General California Information
Capital: Sacramento Largest City: Los Angeles
Demonym: Californian Population: Ranked 1st in the US
36,457,549 (2007 est.)
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California's native people

The history of California Native Americans is a different story from that of other ethnic groups who came in the last few centuries as immigrants to an already populated land. For Native Americans, this is their homeland, and their history spans more than 10,000 years of occupation. Unlike other groups who came to California to gain wealth or to escape undesirable conditions, California Native Americans lived in a land of plenty. Their material technology reflected what was necessary to meet their needs.

While people often write about how Native Americans developed a means of living in harmony with their environment, this cultural lifestyle was more a reflection of numbers, the carrying capacity of the land, and personal needs. What might have happened if Europeans had not arrived cannot be determined. However, just as in the case of many other societies, we can assume that, as their numbers and needs increased, greater pressure would have been put on the environment. Native Americans would have adapted or ceased to exist.

California Native Americans, like American Native Americans in general, have been the subject of many books and studies. The written record shows that in California alone there were hundreds of small groups, speaking more than 100 languages. Unlike the present population of California, the Native Americans lived well within the capacity of their environment. They developed religious systems and social norms, and they traded with their neighbors for goods or services not available in their own communities. They did what was necessary to survive.

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