Cal Poly sits on the traditional lands of the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe of San Luis Obispo County and Region. The yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini have a documented presence in this area for over 10,000 years. The tiłhini peoples have stewarded their ancestral and unceded homelands which include all of the cities, communities, federal and state open spaces within the San Luis Obispo County region. These homelands extend East into the Carrizo Plains toward Kern County, South to the Santa Maria River, North to Ragged Point, and West beyond the ocean’s shoreline in an unbroken chain of lineage, kinship, and culture.
In recognition of the Indigenous peoples of San Luis Obispo, Cal Poly proudly named its newest residential community, yakʔitʸutʸu, which means “our community” in the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash language.
Dedicated in honor of Cal Poly’s relationship with the Northern Chumash, this student housing complex — which opened in 2018 — features seven residential halls named after yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash villages throughout the Central Coast region.
The yakʔitʸutʸu Residential Community was recently recognized with Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification for being inclusive, healthy, efficent and home to cost-saving green building features.
Together, the university and Indigenous people of San Luis Obispo will educate future generations of Cal Poly students and local residents.
Building Names and Meanings
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|Tribe Name | yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini||The people of tiłhini|
|Housing Complex Name | yakʔitʸutʸu||Our community|
|Building 172A | tsɨtkawayu||Cambria||Place of the horses|
|Building 172B | elewexe||Paso Robles||Named for swordfish|
|Building 172D | tšɨłkukunɨtš||Carrizo Plain||Place of the rabbits|
|Building 172C | tiłhini||San Luis Obispo
|Place of the full moon|
|Building 172F | tsɨtqawɨ||Morro Bay||Place of the dogs|
|Building 172E | nipumuʔ||Nipomo||Place of the big house|
|Building 172G | tsɨtpxatu||Avila Beach||Place of the whales|
Cal Poly is situated within yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash homelands. The yak titʸu titʸu people are Indigenous to the San Luis Obispo region. They have lived in areas from Ragged Point to Carrizo Plain, Santa Maria to Morro Bay, since time immemorial and into the present.
Cal Poly, as a public institution, has the responsibility to acknowledge their presence and educate the community as a whole. As these places and villages have and always will be sites of relationship and exchange, naming the residence halls after the original Northern Chumash villages re-centers ongoing Indigenous experiences as a first step towards acknowledging this responsibility and developing partnerships across communities of students, faculty, staff, and neighbors on the Cal Poly campus and beyond.
Celebrating the Northern Chumash
- Village Narratives written by yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini Northern Chumash Tribe.
At first glance, the names of our newest housing community might look and sound a little unfamiliar. They’re actually written in Northern Chumash, and they incorporate some characters you might not have written before and some sounds you might not have used before. That’s okay! As any language-learner can tell you, it takes practice before you can wrap your tongue around new words—and even more practice before you can say those words with confidence.
Before you come to Cal Poly, take some time to get familiar with the names of this community and explore their meanings. Here are some resources to get you started:
- Hear pronunciations via the Cal Poly Now App
- Video: Hear Pronunciations, modern locations and meanings
- Video: An in-depth look at the pronunciations
- Alphabet (PDF): learn the Chumash letters and how to say them
- Map (PDF) practice worksheet
- Map (PDF) with names and meanings
- Keyboard Installation for Mac and PC
We’re proud to celebrate the Northern Chumash — their history, their rich culture, and their deep connection to this land. The naming of the buildings was decided in collaboration with the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini tribal project team. We’re grateful to all the partners—both on campus and off—who worked so hard over the years to take the yakʔitʸutʸu housing community from a concept to a home for nearly 1,500 first-year Cal Poly students:
- yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini tribal project team
- Northern Chumash Tribal Council
- California Indian Education Association
- University Housing
- American Indian and Indigenous Faculty Staff Association
- American Indian Student Association
- Inter Housing Council
- Council Cross Cultural Centers
- Office of the President Vice President for Student Affairs
Learn the story behind the "Rooted in Native Knowledge" Mural which now permanently resides in the yakʔitʸutʸu Native & Indigenous Cultural Center on campus.
Green Building Features
Cal Poly incorporated many green building features into this project with consultation from the yak titʸu titʸu yak tiłhini tribal team.