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Antelope Valley Indian Peoples

The Spanish Arrive

Shoshonean residents of the Antelope Valley were encountered by the Spanish intruders who began exploring Antelope Valley about four hundred years ago. The first fully documented contact came in 1776 when a Franciscan priest, Father Francisco Garces, came through the Mojave Desert on his way to Monterey.


Mission San Fernando in 1865
Courtesy Bancroft Library
Garces's diary of his trip, one of the few such written accounts in existence, has been used extensively by researchers to help identify the cultural and linguistic origins of the people living in the Antelope Valley at that time. Initially, contact with the Spaniards was seemingly limited and benign. Increasingly, however, the people of the valley were being "resettled" to the San Fernando Mission. In 1808, a Spanish military expedition was dispatched to the valley. By 1811, according to Mission records, "resettlement " of at least two entire villages had been accomplished. Disease, forced labor, Spanish occupation of tribal lands, and the Europeans' ruthless disregard of indigenous cultural practices and traditions were all contributors to the dramatic decline of Indian populations and their societal structures, not only in the Antelope Valley, but throughout all of California. By the time California became a U.S. territory in 1848, few Antelope Valley Indian settlers remained.

Antelope Valley Indian Peoples
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