Yuhaviatam (people of the pines)

Santos Manuel

Who Are They?
The Yuhaviatam are known as “the people of the pines,” and are historically based in the San Bernardino and eastern San Gabriel mountains. They are believed to have migrated to southern California around 2,500 years ago, and many Yuhaviatam people also refer to themselves as the Serrano.

Why Do Some People Call Them The Serrano?
This is the name that was given to them by the Spanish in the late 18th century, when the Spanish wanted to distinguish the Yuhaviatam from their neighbors the Tongva, Tataviam and Kitanemuk. The Spanish perceived the Yuhaviatam as a people of the mountains, and thus “Serrano” in Spanish means “highlander” or “mountaineer.” The Yuhaviatam are federally recognized with their Serrano name, with reservation land in Highland, CA and Banning, CA.

How Did They Live?
The Yuhaviatam were hunter-gatherers  who constructed special villages in the mountains to hunt small game, using traps, bows and arrows. They did not believe in hunting grizzly bears, believing the bears to be reincarnations of their ancestors, but did hunt rabbit, deer and otter for their fur in winter. During these cold winter months many Yuhaviatam would move to nearby valleys that had a milder climate, such as Apple Valley and Lucerne Valley. The Yuhaviatam built large, dome-shaped homes in a manner similar to their neighbors the Tongva. This kind of home was referred to as a kiche or kizh just as it was for the Tongva, and was usually made from willow branches. The homes were covered with woven mats, were large enough for several families and contained a fireplace for each family.

What Did They Eat?
The Yuhaviatam diet consisted of the game which they caught, as well as various nuts and vegetables. The women ground pinion nuts into a dough and made a flat tortilla-like bread. They also gathered acorns from oak trees and ground them for a coarse flour, from which they made a porridge called wiich. Other staples were roasted agave, prickly pears, and yucca blossoms.

What Were Their Villages Like?
Yuhaviatam villages were generally patrilineal and had exogamous moieties, meaning that a village would seek for its members to marry outside the village and would form special ties with neighboring villages just to do this. One of the most well-known Yuhaviatam villages was Japchibit, home of Toypurina, who led two revolts against Mission San Gabriel Arcángel in 1785 and 1786. The 27-year-old Toypurina is memorialized at Haramokngna’s Toypurina gallery at the front of its property.

How Did They Adapt To Life In The Missions?
Yuhaviatam were ultimately baptized as part of the mission system that removed them from their ancestral lands. Many of the Yuhaviatam became residents of Mission San Gabriel Arcángel as this was the closest mission to the eastern San Gabriel and San Bernardino mountains. This resulted in many Yuhaviatam peoples being mixed together with Tongva peoples in the region and resulted in the creation of a group at the mission which the Spanish referred to as the Serrano.

Yuhaviatam

Who Are The Modern Yuhaviatam?
Both the Tongva and the Yuhaviatam are Takic-speaking groups who merged at the San Gabriel mission, and to this day many members of both groups can claim ancestry on both sides. In addition, both the Yuhaviatam people of the San Manuel reservation and the Maarenga’yam people of Morongo reservation have used the word “Serrano” to refer to themselves, but the Maarenga’yam people do not refer to themselves as Yuhaviatam. Today the most clearly identified and federally recognized Yuhaviatam community is the San Mañuel Band of Mission Indians in Highland, CA.