The Uto-Aztecan language is younger than Hokan or Penutian. Research indicates that Uto-Azetcan began to diversify in California after Hokan and Penutian were present, but before all of the Penutian languages achieved their later prehistoric distribution. Uto-Azetecans first entered California earlier than circa 2000 BC.   (Moratto, California Archaeology *)

Cahuill (Cahuilla)

Native Location:  Headwaters of San Luis Rey and Santa Margarita Rivers; San Gorgonio Pass and San Jacinto Mountain; and northwestern portion of the Salton Sink.

Language:  Shoshonean

Identified Shelters:  Rectangular floor structures with flat roofs made of mesquite posts and beams, and wormwood shoots, mesquite bark, leaves, and earth for the roof

Cultural Notes:  They once numbered as many as 10,000 in the 17th century.

Tribal History:

Tribal Website:
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians


Native Location:   Southeastern California on the Arizona border and the Colorado River, from Death Valley to the Maria Mountains

Language:  Paiute

Identified Shelters:   Dome-shaped structures made of sapling poles joined at the center, and thatched with brush

Food:   Corn, beans, pumpkin and melon; mountain sheep, deer, rabbit

Cultural Notes:   They were once nomadic; they fought and intermarried with their nearest neighbors, the Mohave.

Tribal History:

Cupeño/ Kuupangaxwichem
("people who slept here")

Native Location: Southern California - 50 miles inland and 50 miles north of the Mexican border, mountainous area at the headwaters of the San Luis Rey River.

Food:   Acorn, pine nuts, berries, deer, fish, small game

Language:  Southern Takic, closely related to the Cahuillan language

Cultural Notes:   Less than nine speakers of the original language are left, and they are all more than 50 years old.

Tribal History:

Tribal Website: 
Pala Band of Mission Indians

Gabrielino/Tongva (Kizh, also known as Gabrieleño)

Native Location:  Southern California, Los Angeles and Orange County areas

Language:   Takic

Identified Shelters:   Large, multi-family structures covered with tule

Food:   Acorn, pine nuts, berries, deer, fish, small game

Tribal History:

Tribal Websites:  
Gabrielino-Tongva Tribe Los Angeles Basin
San Gabriel Band of Mission Indians      
Gabrieleño Indians                                      

Kawaiisu (Kawaisu)

The Kawaiisu are unique amongst indigenous people because they have no migration story. From an anthropological standpoint, this means that they have always lived in the same place. Even some of the most studied of the ancient civilizations in the America’s, for example the Aztec, have a migration story that was passed down to each generation thru oral history. This lack of a migration story explains why the Kawaiisu territorial pictographs are often pre-dated by adjacent petroglyphs and geoglyphs. The combination of Kawaiisu pictographs and petroglyphs verify that they has lived in this region since time immemorial.


Tribal Website:
    Tejon Reservation

Juaneno (Acjachemem)

Native Location:
  The areas now known as Orange County (including parts of Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego Counties) in the State of California, were the ancestral tribal lands of the Acjachemem people.

Idenfified Shelters:  Lived in wic-ki-ups, conical shaped structures of willow and tule.

Food:  They gathered acorn and vegetables, hunted deer and rabbit, and fished for lobster and abalone.

Cultural Notes:  To insure their legacy, the Acjachemem maintained intricate village communities where tribal ceremonies, elder councils and strict tribal laws assured the physical, cultural and spiritual well-being of the Nation. Under the rule of the San Juan Capistrano Mission, the Acjachemem were called "Juaneños."

Tribal History:

Tribal Websites:
Juaneno Band of Mission Indians
Juaneno Indians                          


Native Location:  50 miles along the California coast from south Los Angeles County to north San Diego County, and inland 30 miles

Language:   Luiseño

Identifed Shelters:   Cone-shaped structures thatched with reeds, brush, or bark

Food:   Acorn, sunflower seeds, pine nuts, berries, deer, fish, waterfowl, small game

Cultural Notes:    Also known as the Luiseño Band of Mission Indians, they can be found today in La Jolla, Pala, Pechanga, Pauma, Rincon, Soboba, and Twentynine Palms tribes.

Tribal History:

Tribal Websites:
La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians                
Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians            
Soboda Band of Luiseno Indians                
San Manuel Band of Luiseno Mission Indians


Native Location:   Mojave Desert and the San Bernardino Mountains in Southern California

Food:    Acorn, Manzanita berries, pine nuts, yucca, deer, rabbit

Language:  Takic branch of Uto-Aztecan

Cultural Notes:  They were once sedentary hunter-gatherers.  Serrano is Spanish for "mountaineer", but they called themselves Yuharetum, which means "people of the pines."

Tribal History:

Tribal Websites: 
San Manuel of Mission Indians

Paiute (Northern Paiute)(Mono Paiute/ Kutzadikaa) (Owens Paiute)

Native Location:   Northern and Owens Valley Paiute lived along the eastern slope of the Sierra Nevada mountains from Oregon to Owens Valley; Southern Paiutes lived along southeastern California

Language:   Northern Paiutes spoke a Shoshonean dialect; Southern Paiutes spoke Numic

Identified Shelters:   Small, circular structures covered with tule rushes

Food:  Corn, squash, pumpkin, melon, beans, sunflowers, blueberries, elderberries, currants, wild strawberries, deer, antelope, bighorn sheep, small game.

Cultural Notes:   The origin of the word Mono (pronounced “mo-no,” unlike “ma-no,” the Greek word for one) is uncertain.  Like so many Native American words in common use today its meaning is not well documented.  The most accepted theory is that Mono is a Yokut word for “fly eater.” The Yokut people were native to the western Sierra Nevada slopes above present-day Fresno, some 200 miles from the Mono Basin. How did the word Mono travel to this region? Perhaps the word was first used to describe the Southern Paiute in the Owens Valley who also harvested alkali fly pupae. The Kutzadika’a people do not have Mono in their language and history does not offer a clear explanation of its origin.

Tribal History:

Tribal Websites: 
Cedarville Rancheria     
Susanville Indian Rancheria


Native Location:  Death Valley National Park contains approximately 80 percent of the Shoshone's known traditional, cultural, and sacred sites

Language: Shoshone

Identified Shelter:   Semi-subterranean, cone-shaped structures with a connecting pole framework, covered with pine needles

Food:   Pine nuts, Mesquite beans, elk, buffalo, bighorn sheep

Cultural Notes: They were once hunter-gatherers.

Tribal History:

Tribal Websites:
Timbisha Shoshone Tribe
Timbisha Tribe of Inyo County
Western Shoshone         


Native Location: Southern Sierra Nevada Mountains, Southern Mt Whitney, Kern River Valley, Greenhorn mountains, Kern River Canyon, Canebrake, and Walker pass.

Language: Pakanapul (paka-anil dialect)

Indentified Shelters: Tule house, juniper wood shelter structures, circled rock housing foundation, and arbor with bull-pine or juniper wood.   Sweat Lodge – willow, pine wood, and mud.  Today, the Tubatulabals have 10 Tribal allotments (160 acres each) in Kern River Valley and Piute Mountain areas.

Food: Acorn, pine nuts, deer, fish, salt grass, gooseberries, seeds, mushrooms, water crest, tule, rabbit, and quail.

Cultural Notes: They continue to gather acorns, salt grass, and pine nuts and hunt deer, rabbit, and quail.  Bear Dance ceremony held on last weekend of April on Tribal Allotment - WhiteBlanket.  Annual 1863 Massacre Memorial held in mid-April each year - near Tillie Creek Campground (west side of Lake Isabella).

Tribal Website:


Native Location:
  The Tataviam region stretches from the San Fernando Valley and Santa Clartia Valley to the Antelope Valley and can be traced as far back as 450 A.D. At that time the Tataviam people migrated from the north and settled in villages throughout the area. The villages were constructed on the south-facing sides of hills and mountains because they received the most sun light.

Cultural Notes: The word Tataviam means "people facing the sun" and decribes the Tataviam's villages.

Tribal Website:
Fernandeno Tataviam Band of MIssion Indians


Cultural Notes:
This tribe's lifestyles parrelled the Gabrielino/Tongva.

Western Mono/Monache

Native Location:
  South-central Sierra Nevada foothills

Language:   Shoshone

Indentified Shelters:  Semi-subterranean, cone-shaped structures with a connecting pole framework, covered with pine needles

Food:   Acorn, pine nuts, deer, fish, manzanita berries, gooseberries, seeds, mushrooms

Information WebsiteCentral Sierra Historical Society and Museum Website

Other Uto-Aztecan Tribes:  Kitanemuk -Koso

* Moratto, Michael, California Archaeology, Academic Press, Inc., 1984