Before Spanish colonization, many tribes lived in villages. These villages were comparatively small (often between 50-200 persons) and were composed of their own sovereign governments with territory, laws, dispute resolution, control over the legitimate use of force, and hereditary leadership vested in individuals.
Traditionally, Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians had patrilineal, patrilocal, and exogamous lineages with various lineages that intermarried for strategic economic and political ends and formed a coalition of social, economic, and ceremonial cooperation. Language did not determine political or national organization, nor marriage patterns, or ceremonial exclusivity, or right to territory or political organization or political leadership. The ties extended not only to other lineages of the same linguistic group, but also to other lineages in the region, where social, ceremonial and associated economic exchanges and gift giving were essential ways to maintain access to regional foods and materials.