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California Native Tribes  

California Native Tribes
Last Updated: Jun 10, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS UpdatesEmail Alerts

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Approx. 10,000 Years Ago:  Paleo-Indians arrive in Southwest United States from Asia via Bering Strait Bridge.

1542 Juan Cabrillo explored the California coast.

1769 Father Serra founds the first Californian mission in San Diego. There were about 310,000 Native Americans in California.

1820 Mexico declared independence from Spain and California became a territory of Mexico.

1834 Mexico secularized and/or dismantled the missions. The Native Americans were dispersed to urban areas where they were cheap labor or worked on the ranchos.

1846 The United States declared war on Mexico. Often known as the Mexican-American War.

1848 The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, making California an American territory.

1849 The Gold Rush begins. Native Americans were treated as hostiles by the Forty-niners and actively mistreated and killed.

1850 California became a state.

1850 Californian state legislature passed an act to allow indenturing of the Native Americans.

1852 The Californian Indian Service was established to start the reservation system. Several tribes such as the Hupa and Modocs resisted and fought to keep their land with varying amount of success.

1870's Ghost Dance religious movement attracts many Native Americans.

1880's Boarding schools established. Native Americans saw this as an attack on their language and society.

1900 There were around 20,000 Native Americans left, a 90% drop from when the missionaries arrived.

1924 All Native Americans born in the United States were granted citizenship.

1964 The American Indian Historical Society was started. They advocated better conditions and tried to change textbooks in California to give a clearer and less distorted account of their Native American history.

1969 The Indians of All Tribes occupied Alcatraz Island for two years to protest Native American treatment.

Information is from The First Americans: California Indians by C.L. Keyworth, c1991.



    General Information on Native American Tribes of California

     A short general introduction to the California Native American Tribes. Designed for teachers and students as a guide to some of the most used sources available from San Diego Public Library. This project is partially funded by a Library Services and Technology Act Grant.

                                      Picture courtesy of Barona Cultural Center and Museum

    Research resources



    • California Native American Tribes Series - Mary Null Boule  
      Call Number: J979.4/BOULE
      Written about grade 4-5 level. This series features all the Native American tribes in California, in small pamphlet-type format. Each tribe is a separate pamphlet, written just for students.
    • First Americans Series - Various  
      Call Number: J979.40049 or J973.04975
      About grade 3-4 level. A good basic description of the various tribes, and also has some arts and crafts projects.
    • The Library of Native Americans - Williams, Jack  
      Written about grade 5 level. Examines individual tribes: their origin, archeological and legendary; food, clothing, and some arts and crafts and trade as well as government, warfare, language and religion. A history is given, including current lives.
    • Lifeways - Bial, Raymond  
      Written about a grade 5-6 level. History, culture and everyday life of the tribe. Includes a timeline and information about famous representatives of the tribe.
    • Native Americans series - Gray-Kanatiiosh, Barbara  
      Call Number: J979.40049/GRAY
      Written by a Native American at about the grade 4 level. It concentrates on their daily life, clothing, home, society, food, crafts as well as including one myth.
    • Native Peoples - Various  
      Written about a grade 3-4 reading level. Includes a map locating the tribe, Fast Facts, history, a famous representative of the tribe, a legend, religion, clothing, etc. Includes a step by step art project for the kids to do. There are also addresses, both on and off-line.
    • Tribes of Native America - Ryan, Marla Felkins  
      Written about a late grade 4-5 level. Covers basic facts, called First Look, history, daily life, customs and notable people. Also includes a timeline. Sometimes a legend is included.

    Short selection of introductory books on Native American Tribes

    Cover Art
    Atlas of Indians of North America - Legay, Gilbert
    Call Number: J 970.00497/LEGAY
    ISBN: 0812065158
    Profiles, drawings and photographs of 206 North American Tribes, includes customs, dress, crafts and histories of the tribes.

    Cover Art
    California Indians - Doherty, Craig A.
    Call Number: TO BE FILLED IN
    ISBN: 9780816059737
    Details the history and culture of the Native Americans of California, providing numerous box features and sidebars that highlight important people, events, and topics.

    Cover Art
    Enduring Wisdom - Virginia Driving Hawk Sneve; Synthia Saint James (Illustrator)
    Call Number: J 970.00497/ENDURING
    ISBN: 0823414558
    Publication Date: 2003-03-15
    A selection of sayings, from long ago to the present day.

    Ishi : the last of his people - Petersen, David
    Call Number: J B/ISHI
    ISBN: 0516041797
    A picture book biography of Ishi, written for children. Recounts the life of Ishi, sole survivor of a small band of Yahi Indians, who was found in 1911 near Oroville, California.

    Missions of California : a legacy of genocide - Costo, Rupert
    Call Number: 266.2794/MISSIONS
    ISBN: 0913436026
    Adult title, not meant for children. For two hundred years the native people of California have borne the stigma of "Mission Indians." The names of their nations and tribes are Hupa, Kumeyaay, Chuilla, Pauma, Malki, Cupa and Pamo to name a few...(REVIEW by

    Cover Art
    Native Americans - Thomas, David Hurst and Lorann Pendleton
    Call Number: J 970.00497/NATIVE
    ISBN: 0783547595
    Publication Date: c1995
    This book covers Native Americans, concentrating on the culture. The editors lump Indian cultures together and, by doing so, is able to make comparisons of many cultures. The Chumash, Hupa and Patwin tribes are mentioned in this book

    Cover Art
    PAGANS PROMISED LAND: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery - Newcomb, Steven T.
    Call Number: 346.73043/NEWCOMB
    ISBN: 9781555916428
    Adult title, not meant for children. Using history and cognitive theory, Steven Newcomb demonstrates how U.S. government officials have used religious concepts of Christendom, often unconsciously, to justify the taking of Native American lands and to deny the original independence of Indian nations.

    Whispers from the First Californians - Faber, Gail and Michelle Lasagna
    Call Number: J979.4/FABER
    ISBN: 0936480025
    Culture, daily life, clothing, food, and ceremonies of the Native Californian tribes. Has a chapter on Ishi.


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