What was the lifestyle and culture of the Serrano tribe?
In 1775 Fray Fancisco Garces made first European contact with the tribe. Fray Francisco Garces described the people as living near Tejon Creek, under their Mohave name of Cuahajai or Cuabajay (aka Cahuilla), as "approachable, quiet, inoffensive, and having good hearts". The Serrano called themselves Yuhaviatam, which means "people of the pines". The people were divided into three groups, or bands.
- The Kitanemuk band lived in the Kern and San Joaquin river basins
- The Vanyume band, resided along the Mojave River
- The main Serrano, were located in the San Bernardino Mountains, adjacent valleys, and a small part of the Mojave Desert
The Spanish established the Mission System in Southern California to convert Native Indian tribes to Christianity and enslave them and the tribe were brought under the San Gabriel and San Fernando Missions and referred to as the 'Serrano'. The name 'Serrano' is Spanish for "highlander,” or "mountaineer” that reflected the geography of their homelands. The Mexicans took control of Alta and Baja California forcing the Native people to work on their farms. The Americans followed, moving west along the California Trail and were joined by the Gold Rush settlers. The Serrano people were decimated by the diseases brought by the invaders and subjected to atrocities. Following the short-lived Garra Revolt (1851) those who survived were forced on to various reservations.
What language did the Serrano tribe speak?
The Serrano language is of the Serran branch of Uto-Aztecan family spoken in Southern California. The Serrano language is now nearly extinct.
Where did the Serrano tribe live?
The Serrano are people of the California Native American cultural group. The location of their tribal homelands covered the mountainous region of what is now southern California. The geography of the region in which they lived dictated the lifestyle and culture of the Serrano tribe.
Land: Mountains, deserts, valleys, rivers and streams
Climate: Mild temperate climate
Natural Resources: Oak trees, acorns, buckeye nuts, mushrooms, pinon nuts, manzanita berries, cacti fruits, bulbs, roots, grasses, yucca plant
Types of housing or shelters: Types of housing or shelters: Kiich
Land animals: The animals included deer, elk, chipmunks, rabbits, squirrels, quail, mountain sheep and bear
- Insects: Crickets, grasshoppers and dried locusts were all eaten to supplement the diet
What did the Serrano tribe live in?
The Serrano tribe lived in a type of shelter called a Kiich. A Kiich was made using willow poles and long sticks to create a frames that were covered in brush and and yucca fiber. A typical rectangular kiich measured about 12 - 14 feet in width and length and was often dug about 2 feet into the ground. The insulation from the ground helped to combat extreme temperatures that were hot during the day but cold at night. The floors of the kiich houses were covered with woven mats made of yucca. There was a smoke hole in the roof for the night time fires which also let in air and light during the day. Cooking was done outside the kiich. The people also built ramadas, thatched roofs supported by poles, that provided shade. Small Serrano villages of kiich houses were constructed near lakes, rivers and streams located in the valleys, and mountains of the San Bernardino highlands.