The Inland Empire Indian tribes,
and most notably the Cahuilla, lost almost everything, to the coming of the white man, but now, the white man are the ones who lose to the Cahuilla.
The Cahuilla are a group of Native Americans that have inhabited California for more than 2000 years, originally covering an area of about 2,400 square miles.
Cahuilla legends suggest that when the Cahuilla first moved into the Coachella Valley a large body of water now called Lake Cahuilla was in existence.....They remember fishing from the sides of cliffs and hill sides (The Palm Springs Area),This also supports the Spanish who claimed that they sailed up through the southern desert from the Gulf of California as far north as Yuma and even into the lower Coachella Valley.....Fed by the Colorado River, it dried up sometime before the 1700's, following another shift in the river's course......In 1905 a break in a levee created the much smaller Salton Sea in the same location.
Their language is of the Uto-Aztecan family.....In 1990 it was found that only 35 speakers in an ethnic population of 800 that still survive today spoke this language....This means that when the current older people who still speak it die in the next few years, there language will die with them.
A smallpox epidemic in 1863 severely reduced the native population, which had been reported as 3,238 in 1860 but only 1,181 in 1865.....It was estimated by US Census takers that in 1910 there were 800 Cahuilla.....The U.S. Bureau of the Census for 1970 gave a figure of 1,629.
The Cahuilla have intermarried with non-Cahuillas for the past century and a high percentage of today's Cahuilla tribal members have some degree of white Anglo and/or Hispanic ancestry, but qualified for official tribal membership in accordance to its' rules.....This is because most west coast Mexican peoples are Aztec by birth....In Mexico City and the East of Mexico, the Mexican people are Castilian, or rather of Spanish heritage, from Spain.
The first encounter with Europeans was in 1774 when Juan Bautista de Anza was looking for a trade route between Sonora, Mexico and Monterey, California....He sailed his ships up from Baja via the Gulf of California into the southern deserts.... Living far inland, Cahuillas had little contact with Spanish soldiers or European civilians and Priests, many of whom saw the desert as having little or no value but rather a place to avoid.....They learned of Mission life from Indians living close to Missions in San Gabriel and San Diego.de Anza and his ships were the first White man these people had ever seen.
The Cahuilla first came in contact with Anglo/Americans in the 1840s.....Juan Antonio, leader of the Cahuilla's, gave traveler Daniel Sexton access to areas near the San Gorgonio Pass in 1842, allowing him to traverse the area that is now known as Banning and Beaumont......The Cahuilla's also let a U.S. Army expedition led by then Lieutenant Edward Fitzgerald Beale, defending the Sexton party against attacks by Ute warriors pass through unhindered
During the 1850s, unfortunally, the Cahuilla's willingly to trust and mingle with Gold Seekers, and others led to there downfall.....The onslaught of Eastern miners, ranchers and Mexican outlaws, groups of Mormon colonists, and land speculators encroaching on their villages, their women and lands forced the Cahuilla's to seek out neighboring tribes, to join forces with them in an attempt to drive out the white man....The Cahuilla's and the Cupeno's tribes the two remaining largest tribes joined forces and began attacks against the intruding settlers, especially the Mormons and Spanish, who they felt has exploited the tribes the most.
After California became a state the US government sent troops to the west to quell the Indian up risings.....The government along with the railroad eventually squeezed the Cahuilla's out of their traditional lands onto small Indian Reservations.....The US government in an effort to entice the railroads to build through the Banning Pass, established reservation boundaries and divided the desert areas where only the Indians lived into one mile square patches, which in the 20 century proved to be a great assets to the Cahuilla's.....One former Cahuilla village, Tekwite (Tikwit) located near a natural hot spring was turned into a railroad station and the present-day town of Indio, California.....The Cahuilla still have the 9 original reservations in Southern California set aside by the Federal Government.....They are Agua Caliente, Augustine, Cabazon, Cahuilla, Los Coyotes, Morongo, Ramona, Santa Rosa, and Torres Martinez.....Today, Most of them have Casino's on them.....Today's Cahuilla's reap the windfall of a ravenous white man eager to gamble away his life's savings at a Federal Authorized Casino....My, how fortunes have changed.
Also, the Cahullia's play an important political role in many of the cities located in the Coachella Valley....In Palm Springs, Coachella, Cathedral City, and Rancho Mirage the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is an major player in the local economy, operating an array of business enterprises, including land leasing, hotel and casino operations, and banking.....And since they own every other one mile square of these cities, they can dictate who builds and who doesn't....It was 40 years before McDonalds was allowed to build in Palm Springs, simply because the tribal elders felt the arches were not something they partially cared about....As a compromise, the company was allowed to build a store, late in 2005, but the arches had to be encased within another banner....The company acquiesced to the Cahuilla's....The Agua Caliente Indian Reservation occupies 48 square miles in the Palm Springs area, including parts of the cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City, and Rancho Mirage.....All in one mile squares
The Cahullia's Morongo Band of Mission Indians operates the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa as well as the Hadley Fruit Orchards in Cabazon......The Morongo Casino is one of the largest Indian casinos in the United States.....So the next time you are on your way out to the desert and you go by the Morongo Casino, just remember, 'what goes around comes' around as they say...We tried to get rid of the Cahuilla's to steal there lands....Now the Cahuilla's do the same to us, except they use chips, not guns.
And it seems to be working doesn't it.
Gary Hall the ghostpainter