Coso people

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Coso petroglyphs
Coso sheep

The Coso people are an indigenous people of the Americas and Native American tribe associated with the Coso Range in the Mojave Desert of California in the southwestern United States. They are of the Uto-Aztecan language and spoke one of several Numic languages, related to that of the Northern Paiute.

They are especially known for their ancient petroglyphs, or rock art drawings. The Coso Rock Art District of California has been designated as a National Historic Landmark District.[1]


Archaeological evidence substantiates trade between the Coso People and other Native American tribes. For example, they traded with the Chumash people, then located in present-day Ventura, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo counties. This was confirmed by archaeological recovery of a kind of obsidian, which has been chemically fingerprinted as belonging to the Coso culture and territory, but was discovered in coastal California prehistoric sites in San Luis Obispo County, California.[2]

The Coso People are usually considered part of the Northern Paiute indigenous nation.[3]


Notable rock art drawings, petroglyphs, are abundantly represented in Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons. Such works have been found in the Coso Rock Art District, and throughout the Coso Region, dating from the prehistoric era.[4][5]

In 1964, the Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons were declared a National Historic Landmark. In 2001, they were incorporated into a larger National Historic Landmark District, called the Coso Rock Art District.

In 2014, an annual celebration was created in honor of the petroglyphs. The Ridgecrest Petroglyph Festival takes place in Ridgecrest, California, and was named one of the "10 Most Unique Autumn Festivals in the Country" by Groupon.[6] The festival includes an intertribal powwow, street fair, and tours to the Big and Little Petroglyph Canyons.

See also[edit]

Petroglyphs Tour Info[edit]

Note: only U.S. citizens are allowed on the tours, and advance reservation is required. [7]
  • Maturango Museum, 100 E. Las Flores Ave., Ridgecrest, CA 93555; (760) 375-6900, [
  • Naval Air Weapons Station, (760) 939-1683.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  2. ^ C. Michael Hogan. 2008.
  3. ^ C.Michael Hogan (2008) Morro Creek, The Megalithic Portal, ed. by A. Burnham [1]
  4. ^ Campbell Grant, James W. Baird and J. Kenneth Pringle. 1968
  5. ^ "Coso Rock Art District". National Historic Landmark Quicklinks. National Park Service. Archived from the original on 8 October 2012. Retrieved 20 March 2012. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Fall Festivals: The 10 Most Unusual Fests Across the Country". Groupon. Retrieved 2015-09-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ Susan Spano (2007-11-15). "10. Mojave Art on the Rocks, in "THE GOLDEN 15: 15 places to visit to see the real California"". Los Angeles Times.