Though not a pioneer or a permanent resident, John Harrington (1884 - 1961) was a Smithsonian Institute linguist and ethnohistorian, renowned locally and worldwide for his efforts in studying and preserving Native American cultures. In total, he collected data and information on 90 different Native American languages.
This is ultimately what brought Harrington to Lancaster. While in Lancaster to study some of the local Native American tribes, Mr. Harrington stayed extensively at the Western Hotel, beginning at around 1916.
Harrington dedicated significant time and effort to the ethnographic study of the local Kitanemuk and Serrano tribes, especially regarding their linguistic practices. His efforts still continue to contribute to the preservation of these dialects, protecting aspects of such cultural heritage that would otherwise be lost in time, as is, unfortunately, the reality for many Native American tribes and other indigenous groups throughout the world.
Much of what we know about these tribes today stem from the research that Harrington did in the area, with his ethnographic and linguistic studies offering an important and direct look into the lifestyles and practices of the local Kitanemuk and Serrano people.
"Gurba, Norma H. Legendary Locals of the Antelope Valley. Arcadia, 2013.
Photo courtesy of MOAH Collections"