Costanoan Indian Tribe
Costanoan Family. A linguistic
family on the coast of central California. In 1877 Powell (Cont.
N. A. Ethnol., In, 535) established a family which he called Mutsun, extending from San Francisco to Soledad and from the sea
inland to the Sierras, and including an area in the Marin County
peninsula, north of San Francisco bay, and gave vocabularies
from various parts of this territory. In 1891 (7th Rep. B. A.
E., 70, 92, map) Powell divided this area between two families,
Moquelumnan and Costanoan. The Moquelumnan family occupied the
portion of the old Mutsun territory east of San Joaquin river
of San Francisco bay.
The territory of the Costanoan family extended from the Pacific
ocean to San Joaquin river, and from the Golden Gate and Suisun
bay on the north to Pt Sur on the coast and a point a short distance south
of Soledad in the Salinas valley on the south. Farther inland the south
boundary is uncertain, though it was probably near Big Panoche
creek. The Costanoan Indians lived
mainly on vegetal products, especially acorns and seeds,
though they also obtained fish and mussels, and captured deer and
smaller game. Their clothing was scant, the men going naked.
Their houses were tule or grass huts, their boats balsas or
rafts of tules. They made baskets, but no pottery, and appear to
have been as primitive as most of the tribes of California. They
burned the dead. The Rumsen of Monterey looked upon the eagle,
the humming bird, and the coyote as the original Inhabitants of
the world, and they venerated the redwood. Their languages were
simple and harmonious. Seven missions—San Carlos, Soledad,
San Juan Bautista,
Cruz, Santa Clara,
San José, and Dolores
(San Francisco)—were established in Costanoan territory by the
Franciscans subsequent to 1770, and continued until their
confiscation by the Mexican government in 1834, when the Indians
were scattered. The surviving individuals of Costanoan blood may
number today 25 or 30, most of them "Mexican" in life and
manners rather than Indian.
True tribes did not exist in Costanoan territory, the groups
mentioned below being small and probably little more than
village communities, without political connection or even a name
other than that of the locality they inhabited.
The following divisions or settlements have been recognized:
Ahwaste, Altahmo, Ansaime, Aulintac, Chalone, Costanos,
Kalindaruk, Karkin, Mutsun, Olhon, Romonan, Rumsen, Saklan,
Thomien, Tulomo, and Wacharon (?).
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historical value only and are not the
opinions of the Webmasters of the site.
of American Indians, 1906
Index of Tribes or Nations