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California Native American Tribes  

Last Updated: Sep 21, 2015 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Approximately 10,000 years ago Paleo-Indians arrive in Southwest United States from Asia via the Bering Strait Bridge.

1542 - Juan Cabrillo explored the California Coast

1769 - Father Serra founds the first California mission in San Diego.  there were about 310,000 Native Americans in California

1820 - Mexico declared independence from Spain and California became a territory in Mexico

1834 - Mexico secularized and/or dismantled the missions.  The Native Americans were dispersed to urban areas where they were cheap labor or worked on the ranchos

1846 - The United States declared war on Mexico. Often known as the Mexican-American War

1848 - The treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed, making California an American territory

1849 - The Gold Rush begins.  Native Americans were treated as hostiles by the Forty-niners and actively mistreated and killed

1850 - California became a state

1850 -  California state legislature passed an act to allow indenturing of the Native Americans

1852 - The Calfornian Indian Service was established to start the reservation system. Several tribes such as the Hupa and Modocs resisted and fought to keep their land with varying amount of success

1870's - Ghost Dance religious movement attracts many Native Americans

1880's - Boarding schools established.  Native Americans saw this as an attack on their language and society

1900 - There were around 20,000 Native Americans left, a 90% drop from when the missionaries arrived

1924 - All Native Americans born in the United States were granted citizenship

1964 - The American Indian Historical Society was started. They advocated better conditions and tried to change textbooks in Calfornia to give a clearer and less distorted account of their Native American History

1969 - The Indians of All Tribes occupied Alcatraz Island for two years to protest Native American treatment

Source: The First Americans: Calfiornia Indians by C.L. Keyworth, 1991.

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American History Online

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Online Encyclopedia

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Issues & Controversies in American History


General Resources

Native Americans in California, ca. 1770

Source: Maps101


California Native Americans

General NON FICTION books about Native Americans

Cover Art
Weaving a California Tradition - Linda Yamane; Dugan Aguilar (Photographer)
Call Number: 970.494 YAM
ISBN: 0822526603
Publication Date: 1996-08-01
Follows an eleven-year-old Western Mono Indian, as she and her relatives prepare materials needed for basketweaving, make the baskets, and attend the California Indian Basketweavers Association's annual gathering.


Native American Stories, Folklore & Crafts

Cover Art
Back in the Beforetime - Jane Louise Curry; James Watts (Illustrator)
Call Number: 398.2 CUR
ISBN: 0689504101
Publication Date: 1987-04-30
A retelling of twenty-two legends about the creation of the world from a variety of California Indian tribes.

Cover Art
Native American Tales and Legends - Allan A. Macfarlan (Editor)
Call Number: 398.2 (PBC) MAC
ISBN: 0486414760
Publication Date: 2001-02-05
Presents over thirty Native American stories from several traditions, including the Cherokee, Pawnee, Zuñi, and Maidu, featuring creation myths, trickster tales, hero legends, and stories of magical creatures.

Cover Art
Lord of the Animals - Fiona French (Illustrator)
Call Number: 398.2 FRE
ISBN: 0761301127
Publication Date: 1997-04-01
Retelling of a Miwok Indian creation myth in which Coyote, creator of the world and all its creatures, entertains suggestions for fashioning the Lord of the Animals.


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