History of California

California Native Indians - Louis Choris 1822

California Native Indians

This illustrated article provides interesting facts, information and a history timeline of the Native American Indians of California.

The climate, land, history, environment and natural resources that were available to the indigenous Indian tribes in California resulted in the adoption of the California culture.

Discover the history, interesting facts and information about the way of life of the California Indians before the arrival of the white European settlers and colonists.

History of Native Americans
Native Indian Tribes Index

History of California Indians
The above picture shows Native American Indians of California who lived in this area before the enforced removal of Native Indians to the reservations.

Stone Age History of California
The American Native Indians who lived in what is now the present state of California led a Stone Age lifestyle - they only had stone tools and weapons, had never seen a horse and had no knowledge of the wheel. The history of the California Indians are detailed in this article.

Map of California
The map of California provides a bird's eye view of the location of the tribal territories and homelands of the California Indians in relation to the present day United States of America. The map indicates the location of the State and the American Native Indians of California.


State Map of California

State Map showing location of California

State Map showing location of California Indians


Names of the California Indian Tribes
There are many famous Native American tribes who played a part in the history of the state and whose tribal territories and homelands are located in the present day state of California. California is a state in the western United States. The names of the California tribes included the Chilula, Cocopah, Hoopa (aka Hupa), Juaneno, Karok, Kato, Konkow, Mohave Miwok, Modoc, Pomo, Shoshoni tribe aka Shoshone, Wintu and Wiyot.

Fast Facts about the History of California Indians
The way of life and history of California Indians was dictated by the natural raw materials available in the State of California. The natural resources and materials available provided the food, clothing and houses of the California Indians. Fast facts about the history, culture and life of the State of California Indians. Discover facts and information about the history of the State of California Indians.

  • Name of State: California
  • Meaning of State name: Believed to have been derived from a 1510 book called 'Las Sergas de Esplandian' by Garcia Ordonez de Montalvo. The book centres around a mythical Spanish island ruled by a queen called 'Califia' and used for the name California.
  • Geography, Environment and Characteristics of the State of California: Long mountainous coastline, central valley, Sierra Nevada on the east, southern desert basins, rugged mountains in the north.
  • Culture adopted by California Indians: California
  • Languages: Athapaskan, Penutian and Uto-Aztecan dialects
  • Way of Life (Lifestyle): Hunter fishers
  • Types of housing, homes or shelters:  Grass Mat houses, Cedar Bark Lodges, Redwood Plank Houses, semi-subterranean pit houses or earthlodges

History Timeline of the California Indians
The history and the way of life of California Indians was profoundly affected by newcomers to the area. The indigenous people had occupied the land thousands of years before the first European explorers arrived. The Europeans brought with them new ideas, customs, religions, weapons, transport (the horse and the wheel), livestock (cattle and sheep) and disease which profoundly affected the history of the Native Indians. For a comprehensive History timeline regarding the early settlers and colonists refer to the
Colonial America Time Period. The history of the State and of its Native American Indians is detailed in a simple History Timeline. This California Indian History Timeline provides a list detailing dates of conflicts, wars and battles involving California Indians and their history. We have also detailed major events in US history which impacted the history of the California Indians.

California History Timeline

History Timeline of the Native Indians of California

10,000 BC: The first indigenous people were of the Paleo-Indian culture who lived in caves or were Nomadic Hunters

7000 BC: Archaic Period in which people built basic shelters and made stone weapons and stone tools

1000 AD: Woodland period with permanent houses and farming

1535: Hernando Cortés explores La Paz

1539: Francisco de Ulloa explores the gulf of California

1542: Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo explores California and claims the land for Spain

1545: A typhus epidemic brought by the Europeans kills hundreds of thousands of natives

1579: Sir Francis Drake also claims California for England

1775: 1775 - 1783 - The American Revolution.

1776: July 4, 1776 - United States Declaration of Independence

1781: The Yuma Revolt

1803: The United States bought the Louisiana Territory from France for 15 million dollars for the land

1812: 1812 - 1815: The War of 1812 between U.S. and Great Britain, ended in a stalemate but confirmed America's Independence

1821: Mexico wins its independence from Spain and takes control of California

1830: Indian Removal Act

1830: 1830-1840 - Miwok-Yokut Raids into Mexican California

1832: Department of Indian Affairs established

1841: Captain John Bartleson leads first wagon train of settlers, across Utah to California

1846: The United States invades Mexico

1848: California is passed to the US with the Treaty of Guadalupe, which ended the Mexican War

1850: California was admitted into the Union

1850: The Mariposa Indian War in California,  a conflict between the with Miwok and Yokut Indians and miners. Miners forced the Indians off their gold rich lands.

1850: The Pitt River expedition, California. Made by Colonel E. A. Stevenson, Indian Agent to establish relations with the Achomawi or Pit River, Hat Creek and Modoc.

1856: The Tule River War

1861: 1861 - 1865: The American Civil War.

1862: U.S. Congress passes Homestead Act opening the Great Plains to settlers

1864: The Snake War (1864–1868) was fought by the U.S. army against the "Snake Indians" which was the settlers term for Northern Paiute, Bannock and Western Shoshone bands who lived along the Snake River. Fighting took place in Oregon, Nevada, and California, and Idaho

1865: The surrender of Robert E. Lee on April 9 1865 signalled the end of the Confederacy

1865: 1865-1868 - Campaign against Indians in southern Oregon, Idaho (Territory) and northern California.

1872: 1872 - 1873 Modoc War in California and Oregon when led by Captain Jack Native Indians left their terrible reservation and fought for 6 months, Captain Jack was hanged

1887: Dawes General Allotment Act passed by Congress leads to the break up of the large Indian Reservations and the sale of Indian lands to white settlers

1969: All Indians declared citizens of U.S.

1979: American Indian Religious Freedom Act was passed

History Timeline of the Native Indians of California

State of California History Timeline

History of California Indians - Destruction and Decline
The history of the European invasion brought epidemic diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, influenza, measles and smallpox. The Native Indians of California had not developed immunities against these diseases resulting in huge losses in population. Exploitation including the leverage of taxes, enforced labor and enslavement were part of their history, taking their toll on the California Indians.


  • History of California Indians
  • Interesting Facts and information about the California Culture and History
  • Names of indigenous California tribes of Indians
  • Fast Facts, History Timeline and info
  • Map of California
  • History Timeline of the California Indians

State of California Indians - Additional Pictures and Videos
State of California Indian History. Discover the vast selection of pictures and videos of Native Americans. The pictures show the clothing, weapons and decorations of various Native American tribes that can be used as an educational history resource for kids and children. We hope that this article on the History of California Indians  will assist in your studies or homework and that you will enjoy watching the videos featuring many pictures of the Native Americans. A great historical educational resource for kids on the subject of the History of California Indians..


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