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Historical society looks at one family’s heritage

Local organization presents History of Native Americans of the SCV on Saturday

Posted: July 30, 2008 12:11 a.m.
Updated: September 30, 2008 5:02 a.m.

The Santa Clarita Valley Historical Society will present the History of Native Americans of the SCV this Saturday, July 26, from 2 p.m. - 4 p.m. in Mentry Hall, Room 318, at the College of the Canyons Valencia campus at 26455 Rockwell Canyon Road.

The free presentation will feature Dr. John Johnson, curator of anthropology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and an expert on the Santa Clarita Valley's Native Americans. He will discuss the
Tatavian and neighboring Native Americans.

A band of Shoshone Indians called the Tataviam came across the Great Plains to the Santa Clarita Valley sometime around 450 A.D. They were a hunting and gathering society who lived in approximately 25 villages consisting of cone-shaped huts of willow poles covered with grass. The main and largest village, called Chaguayabit, was thought to be located at Castaic Junction. There were also smaller villages at present-day Piru, Camulos and Newhall. Their territory ranged from Piru to the west, Newhall to the south, and the Lebec area to the north.

For many centuries, the Tataviam coexisted with nature and very little changed in the valley. But in August 1769 a group of Spanish soldiers and missionaries, led by Gaspar de Portola, crossed over the San Gabriel Mountains into the Santa Clarita Valley. The Spanish felt that these peoples should be taught modern agriculture and converted to Christianity.

A mission was established in 1797 in San Fernando. An outpost of the mission, the Estancia de San Francisco Xavier, was built on a bluff overlooking present day Magic Mountain in 1804. The Tataviam, along with other Native American peoples of the region, were brought to the mission by the Spanish to live and learn European ways.

For more information call Pat Saletore or Alan Pollack at 254-1275 or visit


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