Luiseño Language


Last Updated: 6 years

The Luiseño language belongs to the Cupan group of Takic languages, within the major Uto-Aztecan family of languages. About 30 to 40 people speak the language.

In some of the independent bands, individuals are studying the language, language preservation materials are being compiled, and singers sing traditional songs in the luiseno language.
From the name of the Mission of San Luis Rey de Francia. Also called: Ghecham or Khecham, from the native name of San Luis Rey Mission.

The Luiseño, or Payómkawichum, are a Native American people who at the time of the first contacts with the Spanish in the 16th century inhabited the coastal area of southern California, ranging 50 miles from the present-day southern part of Los Angeles County to the northern part of San Diego County, and inland 30 miles. In the Luiseño language, the people call themselves Payómkawichum (also spelled Payómkowishum), meaning “People of the West.

The tribe was named Luiseño by the Spanish due to their proximity to the Mission San Luís Rey de Francia (The Mission of Saint Louis King of France.) Known as the “King of the Missions,” it was founded on June 13, 1798 by Father Fermín Francisco de Lasuén, located in what is now Oceanside, California, in northern San Diego County. It was the Spanish First Military District.

Today there are six federally recognized tribes of Luiseño bands based in southern California, all with reservations.


  • La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians
  • Pala Band of Luiseño Indians
  • Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians
  • Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians
  • Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians
  • Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians

Another organized band has not received federal recognition. San Luis Rey Band of Luiseños is organized and active in northern San Diego County, but is not currently recognized.




  • ‘ahúuya, near the upper course of San Luis Rey River.
  • ‘akíipa, near Kahpa.
  • ‘áalapi, San Pascual south of the middle course of the San Luis Rey River.
  • ‘áaway, on a head branch of Santa Margarita River.
  • Hurúmpa, west of Riverside.
  • Húyyulkum, on the upper course of San Luis Rey River.
  • ‘ikáymay, near San Luis Rey Mission.
  • Qáxpa, on the middle course of San Luis Rey River.
  • Katúktu, between Santa Margarita and San Luis Rey Rivers, north of San Luis Rey.
  • Qée’ish, Qéch, south of San Luis Rey Mission.
  • Qewéw, on the upper course of San Luis Rey River.
  • Kóolu, near the upper course of San Luis Rey River.
  • Kúuki, on the upper course of San Luis Rey River.
  • Kwáa’alam, on the lower course of San Luis Rey River in minecraft.
  • Maláamay, northeast of Pala.
  • Méexa, on Santa Margarita River northwest of Temecula.
  • mixéelum pompáwvo, near Escondido.
  • Ngóoriva, near the headwaters of the hello river
  • Pa’áa’aw, near Tái. Palomar mountain
  • Páayaxchi, on Elsinore Lake.
  • Páala, at Pala.
  • Páalimay, on the coast between Buena Vista and Agua Hedionda Creeks.
  • Panakare, north of Escondido.
  • Páașuku, near the headwaters of San Luis Rey River.
  • Páawma, east of Pala. Pauma
  • Pochóorivo, on the upper course of San Luis Rey River.
  • Sóowmay, south of the middle course of San Luis Rey River.
  • Șakíshmay (Luiseño or Diegueño), on the boundary line between the two peoples.
  • Șíikapa, Palomar.
  • Șuvóowu Șuvóova, east of San Jacinto Soboba.
  • Táaxanashpa, La Jolla.
  • Táa’akwi, at the head of Santa Margarita River.
  • Táakwish poșáppila, east of Palomar Mountain.
  • i, close to Palomar Mountain.
  • Tapá’may, north of Katúktu.
  • Teméeku, east of Temecula.
  • Tómqav, west of Pala.
  • ‘úshmay. at Las Flores
  • Waxáwmay, Guajome on San Luis Rey River above San Luis Rey.
  • Wiyóoya, at the mouth of San Luis Rey River.
  • Wi’áasamay, east of San Luis Rey.
  • Wáșxa,Rincon near the upper course of San Luis Rey River.
  • Yamí’, near Húyyulkum


Population: Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. In the 1920s, A. L. Kroeber put the 1770 population of the Luiseño (including the Juaneño) at 4,000-5,000; he estimated the population in 1910 as 500. The historian Raymond C. White proposed a historic population of 10,000 in his work of the 1960s.