AVIM building Antelope Valley Indian Museum
Objects from the collection

Antelope Valley Native American Peoples

The Late Prehistoric Period


Cottonwood triangular point from Vasquez Rocks
Cottonwood Triangular point
from Vasquez Rocks

The Tataviam lived in the Santa Clarita Valley (Saugus, Newhall, Canyon Country), but their territory extended north to the southwestern edge of the Antelope Valley. Father Francisco Garces visited the Tataviam in the Santa Clarita area in April 1776, before being guided northeast to the Antelope Valley. Tataviam villages on the southwestern edge of the Antelope Valley includea Hwi'tahovea near the Liebre ranch house, southeast of Gorman, and the rancheria or village of Cuecchao, in the Liebre Mountains south of Hwi'tahovea.

The Tataviam lived in winter villages that might have had as many as 100 to 150 inhabitants or more. At the time of the Spanish conquest of California, the total population was probably at least 1000.

The Tataviam were called Alliklik (“grunters”) by the Chumash. The name Tataviam means "people who sun themselves," and Tataviam men were in fact fond of relaxing in this way.

The Tatviam depended especially on the roasted stalks of the Yucca whipplei (Our Lord's Candle or Spanish Bayonet), which grew abundantly on the hillsides of their territory. In the springtime, along the modern Antelope Valley Freeway, these yuccas are still to be seen spectacularly in bloom. They also ate Wa'at, or the juniper berry.

The last speaker of the Tataviam language died in 1916. For some time controversy existed as to whether the Tataviam were related by language and culture to the neighboring Serrano and Tongva (Fernandeno/Gabrielino) or represented an isolated culture. We now know that the Tataviam were related to the Serrano and Tongva.

Antelope Valley Native American Peoples
The Late Prehistoric Period << Previous

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