History shows us that there are two distinct tribes which were attributed the name of Kawia by etymologists. The larger tribe is one of the Shoshonean stock, while the smaller, extinct tribe is a Yokuts tribe. Both of them resided in California, further confusing historians.
Kawia Indians – Shoshonean
The name, of uncertain derivation, of a Shoshonean division in southern California, affiliated linguistically with the Aguas Calientes, Juaneños, and Luiseños. They inhabit the north tongue of the Colorado desert from Banning south east at least as far as Salton, as also the headwaters of Santa Margarita river, where the Kawia Reservation is situated. Formerly they are said to have extended into San Bernardino valley, but it seems more likely that this was occupied, as at present, by the Serranos. They are not to be confounded with a Yokuts tribe bearing the same name. They were first visited in 1776 by Fray Francisco Garcés, who referred to them under their Mohave name, “Jecuich,” obtained from his guide. At this time they lived about the north slopes of the San Jacinto Mouintains and to the northward, and roamed east to the Colorado, but their principal seat was about San Gorgonio pass. Burton 1 gave 3,500 as the number of men alone in 1856, evidently an exaggeration. There were 793 Indians assembled under the name “Coahuila” at all the Mission reservations in 1885, while the Indians on Cahuilla Reservation under the Mission Tule river agency in 1894 numbered 151, and in 1902, 159. This reservation consists of 18,240 acres of unpatented land.
Duasno, Juan Bautista, Kavinish, Kawia, Kwaleki, Lawilvan, Malki, Pachawal, Palseta, Paltewat, Panachsa, San Sebastian, Sechi, Sokut Menyil, Temalwahish, Torres, Tova, and Wewutnowhu.
Kawia Indians – Yokuts
A Yokuts tribe formerly living on the edge of the plains oil the north side of Kaweah river, California, but now extinct. They were hostile to the American settlers. By agreement of May 13, 1851 (which was not confirmed), a reserve was set aside for this and, other tribes between Kawea and Chowchilla rivers, California, which at the same time ceded their unreserved lands.
- Burton H. R. Ex. Doc. 76, 34th Cong., 3d sess., 115,1857