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The 2005 study reconstructs the social geography of the Salinan and Northern Chumash people at the time of Spanish settlement, between 1769 and 1810.


This report provides a new understanding of the Salinan and Northern Chumash communities as they might have existed at Spanish contact, between 1769 and 1810. It relies mainly upon evidence in the registers of baptism, confirmation, marriage, and burial for missions San Antonio, San Luis Obispo, and San Miguel. Although the registers contain the names of 205 rancherías (villages and multi-village communities), they contain few direct clues about the placement of those rancherías on the landscape. To aid locational identification, all of the J.P. Harrington notes on the Salinan and Chumash were reviewed. The present study is the next level in a series of kinship-network-based ethnohistoric studies to be carried out for Coast Range areas in California.

To establish relative locations for the 205 rancherías, the report used proximity information garnered from a study of kinship ties between rancherías, as documented in the mission registers. Because clues about inter-ranchería kinship ties were scattered among various mission register entries, the data was reorganized to reconstruct a regional ethnogeography. Computer databases were built and used to sort and cross-reference life history information for over 4,000 people baptized at Mission San Antonio, over 2,400 people baptized at Mission San Antonio, and over 3,000 people baptized at Mission San Luis Obispo. A population distribution model was developed to examine and modify assumptions regarding the density of village groups across the study area. By adjusting groups to the east, west, north, and south, a map of the social landscape that made sense in terms of general environmental parameters was developed. The model was exhaustively applied to the coastal regions from Lopez Point south to San Luis Obispo Bay.


Far Western Anthropological Research Group, Inc. and Environmental Branch, California Department of Transportation, District 5


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2005 – An Ethnogeography of Salinan and Northern Chumas Communities – 1769 to 1810