City of Cypress

5700 Orange Avenue ~ Cypress, CA 90630 ~ 714-229-6780

The First Inhabitants

The first Californians were Native Americans who lived in small villages known as rancherias and it is reasonable to assume that they found the area to be a profitable hunting ground. Native Americans of the area mainly ate grasses, herbs, roots, berries, nuts, or trapped small animals.

As Cypress was a lush grassland fed by numerous artesian wells, one can easily envision roving bands of Gabrielinos, the dominant tribe in the area, foraging for the abundant food found in the region. The shelters of these early inhabitants of Cypress and of the area were made in a conical shape of poles covered by thatched grass or fibers.

The first Californians were as scantily clad as contemporary dwellers of summertime Southern California. The women wore short shirts or petticoats of two pieces. The men usually went naked, although some did wear a breechcloth of bark or skin wrapped around the waist. In cooler weather, both sexes wore robes, usually made of rabbit skin, and they mainly went barefoot, although sandals sometimes were worn.

The only mission in Orange County was at San Juan Capistrano and influenced the lives of only a small percentage of the natives in the area. The dominant Native American group in Cypress were the Gabrielinos. However, recent evidence indicates that other natives did make an intrusion, possibly out of a desire to share the abundant food the area possessed.

In 1965, while excavating for the Cypress Library, (now the Boys and Girls Club), a 400-year old skeleton of a Chumash tribe member was uncovered. Similar findings were made at about the same time in Buena Park and in Long Beach. These Native Americans used plank canoes, waterproofed with brea (tar), to fish along the coast from Santa Barbara southward and among the Channel Islands. These discoveries have prompted experts to theorize that the Chumash may have frequented the old Los Coyotes drainage channel on inland hunting trips.

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The preceding history is from the News-Enterprise Archives, written by Eileen Wheeler and Dr. Warren Beck. It is reprinted here with permission.