The Yokuts (at one time also known as Mariposans) are an ethnic group of Native Americans native to inland central California. Before the arrival of Europeans (pre-contact), the Yokuts consisted of up to 60 separate tribes speaking the same language. Some of their descendants prefer to refer to themselves by their respective tribal names and reject the name Yokuts with the claim that it is an exonym invented by English speaking settlers and historians. Conventional subgroupings include the Foothill Yokuts and the Valley Yokuts. Yokuts tribes populated the San Joaquin Valley from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta ("the delta") south to Bakersfield and also the adjacent foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, which lies to the east. In the northern half of the Yokuts region, there were some tribes inhabiting the foothills of the Coast Range, which lies to the west. There is evidence of Yokuts also inhabiting the Carrizo Plain and creating rock art in the Painted Rock area.
The numbers of Foothill Yokuts were reduced by around 93% between 1850 and 1900. A few Valley Yokuts remain, the most prominent tribe among them being the Tachi. Only a few Yokuts tribes have been federally recognized.
Estimates for the pre-contact populations of most native groups in California have varied substantially. (See Population of Native California.) Alfred L. Kroeber in 1925 put the 1770 population of the Yokuts at 18,000. Several subsequent investigators suggested that the total should be substantially higher Robert F. Heizer and Albert B. Elsasser 1980 suggested that the Yokuts had numbered about 70,000.
Kroeber estimated the population of the Yokuts in 1910 as 600.
Yokuts are known to have engaged in trading with other California tribes of Native Americans including coastal peoples such as the Chumash of the Central California coast, with whom they are thought to have traded plant and animal products.