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The Kawaiisu Culture

Language

The Kawaiisu language base is of the Southern Numic division of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Although the Kawaiisu homeland was bordered by speakers of Uto-Aztecan languages, they were non-Numic speakers. The Kitanemuk to the south spoke Takic, the Tubatulabal to the north spoke Tubatualabal. The Yokuts to the west were non-Uto-Aztecan. Because they shared the Southern Numic language, the Chemehuevi to the east are considered the closest relatives to Kawaiisu.

Homeland

“Coyote was carrying a basket with many children in it. He grew tired and set the basket on the ground. The children came out of the basket and ran away. They scattered in every direction. Coyote tried to catch them, but he couldn't. That is why people are all over the earth.”

The homeland, or core area, of the Kawaiisu encompassed a large portion of the Piute, Scodie and Tehachapi Mountains. Tomo-Kahni is only one of numerous village sites that have been identified throughout the area. On the fringes of their homeland, the Kawaiisu shared hunting and gathering grounds with the Kitanemuk and the Tubatulabal.

Great Basin or California?

Both the Kawaiisu and the Tubatulabal homelands, or core areas, straddle the ridge of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Historically, the crest of these mountains has been used as the boundary to distinguish between the Native Americans of California and those of the Great Basin. In this sense, the Great Basin includes the Mojave Desert, Owens Valley, Nevada and part of eastern Oregon, southern Idaho and western Utah. While Kawaiisu traditions are more closely related to those of the central California groups than those of their Numic relatives, there are elements of both the Great Basin and California.

The Kawaiisu Culture
History
Language & Homeland
Contact with Others
Social Organization
Shelter
Diet
Food Preparation
Basketry
Tools and Implements
Clothing and Adornments
Recreation
Stories and Myths
Rock Art

Natural History
Geology
Weather

Related Pages


ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - glossary
ghost towns - gold mines - parks & public lands: wilderness - native culture - history - geology: natural features - comments

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