The Awaswas people (also known as Santa Cruz) are one of eight divisions of the Ohlone (Coastanoan) Native Americans of Northern California. The Awaswas lived in the Santa Cruz Mountains and along the coast of present-day Santa Cruz County from present-day Davenport to Aptos.
Awaswas (Santa Cruz) is also the name of their spoken dialect, listed as one of the Costanoan language dialects in the Utian family, becoming the main language spoken at the Mission Santa Cruz. However, there is evidence that this grouping was more geographic than linguistic, and that the records of the 'Santa Cruz Costanoan' language in fact represent several diverse dialects.
The Awaswas territory was bordered by the Pacific Ocean to the west, and other Ohlone people on all other sides: the Ramaytush to the north, Tamyen to the east, and the Mutsun and Rumsien to the south.
During the era of Spanish missions in California, the Awaswas people's lives changed with the Mission Santa Cruz (founded in 1791) built in their territory. Most moved into this mission and were baptized, lived and educated to be Catholic neophytes, also known as Mission Indians, until the missions were discontinued by the Mexican Government in 1834.
The villages included the Sokel, who lived at Aptos, and the Chatu-mu, who lived near the current location of Santa Cruz.