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Awaswas map.png
Map of the Awaswas area, with the Native American tribes within labeled
Regions with significant populations
Previously United States United States (California California)
Awaswas language
Related ethnic groups
Ohlone: Ramaytush, Tamien, Mutsun and Rumsien peoples
Ohlone villages
Map of the Ohlone tribes, showing the Awaswas neighbors
Chapel of the Mission Santa Cruz, reconstruction.

The Awaswas people, also known as Santa Cruz people, are one of eight divisions of the Ohlone Native Americans of Northern California. The Awaswas lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains and along the coast of present-day Santa Cruz County from present-day Davenport to Aptos. The name for this area in Awaswas was Aulinta.

Historically, they spoke the Awaswas language, one of the Costanoan language dialects in the Utian family, which became the main language spoken at the Mission Santa Cruz. However, there is evidence that this grouping was more geographic than linguistic, and that the records of the 'Santa Cruz Costanoan' language in fact represent several diverse dialects.

The Awaswas territory was bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, and other Ohlone people on all other sides: the Ramaytush to the north, Tamien to the east, and the Mutsun and Rumsien to the south. The Awaswas population living between Davenport and Aptos was estimated at 600 people in 1770.

Mission Era history

During the era of Spanish missions in California, the Awaswas people's lives changed with the Mission Santa Cruz (founded in 1791) built in their territory. Most were forced into slavery at this mission and were baptized, lived and educated to be Catholic neophytes, also known as Mission Indians, until the missions were discontinued by the Mexican Government in 1834.

Awaswas tribes and villages

The villages included the Sokel, who lived at Aptos, and the Chatu-mu, who lived near the current location of Santa Cruz.

Awasawas neophytes at the Mission Santa Cruz came from the following villages, located in today's Santa Cruz County:

Achilla, Aestaca, Agtisrn, Apil, Aulintac, Chalumü, Chanech, Chicutae, Choromi, Coot, Hauzaurni, Hottrochtac, Huachi, Hualquilme, Huocom, Locobo, Luchasmi, Mallin, Nohioalli, Ochoyos, Onbi, Osacalis (Souquel), Payanmin, Sachuen, Sagin, Shiuguermi, Shoremee, Sio Cotchmin, Tejey, Tomoy, Turami, Utalliam, Wallanmi, Yeunaba, Yeunata, Yeunator.

Awaswas peoples today

In 2011, a march was held in Santa Cruz to preserve "the Knoll", the 6,000-year-old burial site of a child, located near Branciforte Creek.

Awaswas people, the "documented descendants of Missions San Juan Bautista and Santa Cruz", have become members of the Amah Mutsun [Wikidata] tribal band. In 2012, Amah Mutsun Tribal Chairman Valentin Lopez stated that "tribe members are scattered. Few can afford to live in their historic lands today," and many now make their homes in the Central Valley.

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