Costanoan Indians

The Costanoan Indians, derived from the Spanish term “Costanos” meaning “coast people,” were a group within the Penutian linguistic stock. They inhabited the coastal region between San Francisco Bay and Point Sur, extending inland to the Mount Diablo Range. The Costanoans were divided into several subdivisions, including the Monterey, Saclan, San Francisco, San Juan Bautista, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, and Soledad groups, each occupying distinct territories. Their villages, such as Ahala-n, Altah-mo, and Aulin-tak, were spread throughout these regions. Historically, the Costanoan population was estimated to be around 7,000 in 1770, but by the early 20th century, only a few mixed-blood descendants remained, with the 1910 census recording just 10 individuals and none in 1930.

Costanoan Indians. From Spanish Costanos, “coast people.” Also called:

  • Mutsun, Gatschet extended this term over these and other peoples.

Costanoan Connections.

The Costanoan formed one division of the Penutian linguistic stock.

Costanoan Location.

On the coast between San Francisco Bay and Point Sur, and inland probably to the Mount Diablo Range.

Costanoan Subdivisions

  • Monterey Costanoan, from Pajaro River to Point Sur and the lower courses of the latter stream and Salinas and Carmel Rivers.
  • Saclan Costanoan, between San Francisco and San Pablo Bays.
  • San Francisco Costanoan, between San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean.
  • San Juan Bautista Costanoan, along San Benito River and San Felipe Creek.
  • Santa Clara Costanoan, on Coyote and Calaveras Creeks.
  • Santa Cruz Costanoan, on the coast between Pescadero and Pajaro River.
  • Soledad Costanoan, on the middle course of Salinas River.

Costanoan Villages

As far as Kroeber has been able to locate them, they are as follows:

  • Ahala-n, south of Martinez.
  • Altah-mo, on the west shore of San Francisco Bay.
  • Aulin-tak, on the coast close to Santa Cruz Mission.
  • Ausai-ma, on San Felipe Creek. Awas-te, near San Francisco.
  • Chatu-mu, near Santa Cruz Mission.
  • Hotochtak, just west of the preceding.
  • Huchiu-n, northeast of Oakland.
  • Huime-n, near San Pablo.
  • Huris-tak, at the junction of San Felipe and San Benito Creeks.
  • Imuna-kan, northeast of Salinas.
  • Kakon-ta-ruk, near Point Sur.
  • Kalinta-ruk, at the mouth of Salinas River.
  • Kino-te, inland south of San Francisco Bay.
  • Matala-n, inland south of San Francisco Bay.
  • Mus-tuk, inland east of the mouth of Salinas River.
  • Mutsu-n, at San Juan. Bautista Mission.
  • Olho-n, south of San Francisco.
  • Orbiso-n, at San Jose Mission. Paisi-n, on San Benito River.
  • Posol-mi, near the south end of San Francisco Bay.
  • Romano-n, south of San Francisco.
  • Rumse-n, on Carmel River.
  • Saho-n, on Salinas River south of Salinas.
  • Sakla-n, south of Martinez. Salso-n, at San Mateo.
  • Sirhin-ta-ruk, on the coast north of Point Sur.
  • Sokel, at Aptos, east of Santa Cruz.
  • Tamie-n, on Coyote River near Santa Clara Mission.
  • Tamo-tk, near Monterey.
  • Tulo-mo, south of San Francisco.
  • Ulis-tak, on Coyote River north of Santa Clara Mission.
  • Urebure, near the west shore of San Francisco Bay.
  • Wacharo-n, near Soledad Mission on Salinas River.
  • Werwerse-n, inland east of San Jose.
  • Wolwo-n, inland northwest of Mt. Diablo.

Costanoan Population. Kroeber (1925) estimates that there were about 7,000 Costanoan in 1770. Today there are only a few mixed-blood descend-ants remaining. The census of 1910 returned 10; that of 1930, none.


Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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