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Tübatulabal Indians

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Tübatulabal. A Shoshonean word meaning “pine-nut eaters.” Also called :
Bahkanapul or Pahkanap]l, own name, said to refer to all those who speak their language.
Kern River Indians, popular name.
Pitanisha, the usual Yokuts name, from Pitani-u, the place-name of the forks of Kern River.
Wateknasi, by Yokuts, meaning “pine-nut eaters.”

Connections. Under the name of Kern River Shoshoneans, the Tubatulabal are given a position as one of the major divisions of the Shoshonean branch of the Uto-Aztecan linguistic family.

Location. In the upper part of the valley of Kern River.

Subdivisions. Bankalachi, on west slopes of Greenhorn Mountains. Palagewan, on Kern River above mouth of South Fork. Tubatulabal, on lower reaches of South Fork of Kern River.

Villages. E. W. Voegelin (1938) gives the following:
Palagewan sites:

Holit, near mouth of Bull Run Creek, SW. quar., sec. 4, T. 25 S., R. 33 E.
Pashgeshtap, at hot spring on east edge of Hot Springs Valley, SE. quar., sec.
31, T. 26 S., R. 33 E.
Tcuhkayl, at hot springs in foothills, SE. quar. sec. 26, T. 25 S., R. 33 E.

Tubatulabal sites:

Hahalam, South Fork Kern River, NW. quar., sec. 16, T. 26 S., R. 34 E. Kolokum, near springs on Fay Creek, NE. quar., sec. 22, T. 25 S., R. 34 E. Omomfp,
(1) on north bank of South Fork Kern River, NW. quar., sec. 3, T.
26 S., R. 35 E.
(2), north bank of South Fork of Kern River, SW., quar.,
sec. 4, T. 26 S., R. 35 E.
Padazhap, below and above spring, in foothills south of South Fork Valley,
SW. quar., sec. 31, T. 26 S., R. 34 E.
Tcebunun, south bank of South Fork of Kern River, SW. quar., sec. 35, T. 25
S., R. 35 E.
Tushpan, on floor of South Fork Valley, SW. quar., sec. 14, T. 26 S., R. 34 E.
Umubflap, below spring on flat, near west end of South Fork Valley, SE. quar.,
sec. 12, T. 26 S., R. 33 E.
Uupulap, on flat west side of South Fork of Kern River, NW. quar., sec. 24,
T. 25 S., R. 35 E.
Yftiyamup, at springs in foothills, north edge of South Fork Valley, SE. quar.,
sec. 35, T. 25 S., R. 34 E.
Yowolup, at spring on floor of South Fork Valley.
Name unknown, on South Fork of Kern River, NE. quar., sec. 18, T. 26 S.,
R. 34 E.

History. From the specialization of their language, Kroeber (1925) inferred that these people had occupied their country for a long time but later researches by Whorf (1935) make this less certain. The first white person to visit them was Father Garces in 1776 and during the next 50 years they were brought in contact with the San Buenaventura Mission, founded in 1782 near Ventura. By 1846 white settlers had established ranches in South Fork Valley, and in 1857 the Kern River gold rush began in Palagewan territory. During 1862 a few Tubatulabal joined the Owens Valley Paiute in hostilities against the Whites, and about this time a group of Koso Indians settled in the Tubatulabal area, intermarrying chiefly with the Kawaiisu, however. In 1863, 35–40 Tubatulabal and Palagewan men were massacred near Kernville by American soldiers. Between 1865 and 1875 the Tubatulabal began to practice agriculture and in 1893 the majority of them and a few Palagewan survivors were allotted land in South Fork and Kern Valleys.

Population. Kroeber (1925) makes an estimate of 1,000 Tubatulabal for the year 1770 but Voegelin (1938) regards this as “probably too high.” Henley in 1854 gives a figure of 100 which seems to apply to the Tubatulabal and Palagewan Bands, but Voegelin points out that it may be necessary to double this on account of a band temporarily absent from the country, and the same writer estimates that Henley indicates a band of perhaps 50 which may have been the Bankalachi. A village site estimate obtained by Voegelin (1938) from native informants suggested a total about 1855–60 of 228 Tubatulabal, and 65 Palagewan, or 293 combined. An estimate for 1863 based on the total of adult males indicates a population of 220. The United States Census of 1910 returned 105 and a field census taken by Voegelin in 1832 including all mixtures, 145.


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