Suzanne Pierce Taylor is a Salinan Indian Edler whose writings include a book entitled The Ancestors Speak. She has ties to several California missions, especially Mission San Antonio de Padua, and has been working for many years as a genealogist tracing family trees of Salinans to assist her tribe in its effort to gain federal recognition.
Could you tell us about the ancestral homeland of the Salinan Indians? Which area does it cover, and how many Salinans live there today?
The Tribal boundary south is Cuesta Grade, west to Pacific ocean, (we share Morro Rock with the Chumash as a sacred place), north to Dolan Rock below Big Sur, eastward below Soledad, then southeast to Painted Rock on the Carrizo Plains.
We did a count that showed over 80% of Tribal members live either in or within 70 miles of the homeland.
How long have the Salinan people been on this land? And how many different groups exist now within the tribe?
Scholars say that the Salinan people have been in the area 6,000 years and belong to the Hokan language group, one of the oldest in California. The Salinan language was divided into three dialects: Antoniano, around Mission San Antonio. Migueleno around Mission San Miguel and Playano spoken on the coast. These three, even though different, shared the same Hokan base so communicated easily.