AVIM building Antelope Valley Indian Museum
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Antelope Valley Indian Peoples

Recent and Current Times

Spiritual rituals have always been an important aspect of life for Antelope Valley Indian groups. Original drawing by Jonathan Baker.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, most American Indian residents remaining in the Antelope Valley blended, to some degree, into the European culture expanding all around them. Knowledge of traditional lifeways was passed orally through families, but the binding group ties of pre-contact times had disappeared. Intermarriage with other culture groups further eroded what had been the sustaining cultural base.

Ceremonial Dancer
World War II and its aftermath brought a new migration of American Indian residents to the Antelope Valley. Many who had served in the military chose not to return to their former reservation homes and remained in Los Angeles and its surrounding vicinities. In addition, "Urban Indian programs” relocated many people from their homelands into the Los Angeles area during this period. A number of these Indian families migrated from the Los Angeles basin to the Antelope Valley over several decades in search of jobs, affordable homes, and as an escape from problems related to congested city living.

There are no formal reservations or rancherias in the Antelope Valley. However, its Indian population was estimated in the late 1990s to be approximately 16,000. These peoples represent tribes and groups from throughout the United States and other areas in the Western hemisphere. Several intertribal groups have established councils in Antelope Valley. Periodic local cultural events, such as gatherings, powwows, and cultural fairs, highlight the continuing effort by the American Indian residents of Antelope Valley to preserve and revitalize their cultural identity.

The American Indian people remain an enduring element in this diverse society. We all benefit from their incredible history and tenacity:

  • Their long occupancy marks the landscape with projectile points that date from at least 12,000 to 100 years ago, deep food processing mortar holes in bedrock outcroppings, fascinating petroglyphs and pictographs, and traces of ancient village sites, all attesting to the adaptive ingenuity of these ancestral groups.
  • Their example of cultural perseverance through time, in the face of all odds, is remarkable. Currently, they are working to strengthen their cultural base through legislative, business, and educational efforts.
  • Their ongoing contributions toward maintaining and reinforcing their heritage through music, dance, oral history, gatherings, and many other traditional cultural expressions are tributes to human endurance and continuity.

Antelope Valley Indian Peoples
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