The Cochimí lived in the central part of the Baja California peninsula. Their language was closely related to that of the Kumeyaay. The Cochimí were hunter-gatherers, who had not discovered the advantages of agriculture. They lived mainly on rabbits, kangaroo rats, raccoons, porcupines, skunks, lizards, squirrels, prickly pear cacti, and saguaro cactus fruit, seeds and flowers.

According to the authors of The Natural World of the California Indians (1980): "These groups probably had the least developed material culture in North America, and their territories, which were among the largest in the state, were at the same time the most sparsely populated. We can still see a direct parallel in the human response to this desert region, where today the largest countries and the smallest populations of California occur."

Junipero Serra, a Franciscan missionary, meet these people for the first time in May, 1769. He was amazed that they were able to survive in the conditions. There was little water and virtually no arable land or pasture. Serra and his fellow missionaries established the Misión San Fernando Rey de España de Velicatá. They made limited progress in converting them to Christianity and they suffered terribly from epidemics of diseases brought from Europe. The Cochimí population declined and became extinct in the 19th century.