Salinan Indian Tribe
Salinan Family. A linguistic stock of California, named by Latham (1856) and
Powell (1891) from Salinas river. The Salinan Indians inhabited parts of San Luis
Obispo, Monterey, and perhaps San Benito Counties, their territory extending from
the sea to the main ridge of the Coast range and from the head of the Salinas
drainage to a short distance above Soledad. Little is known about them; no name
for themselves as a body, for their language, or for any division, either in
their own or in any other Indian language, is known; nor is it known what any
such divisions may have been. The name of the place at which the mission of San
Miguel was established was Vahia, or Vatica, and that of the mission of San
Antonio, Sextapay. The Tatche (Tachi) or Telame Indians, mentioned by Duflot do
Mofras as at San Antonio, are Yokuts tribes that were brought to that mission.
Cholame creek and town in San Luis Obispo County possibly take their name from a
Salinan word, and the same may be the case with Jolon in Monterey County.
The missions of San Antonio and San Miguel were established in Salinan
territory in l771 and 1797. The total baptisms at these missions reached 4,400
and 2,400 respectively, and it appears that these numbers included Yokuts. Like
all the other tribes, the Salinan Indians decreased rapidly during mission
times, the number, at each mission having fallen to fewer than 700 by 1831,
and more rapidly after secularization. At present their
total number is perhaps 20, most of them near Jolon. See California Indians,
Mission Indians, Missions.
The Salinan language is very irregular in its structure and more complex than
most languages of California. Two dialects, those of San Antonio and San Miguel,
which do not differ much, are known, and it is probable that there were others.
The Salinan Indians appear to have lived in houses of brush or grass and to have
had no canoes. They hunted more than they fished, but depended for their
subsistence principally on vegetal food, such as acors and grass seed. They used
stone mortars and coiled baskets, and burned the dead. Of their religion and
mythology nothing is known, except that they regarded the eagle, the coyote, and
the humming-bird as creators.
Index of Tribes or Nations