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Antelope Valley Indian Peoples

The Late Prehistoric Period


The Kawaiisu lived in the Tehachapi Valley and in the mountains to the north, toward Lake Isabella and Walker Pass. They also traveled eastward on food-gathering trips to areas in the Mojave Desert to the north and northeast of the Antelope Valley, as far east as the Panamint Mountains and the western edge of Death Valley. The Kawaiisu lived in permanent winter villages of 60 to 100 people. They often divided into smaller groups during the warmer months of the year and exploited both mountain and desert plants and animals for food and raw materials.

Kawaiisu point

Kawaiisu point, Cottonwood Triangle Series

The Kawaiisu were related by language and culture to the Southern Paiute of southwestern Nevada and the Chemehuevi of the eastern Mojave Desert of California. They may have originally lived in the desert before coming to the Tehachapi Mountains region, perhaps as early as 2000 years ago or before.

(l-r) Rose, Fred, and
Martina Collins (Kawaiisu)
The Kawaiisu have been known by several other names, including the Caliente, Paiute, and Tehachapi Indians, but they called themselves Nuwu or "people." They may have numbered from 500 to 1000 people at the time that the Spanish occupied California in 1770. The Kawaiisu maintained friendly relations with the neighboring Kitanemuk and also participated in cooperative antelope drives (driving herds of antelope into traps so they could be more easily slaughtered) with the Yokuts, another group living in the San Joaquin Valley.

Antelope Valley Indian Peoples
The Late Prehistoric Period << Previous

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