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Serrano Tribe

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For about five years my family and I have created a tradition where we spend Thanksgiving in Big Bear. It wasn’t until this assignment when I was actually interested in learning about the history of my second home. With that, I discovered that Big Bear Valley was once called Yuhaviatam Valley. The Native Americans who inhabited the area 2500 years ago called themselves the Yuhaviatam but later on, Spanish Settlers named the tribe “Serrano” which means “highlander.” There were 30,000 people in this tribe but since Columbus, their population has declined and now there are about 200 left that still perform sacred ceremonies around the area. This tribe was full of peaceful and gentle people who were known as skilled basket weavers and considered grizzly bears as their grandfathers so they never ate or wore their fur. Instead their diet consisted of acorn mush, pinon nuts, berries, roots, tubers, bulbs and sage. The Serrano tribe migrated wherever they were most comfortable, usually to the desert, because the winters in Big Bear were too cold.

For this specific group, there was not a lot of information on their sex/gender system. However I did learn that Serrano were divided into two moieties, with exogamous marriage which is marriage to a member of the other group. In addition, the men did not wear clothing whereas the women wore deerskin, otter, and rabbit furs. Women were also the expert pottery makers and I’m assuming that the men were the expert hunters but this information was not mentioned. As far as the tribe’s gender system, that’s all that I was able to discover. Overall, I’m glad that I decided to do this assignment because I visit Big Bear but I never took the time to discover the origins of the land. Everything I have mentioned above was something new to me and I can’t wait to go up again to visit the The Eleanor Abbott Museum in Bear City Park where there are many Indian objects to see and learn from.



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