The Indigenous peoples of California (known as Native Californians) are the indigenous inhabitants who have lived or currently live in the geographic area within the current boundaries of California before and after the arrival of Europeans.
With over one hundred federally recognized tribes, Californian tribes are characterized by linguistic and cultural diversity.
The California cultural area does not exactly conform to the state of California's boundaries.
Tribes in Baja California who do not cross into California are classified as Indigenous peoples of Mexico.
and to a sociopolitical organization into small tribelets (usually 100 individuals or fewer) with a shared "ideology that defined language boundaries as unalterable natural features inherent in the land".
Of the remainder, most are Uto-Aztecan or Athapaskan languages. The Hokan superstock has the greatest time depth and has been most difficult to demonstrate; Penutian is somewhat less controversial.
There is evidence suggestive that speakers of the Chumashan languages and Yukian languages, and possibly languages of southern Baja California such as Waikuri, were in California prior to the arrival of Penutian languages from the north and Uto-Aztecan from the east, perhaps predating even the Hokan languages.
Wiyot and Yurok are distantly related to Algonquian languages in a larger grouping called Algic.
The several Athapaskan languages are relatively recent arrivals, no more recent than about 2000 years ago. Ahlers writes that there are "ideologies on the deployment of silence as a salient attribute of women's speech in contexts which are framed as traditional and closely tied to Native California languages of heritage." The size of California tribes today are small compared to tribes in other regions of the United States.
Prior to contact with Europeans, the California region contained the highest Native American population density north of what is now Mexico.
Due to the local abundance of food, tribes never developed agriculture or tilled the soil.
Two early southern California cultural traditions include the La Jolla Complex and the Pauma Complex, both dating from ca. From 3000 to 2000 BCE, regional diversity developed, with the peoples making fine-tuned adaptations to local environments.