiffman, Robert A. and Alan P. Garfinkel (1981) Prehistory of Kern County, an overview, Bakersfield College Publications in Archaeology, Number 1.

Spier, Robert F.G. (1978), "Northern Valley & Foothill Yokuts" in Handbook of North American Indians - California (Robert F. Heizer, ed.), Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., v. 8, p. 462-470 & 471-484.

Spier, Robert F.G. (1978), "Monache" in Handbook of North American Indians - California (Robert F. Heizer, ed.), Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., v. 8, p. 426-436.

Steward, Julian H. (1935) Indian Tribes of Sequoia National Park, U.S. Dept. of the Interior, National Park Service.


From Kroeber (1925), Plate 47

From Kroeber (1925), Plate 47



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