Native American Nations
                   Your Source for Indian Research
                   Rolls ~ History ~ Treaties ~ Census ~ Books

Costanoan Family

 Native American Nations | Linguistic Families                    

  • Costano, Latham in Trans. Philolog. Soc. Lond., 82, 1856 (includes the Ahwastes, Olhones or Costanos, Romonans, Tulornos, Altatmos). Latham, Opuscula, 348, 1860.
  • Mutsun, Gatschet in Mag. Am. Hist., 157, 1877 (includes Ahwastes, Olhones, Altahmos, Romonans, Tulomos). Powell in Cont. N.A. Eth., III, 535, 1877 (includes under this family vocabs. of Costano, Mutsun, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz).

Derivation: From the Spanish costano, “coast-men.”

Under this group name Latham included five tribes, given above, which were under the supervision of the Mission Dolores. He gives a few words of the Romonan language, comparing it with Tshokoyem which he finds to differ markedly. He finally expresses the opinion that, notwithstanding the resemblance of a few words, notably personal pronouns, to Tshokoyem of the Moquelumnan group, the affinities of the dialects of the Costano are with the Salinas group, with which, however, he does not unite it but prefers to keep it by itself. Later, in 1877, Mr. Gatschet,34 under the family name Mutsun, united the Costano dialects with the ones classified by Latham under Moquelumnan. This arrangement was followed by Powell in his classification of vocabularies.35 More recent comparison of all the published material by Mr. Curtin, of the Bureau, revealed very decided and apparently radical differences between the two groups of dialects. In 1888 Mr. H. W. Henshaw visited the coast to the north and south of San Francisco, and obtained a considerable body of linguistic material for further comparison. The result seems fully to justify the separation of the two groups as distinct families.

Geographic Distribution
The territory of the Costanoan family extends from the Golden Gate to a point near the southern end of Monterey Bay. On the south it is bounded from Monterey Bay to the mountains by the Esselenian territory. On the east side of the mountains it extends to the southern end of Salinas Valley. On the east it is bounded by a somewhat irregular line running from the southern end of Salinas Valley to Gilroy Hot Springs and the upper waters of Conestimba Creek, and, northward from the latter points by the San Joaquin River to its mouth. The northern boundary is formed by Suisun Bay, Carquinez Straits, San Pablo and San Francisco Bays, and the Golden Gate.

Population.—The surviving Indians of the once populous tribes of this family are now scattered over several counties and probably do not number, all told, over thirty individuals, as was ascertained by Mr. Henshaw in 1888. Most of these are to be found near the towns of Santa Cruz and Monterey. Only the older individuals speak the language.

Indian Linguistic Families of America North of Mexico, 1891

Linguistic Families


Copyright 2000-2019 by and/or their author(s). The webpages may be linked to but shall not be reproduced on another site without written permission from NaNations or their author. Images may not be linked to in any manner or method. Anyone may use the information provided here freely for personal use only. If you plan on publishing your personal information to the web please give proper credit to our site for providing this information. Thanks!!!