The Tataviam (Kitanemuk: people on the south slope) are a Native American group in Southern California. They traditionally occupied an area in northwest present-day Los Angeles County and southern Ventura County, primarily in the upper basin of the Santa Clara River, the Santa Susana Mountains, and the Sierra Pelona Mountains. They are distinct from the Kitanemuk and Gabrielino-Tongva.

Tataviam people
Regions with significant populations
United States ( California)
Tataviam language, English language,
Spanish language
Traditional tribal religion, Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Gabrielino-Tongva, Chumash, Serrano, Kitanemuk, Luiseño

The Tataviam were called the Alliklik by their neighbors, the Chumash (Chumash: meaning grunter or stammerer, probably because they spoke a different language).[1]


The meager evidence concerning the language spoken by the Tataviam proved initially confusing to scholars. Eventually it became clear that there were two different sources for the extant word lists. The vocabularies recorded by C. Hart Merriam were from a Chumash dialect, probably the group referred to as "Alliklik", while the vocabularies recorded by Alfred Kroeber and John P. Harrington were Uto-Aztecan, probably the group referred to as "Tataviam." Further research has shown that the Uto-Aztecan language belonged to the Takic branch of that family, specifically the Serran branch along with Kitanemuk and Serrano.[2] The last known Tataviam speaker died before 1916.[3]


Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber (1925:883) estimated the combined 1770 population of the Serrano, Kitanemuk, and Tataviam as 3,500, and their population in 1910 as about 150. A close study of genealogical records indicates that people of Tataviam descent survived into the twentieth century, although most had lost their traditional language. Tribal members continued to intermarry with other indigenous groups and with other ethnicities.[4]


The Tataviam had summer and winter settlements. They harvested Yucca whipplei and wa'at or juniper berries.[3]


The Santa Clarita Valley is believed to be the center of Tataviam territory, north of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. They were noted as a distinct linguistic and cultural group in 1776, by Padre Francisco Garcés, and have been distinguished from the Kitanemuk and the Fernandeño.[4]

The Spanish first encountered the Tataviam during their 1769-1770 expeditions. According to Chester King and Thomas C. Blackburn (1978:536), "By 1810, virtually all the Tataviam had been baptized at Mission San Fernando Rey de España." Like other indigenous groups, they suffered high rates of fatalities from new infectious diseases brought by the Spanish, as they had no immunity. As of 2015, the Tataviam people are trying to continue and maintain a tribal government. Although the Tataviam used to be referred to as the Mission Indians of San Fernando, during the Spanish Missionaries, but as of the revolving time with the Mexican Government they have made many land grant treaties within the Tataviam territory. Following the commencement of California as a state, The United States Indian Affairs decided to group the Tataviam with other Indian Villages in the same region, which is now Fort Tejon Indian Reservation.[5]

See also


  1. Johnson, John. "Discussion of the History of the Tataviam & Neighboring Native Americans of Southern California", Santa Clarita Website, Retrieved 1 Mar 2010
  2. Pamela Munro with John Johnson. 2001. "What Do We Know about Tataviam? Comparisons with Kitanemuk, Gabrielino, Kawaiisu, and Tübatulabal," paper presented to the Friends of Uto-Aztecan Conference, Santa Barbara, California, July 9, 2001.
  3. "Antelope Valley Indian Peoples: Tataviam." Antelope Valley Indian Museum.' Retrieved 18 Aug 2015.
  4. Johnson, John R., and David D. Earle. 1990. "Tataviam Geography and Ethnohistory", Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 12:191-214, accessed 11 October 2011
  5. http://www.tataviam-nsn.us/heritage

Further reading

  • Johnson, John R., and David D. Earle. 1990. "Tataviam Geography and Ethnohistory", Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology 12:191-214.
  • King, Chester, and Thomas C. Blackburn. 1978. "Tataviam," In California, edited by Robert F. Heizer, pp. 535–537. Handbook of North American Indians, William C. Sturtevant, general editor, vol. 8. Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.
  • Kroeber, A. L. 1925. Handbook of the Indians of California. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 78. Washington, D.C.
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