Long before the Spanish occupation in the Philippines, the area where the municipality of Tantangan is to be carved out is already populated. The area is located at the mouth of a big river called LUAYAN and empties its water into a very big lake. The inhabitants during those times were the Muslims, which are traced to the leadership of Sultan Kudarat who occupied the lakeshores and the B'laans who thrived into the mountainous hinterlands. As such, the leaders of the different "balangays" along the lake shores were called by their federal leader based in Luayan through the use of Kulitangtangan, a bell so enormous its ringing could be heard in quite a distance. This device latter served as the basis and origin of the name of the place as Tangtangan by the first Ilocano settlers from Luzon, which, in later years refined into Tantangan. As the years went by, the big lake shrunk and what remained is now the Buluan Lake. Subsequently, Luayan was depopulated as the inhabitants followed the shrinking of the lake and the B'laans remained in the mountainous hinterlands.
On the early 1920s, the first settlers from Luzon began to arrive in Mindanao. It is however in the year 1935 when the settlers led by then General Paulino Santos that the first recorded migrant of Tantangan was seen in the person of Juan Balite. He preferred to stay behind at Tantangan with the rest of the group (Ilocano Homeseekers Group) who went northward into what is now the province of Sultan Kudarat, Maguindanao and North Cotabato. With the news of bounty, relatives and friends of the settlers from Luzon and Visayas came to Mindanao in waves and in a very short period of time, development went into an unprecedented scale. Municipalities were created very fast and in 1952, the municipality of Tacurong was separated from Buluan. The people in the southern portion of Tacurong however craved for independence and in 1955, a petition for creation of a separate municipality out of it was made under the leadership of Antonio Caballero together with Enrico Gabo, Ludovico Bias, Armando Cocjin, Rosendo Balite and Amador Bello, Sr.. The petition however failed despite all documents were in order because then President Ramon Magsaysay died on a plane crash before he could sign the Executive Order creating the Municipality of Tantangan. A second attempt was made in 1960 by the group of Domingo Torres, Sr., Atty. Benjamin Fajardo, Atty. Bienvenido Eugenio, Amador Bello, Sr., and Alfredo Garingo who made representations before the Cotabato Provincial Board and made follow-up in Malacanang. It was a victorious move and in January 27, 1961, Executive Order Number 415, series of 1961 was signed by then President Carlos P. Garcia creating the Municipality of Tantangan out of the southern portion of the Municipality of Tacurong. President Carlos P. Garcia made proclamation of the municipality personally on August 8, 1961 who came to Tantangan amidst the thundering applause of the people gathered in the occasion.
With favorable conditions and the able leadership of the past and present leaders, the Municipality of Tantangan is fast growing with its role as the cereal (grain) producer of the province of South Cotabato.