Example of what a Tataviam Indian kitchen setting might have looked like.
The Tataviam Indians were a Shoshone-speaking people who arrived in the Upper Santa Clara
River Valley (Santa Clarita Valley) about AD 450. They occupied an area bounded by Piru to the west,
Newhall to the south, the Liebre Mountains to the north, and Soledad Pass to the east.
The word tataviam roughly translates into "People of the Sunny Slopes." Their Kitanemuk neighbors
in the Antelope Valley called them "Aliklik," believed to be a derogatory term for the clicking sound of
While it is not known exactly who preceded the Tataviam, the same area was
occupied by a people, probably of Chumash origin, who arrived somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 years ago.
The Tataviam were hunter-gatherers who organized into a series of autonomous tribelets throughout the region.
They ate acorns, yucca, juniper berries, sage seeds and islay, and they hunted small game. They likely practiced
a shamanist religion that put them in touch with the supernatural world through trances and hallucinations
brought on by the ingestion of jimsonweed, native tobacco and other psychoto-mimetic plants found along
the local rivers and streams. Such habitats also provided raw materials for baskets, cordage and netting.
The arrival of Spanish settlers in 1769 led to the demise of the Tataviam people. The Spanish rounded up
the aborigines in the early 1800s and conscripted them for manual labor at the mission ranches and vineyards,
where they intermarried with other native folk from other parts of Southern California.
The last full-blooded Tataviam, Juan José Fustero, died on June 30, 1921, at Rancho Camulos, near Piru.*
NOTE: While Fustero liked to bill himself as the "Last of the Piru Indians," an article in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner
in 1965 says that Fustero may actually been married to a full-blooded Tataviam woman, and that they had children.
Furthermore, according to "Standing Bear" Rudy Ortega Jr., Spiritual Leader of the Tataviam-Fernandino Tribe,
as of 1997 there were approximately 600 persons of Tataviam descent living in Los Angeles County.
Kitchen setting designed by Paul Higgins.
For more on this subject, read The Tataviam:
Early Newhall Residents by Paul Higgins.