Explore California: Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park | Cal Parks

Explore California: Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park

Published: March 19, 2020

Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park

A mysterious landmark in the California desert.

Near the central valley city of Tehachapi in a region called Sand Canyon lies a piece of land where time stands still. This land is the historic seasonal home of the Kawaiisu people, who have lived in the area for roughly 1500 years.

Kawaiisu People

Tomo-Kahni means “winter home” in the Kawaiisu language, and it was used as a shelter during the winter months due to its permanent spring.

The Kawaiisu people were hunter-gatherers, who relied on the land to meet all their needs. They stockpiled materials and supplies during the spring and summer in preparation for the colder weather.

During the winter months, the Kawaiisu would pass time by retelling legends, working on baskets and other textiles, and playing games.

As time went on and America moved west, the Kawaiisu way of life was disrupted by the water industry as people rushed to move water to the City of Los Angeles. As industry began to pop up around the region, the Kawaiisu began to take jobs in factories and other plants.

In the mid-1900s, many archaeologists and tribal elders continued to frequent Tomo-Kahni, excavating artifacts and other historic pieces. In 1993, tribal elders and the state of California agreed to protect the land as Tomo-Kahni State Historic Park.

Things to do

Tomo-Kahni is an extremely sensitive site and is only accessible via guided tour, leaving from the Tehachapi Museum at 310 S. Green St., Tehachapi. Tours start at 8:30am every weekend in the spring and fall.


All images in this story are from Flickr user 9k317