The Kawaiisu

The Kawaiisu (HM2HD3)

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N 35° 7.771', W 118° 26.888'

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Tehachapi's Native American People

—Tomo-Kahni State Histori Park —

The first people to inhabit the Tehachapi area called themselves Nuwa, which means "the people." Known as Kawaiisu by neighboring tribes, they are of Shoshonean stock and speak a version of Uto-Aztecan language. Anthropologists believe they migrated into this area from the Great Basin between 1500 and 3000 years ago. Today, a group of Kawaiisu enthusiasts conduct language classes and basket weaving classes to help keep the culture alive.

The Kawaiisu were not farmers both hunter-gatherers, practicing the California trait of balenophagy, the eating of acorns. They moved throughout the area harvesting spring greens, seeds, berries, acorns, and pinon nuts. There are 233 recorded plant species that the tribe used for food, drink, medicine, spiritual and utilitarian purposes. They crafted baskets to serve their needs, ranging from water bottles to cooking baskets. Three of the village sites that we know of today along Old Town Road were called Tehecita, Kohno-ci and Pamhayik i. Black Mountain was called Togowagahni which means "house of the rattlesnake."

A larger village site in Sand Canyon is today preserved at Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park. Tomo-Kahni means "winter house" in the Kawaiisu language and the park is where the "the people" would spend the winter months. It receives

an average annual rainfall of 8 inches and has a large spring that provided abundant water. For many years local people were aware of the site and fortunately no development to speak of had taken place by white settlers until more recent years in the 1960s and 1970s.

State and university archaeologist agreed that it was an important site with a great diversity of features and that it should be preserved and in 1993, State Parks purchased 240 acres. In 2002, Tomo-Kahni was declared an historic park. Volunteers give guided tours when weather permits. Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park is not only a native American living site but is rich with flora and fauna and has varied and interesting geologic history and features.
HM NumberHM2HD3
Placed ByMain Street Tehachapi, Tehachapi Heritage League and The City of Tehachapi
Marker ConditionNo reports yet
Date Added Friday, May 31st, 2019 at 8:02pm PDT -07:00
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Locationbig map
UTM (WGS84 Datum)11S E 368059 N 3888365
Decimal Degrees35.12951667, -118.44813333
Degrees and Decimal MinutesN 35° 7.771', W 118° 26.888'
Degrees, Minutes and Seconds35° 7' 46.26" N, 118° 26' 53.28" W
Driving DirectionsGoogle Maps
Which side of the road?Marker is on the right when traveling South
Closest Postal AddressAt or near , ,
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