When studying Native American history, California's indigenous peoples are always noted as being far more diverse than the rest of the nation. While the number of distinct languages is generally given, very little about the tribes themselves is added.

Does anyone know of any good sources for, or have any knowledge of, the various tribes that inhabited California before American settlement began to peak?

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    "Diverse" is a heavily-overloaded word right now. Are you talking about sheer number of different languages spoken? – T.E.D. Feb 10 '17 at 14:22
  • If you look at most maps there seems to be a dominant tribe or language group per region. Cali seems to be different. Most texts I've read just mention the sheer number of tribes and maybe one or two specific examples. – Brad Ford Feb 10 '17 at 14:24
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    Oklahoma may well have more Native American language families now, but that's because the USA used it as a their Indian dumping ground during their expansionary period. There certainly weren't 7 major families of languages there historically. Perhaps 3 or 4 at most. So I suspect you are quite right. – T.E.D. Feb 10 '17 at 14:28
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    I objected because your question ascribes social change to the arrival of Americans, but they were not the primary agents of the change, their presence having been preceded by several generations of Californios. – Aaron Brick Feb 11 '17 at 16:40

The government has some good resources for research like this site for the Yokut tribe. This map from Berkeley, not only outlines each culture but puts them into a super class based on language.

Indigenous Langauge Families

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    20 minutes and 2 votes is kind of hasty for an accept. However, after looking at the map, I agree with it totally. – T.E.D. Feb 10 '17 at 14:24
  • About as specific as I was looking for – Brad Ford Feb 10 '17 at 14:34
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    @Bradford - Me too, and I didn't even know I was looking for it! For instance, just eyeballing it, it seems to show evidence of Hokan-Speakers being there before Penutian, as they cover the same area, but the Peutian territory is mostly contiguous, while the Hokan is very disjoint. Ditto with Uto-Aztecan, and I know from other sources those people were late invaders pretty much everywhere they exist today. Likely their ancestors crossed Beringia relatively recently. – T.E.D. Feb 10 '17 at 14:38
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    ...went and looked it up, and yup. "Geographic distribution of the Hokan languages suggests that they became separated around the great central valley of California by the influx of later-arriving Penutian and other peoples; archaeological evidence for this is summarized in Chase-Dunn & Mann (1998)". I may have to award this answer a bounty once it ages enough. – T.E.D. Feb 10 '17 at 14:40

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