The degree to which the Tubatulabal language diverges from its Shoshonean kin shows that these people have been more or less isolated in their mountain home for a considerable period. Nevertheless, they were on friendly terms with their various neighbors on the western slope of the Sierra whom they often visited, and even joined during certain seasons. The legend that they raided the peaceable valley Yokuts from time to time is therefore pure fancy, without foundation.
The home of the Tubatulabal lay on the main and South Branches of the Kern River, their territory thus extending up the former to its headwaters in Sequoia Park. This was, however, too high to be settled permanently and served as no more than summer hunting territory. It is likely that Western Mono and possibly some Yokuts also visited this section, so that its assignment to the Tubatulabal follows mainly from its greater accessibility to them.
Tubatulabal is a Shoshonean term meaning "pine nut eaters".
Their former population may have numbered 1,000. In 1925 there were 100 to 150.
The Western Mono
The Western Mono territory comprises the western slope of the Sierra from the summit of the watershed to the lower country where they adjoined the foothill Yokuts, and between the Fresno and Tule Rivers. (For type, see Gayton, 1929-a, plates) The northern side of the Kaweah River was occupied by the Waksachi band, the southern side, by the Balwisha (Patwisha) band. Most of the season was naturally spent in the lower hills, as the high Sierra are accessible only in the summer.
Linguistically, they are close to the Owens Valley Paiute, varying from them chiefly as a dialect. This implies an ultimate eastern origin, indicating that they, like the Tubatulabal, are simply a Shoshonean people who, at some time in the past, pushed across the crest of the Sierra.
The Western Mono formerly probably numbered about 2,000; in 1935 they had about half that number. Like other remotely located tribes in California, their population has suffered less from the inroads of civilization than that of the formerly far more numerous but accessible peoples, such as the Yokuts.
The Yokuts occupy the greater part of the San Joaquin valley and the lower foothills of the Sierra to the east. (For type, see Kroeber, 1925, pl. 32 b,e.) They are subdivided into tribes, each numbering two to three hundred persons, and having a tribal name, dialect, and definite territory. The names are usually meaningless and end either in amni or a derivative of this or in chi. Neither the Yokuts nor their neighbors should be called "Mariposans".
The foothill tribes usually occupy smaller areas than those of the valley and are more distinctive in dialects. The tribe nearest Sequoia Park is the Yaudanchi. Of them, Kroeber says, (1825:479-480):
To the west of Sequoia Park were the Wukehamni Yokuts of whom Kroeber (p.480) says :
The Owens Valley Paiute
The Owens Valley Paiute belong to an extensive group known generically as the Northern Paiute (in western Nevada as the Paviotso), which extends through eastern California and western Nevada into eastern Oregon. (For types, see Steward, 1933, plates, 1, 5, 8). The Northern Paiute are subdivided into local groups of several hundred individuals each. Each group or tribe owns and controls definitely demarked sections of territory and varies slightly in dialect from the others.
Within these tribal territories were a number of villages. In winter the people lived in Owens Valley or at the edge of the timber in the Inyo mountains where pinenuts were stored. Spring and summer brought considerable wandering within tribal territory in search of wild seeds and game. In the fall there was a communal hunt, dances, and pinenut harvest.
There was a good deal of intercourse with the tribes west of the Sierra during the summer, many trips being made for the purpose of trade. Inter-marriage with these tribes was not in frequent. Thus, there was an exchange of ideas which tended to level down the effect of environment.