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The Lamchin[1] were one of many tribes of the Ohlone (Coastanoan) people, Native Americans who lived along the San Francisco Peninsula. The Lamchin were the native inhabitants of what is now San Carlos, California. Information is sparse and dispersed, coming mostly from Spanish mission records - as the natives had no written language. The collected information follows over 100 years of research by many noted historians. The Lamchin are believed to be extinct - as historical, statistical and limited written accounts would seem to indicate.

Their north-western neighbors were the Ssalson, to the south the Suchihín, and to the east the Puichon, respectively in present-day Belmont, California, the southern end of Crystal Springs Reservoir, and Redwood City, California.[2] All the groups are considered part of the Ohlone (or Costanoan) language group. The Ohlone group language has been labeled Utian.

The Lamchin may have had two villages named Ormostac, close to the Ssalson and Cachanigtac, their main village in what is now directly south of the downtown San Carlos. The main village name appears to contain a word for vermin, which the Spanish missionaries translated as las Pulgas (the Fleas). The names still lives on as Alameda de las Pulgas, a local main thoroughfare connecting peninsula towns along the feet of the foothills.

The first native inhabitants were baptized in the missions around 1779, and last around 1790.

Differences in spelling[edit]

It bears repeating that the Spanish mission records are fuzzy and sparse. Spelling differs on many entries for the same word, as the missionaries were trying to write with reference to their native language. We, in turn, re-write to our phonetic references and language. As such, authorities on this subject differ in spelling.

Currently only Milliken (1995) and Brown (1973) cover Lamchin material sufficiently for reference. The table below gives a few of the (currently) known spellings, with Milliken getting preference.

Milliken (1995) Brown (1973)
Lamchin Lamshín
Ormostac Wuloisnístac
Cachanigtac Cachaníhtac


  1. ^ Except for spelling Browns' material is the source.
  2. ^ On this point Milliken and Brown differ as to the boundaries. Brown as a local historian gets the preference. But it should be noted Milliken uses the same Brown reference.


  • Brown, Alan K. Indians of San Mateo County, La Peninsula:Journal of the San Mateo County Historical Association, Vol. XVII No. 4, Winter 1973-1974.
  • Brown, Alan K. Place Names of San Mateo County, published San Mateo County Historical Association, 1975.
  • Milliken, Randall. A Time of Little Choice: The Disintegration of Tribal Culture in the San Francisco Bay Area 1769-1910 Menlo Park, CA: Ballena Press Publication, 1995. ISBN 0-87919-132-5 (alk. paper)

Additional reading[edit]

  • Cook, Sherburne F. The Population of the California Indians, 1769-1970. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, June 1976. ISBN 0-520-02923-2.
  • Teixeira, Lauren. The Costanoan/Ohlone Indians of the San Francisco and Monterey Bay Area, A Research Guide. Menlo Park, CA: Ballena Press Publication, 1997. ISBN 0-87919-141-4.

External links[edit]