The Kitanemuk lived in the Tehachapi Mountains to the south of the Kawaiisu
of the Tehachapi Valley, and to the north of the Tataviam of the southwestern
edge of the Antelope Valley. They thus inhabited the northwestern edge
of the west end of the Antelope Valley. To the west and southwest, the
Yokuts and Chumash bordered their territory. The Kitanemuk had an important
settlement on Tejon Creek, just southwest of the Tehachapi Valley, that
Father Garces visited in 1776. Garces indicated that the Kitanemuk of the
Tehachapis were a different group from related people living in the southern
Antelope Valley, who were probably Vanyume or Beñemé Serrano.
Like their northern neighbors, the Kawaiisu, the Kitanemuk depended on
both piñon pine nuts and on acorns as important food
acorns were abundant on the western slopes of the Tehachapis, facing the
San Joaquin Valley, while the groves of piñon pine tended to be
found on the eastern side of the range, facing the desert.
The Kitanemuk, like other groups on the mountain margins of the Mojave
Desert, lived in permanent winter villages of 50 to 80 people or more.
These people dispersed into smaller mobile gathering groups during the
late spring, summer, and fall months. The smaller groups made use of temporary
camps for relatively short times, visiting different "environmental
niches" as the important food-producing plants in them became ready
The Kitanemuk spoke a language that appears to have been a dialect of
Serrano, which was spoken by groups located as far distant as modern Yucca
Valley and Twenty-nine Palms, east of the San Bernardino Mountains.
The Kitanemuk shared some elements of culture with the rest of the Serrano
groups, who lived to the east in parts of the Antelope Valley, the upper
Mojave River area, and the San Bernardino Mountains. Some customs, however,
such as rituals and practices to honor the dead, may have been different.
The Kitanemuk appear to have buried their dead, while the Serrano cremated
them. The population of the Kitanemuk has been placed in the 500 to 1000
range at the time of the arrival of the Spanish.
Antelope Valley Indian
The Late Prehistoric Period << Previous