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Prior to the arrival of Spanish soldiers, missionaries and colonists in the late 18th century, Santa Cruz County was home to the Awaswas Natives.The misnomer Ohlone, while often used to describe the native people of the Santa Cruz area, is a generalized name for the many diverse groups that lived in the region stretching from San Francisco to the Monterey Bay.; Spanish for Holy Cross) is the county seat and largest city of Santa Cruz County, California. Situated on the northern edge of Monterey Bay, about 32 mi (51 km) south of San Jose and 75 mi (120 km) south of San Francisco, the city is part of the 12-county San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland Combined Statistical Area. Census Bureau estimated Santa Cruz's population at 64,725.The new name didn't catch on and Santa Cruz remained Santa Cruz.Mission farming and grazing lands, which once extended from the San Lorenzo River north along the coast to approximately today's Santa Cruz County border, were taken away and broken up into large land grants called ranchos.After secularization put most California land into private hands, immigrants from the United States began to arrive in steadily increasing numbers, especially in the 1840s when overland routes like the California Trail were opened. California was the first portion of the territory to become a state, in 1850.
Today, two of the Coastanoan tribes, the Awaswa people 'missionized' in Santa Cruz and the Mutsun people 'missionized' at San Juan Bautista, have joined together as the Amah Mutsan Tribal Band in an effort to protect and maintain the authentic and distinct cultural history and practices.
Awaswa was one of the eight Costanoan languages and made up a tribe of Native Americas living in Western Santa Cruz County, stretching slightly north of Davenport to Rio Del Mar.
The Awaswas tribe was made up of no more than one thousand people and their language is now extinct.
It was named "El Arroyo de la Santisima Cruz, which translates literally as "The Stream of the Most Holy Cross").
In 1791, Father Fermín Lasuén continued the use of Crespi's name when he declared the establishment of La Misión de la Exaltación de la Santa Cruz (also known as Mission Santa Cruz) for the conversion of the Awaswas of Chatu-Mu and surrounding Ohlone villages.