Tamien people

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Tamyen map-01.svg
Map of historical Tamyen territory
Regions with significant populations
Santa Clara Valley, California
Tamyen language

The Tamien people (also spelled as Tamyen, Thamien) are one of eight linguistic divisions of the Ohlone (Costanoan) people groups of Native Americans who lived in Northern California. The Tamyen lived throughout the Santa Clara Valley. The use of the name Tamyen is on record as early as 1777, it comes from the Ohlone name for the location of the first Mission Santa Clara (Mission Santa Clara de Thamien) on the Guadalupe River. Father Pena mentioned in a letter to Junipero Serra that the area around the mission was called Thamien by the native people.[1] The missionary fathers erected the mission on January 17, 1777 at the native village of So-co-is-u-ka.

Lope Inigo, a Tamyen man who lived at Mission Santa Clara de Asís[2]


The Tamyen people spoke the Tamyen language, a Northern Ohlone language, which has been extinct since possibly the early 19th century. "Tamyen", also called Santa Clara Costanoan, has been extended to mean the Santa Clara Valley Indians, as well as for the language they spoke. Tamyen is listed as one of the Costanoan language dialects in the Utian family. It was the primary language that Natives spoke at the first and second Mission Santa Clara (both founded in 1777). Linguistically, it is thought that Chochenyo, Tamyen and Ramaytush were close dialects of a single language.


Tamyen territory extends over most of the present day Santa Clara County, California, and was bordered by other Ohlone people: Ramaytush to the northwest on the San Francisco Peninsula, Chochenyo to the northeast and east, Mutsun to the south, and the Awaswas to the southwest.

During the era of Spanish missions in California, the Tamyen's lives changed with the Mission Santa Clara, and later the Mission San José of Fremont (founded in 1797) built in their region. Most moved into one of these missions and were baptized, lived and educated to be Catholic neophytes, also known as Mission Indians, until the mission was discontinued by the Mexican Government in 1834. A large majority of the Tamyen died from disease in the missions.

Today, the Tamyen have joined with the other San Francisco Bay Area Ohlone people under the name of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe. The Muwekma Ohlone are currently petitioning for U.S. federal recognition.

Tribes and villages[edit]

The Tamyen (Tamien, Thamien) people are associated with the original site of Mission Santa Clara (Mission Santa Clara de Thamien) on the Guadalupe River, 1777. The entire Santa Clara Valley was populated with dozens of Tamien speaking villages, several on Coyote Creek.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ For Father Pena's letter, see Hylkema 1995:20; also indicated on a map by Kroeber 1925:465.
  2. ^ Chapman, Robin (2018-10-15). Historic Bay Area Visionaries. Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 9781439665503.


  • Kroeber, Alfred L. 1925. Handbook of the Indians of California. Washington, D.C: Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin No. 78. (map of villages, page 465)
  • Hylkema, Mark. "Tamien Station Archeological Project", published by Bean, Lowell John, editor, in The Ohlone: Past and Present Native Americans of the San Francisco Bay Region. Menlo Park, CA: Ballena Press Publication, 1994. ISBN 0-87919-129-5 (pages 249–270).
  • Hylkema, Mark. Archaeological Investigations at the Third Location of Mission Santa Clara De Assis: The Murguia Mission 1781-1818, 1995. Caltrans Report (CA-SCL-30/H).
  • Levy, Richard. 1978. Costanoan, in Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 8 (California). William C. Sturtevant, and Robert F. Heizer, eds. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution, 1978. ISBN 0-16-004578-9 / 0160045754, pages 485–495.
  • 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)
  • 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]