OF REDLANDS, CALIFORNIA  - Founded 24 January 1895



George R. Momyer

California, South of the Tehachipi mountains, held a considerable population of Indians when the white man first came, a population that for the most part lived off the country., building little of permanence, faraging for food as do the birds and wild animals. Along the Colorado river and along the Santa Barbara channel there were exceptions.

California had an estimated Indian population of 150/000 when the white man came. That has dwindled .:to . approximately 1000 at the present time, a ratio of ten to one. The population held its own during mission days but later suffered tremendous losses through small pox and syphilis and other diseases of-the white man. Today a small fraction of the original number are found in small reservations familiar to most of us, such as El Manual, Morongo Ague. Calient Fort Mojave,-Chemehmeve, Colorado river., Soboba, Coahuilla, Santa Rosa, Los Coyotes, Potrero., Santa Ysabel, and so on.

The population has always been scattered. When Garces in 1775 and 1775 met the Indians in his extensive travels from the coast to the Colorado-river, he referred to them as living in rancheros.. a Spanish word meaning a collection of huts. There were powerful tribes on the Colorado, the Mojaves, and the Yumas, and somewhat less powerful tribes on the coast, but in interior Southern California,`-!small, very loosely organized groups were the rule. This lack of cohesion end organization made it easy for the Spaniards to establish successful missions with small necessity for protection by soldiers.

September 29,1542, Cabrillo gave shirts to-two naked Indian boys in the harbor of San Diego and sent them back to their folks. Everywhere the white man went he gave presents to the Indians to secure their good will. On the other hand the Indians offered gifts of.their small stores to the strangers.

When Crespi and Portola, the first white men to make the overland trip from San Diego, North to San Gabriel, met the Indian bands along the way, the Indians brought baskets of chia, the food prized most highly by them and offered them to the Spaniards. The Spaniards did not think much of the Indian food, nutritious and palatable as it is, because they were not accustomed to it, but when one realizes the effort necessary to gather a basket full of chia from the hillsides, the gift is seen to be a generous one. In this trip North from San Diego, the Indian settlements were described as numbering forty to sixty persons in each. Possibly the Spaniards did not count some who were hiding in fear, but their estimates were seldom over conservative. In later years Garces described the Indian settlements of the upper Mojave, Santa Ana, and San--Joaquin valleys as small rancherias, twenty to forty persons in each.

One can easily picture some of the small settlements in our section. A notable village site is located a short distance East of Ramona Bowl, near Hemet. In one large rock are 37 mortar holes. Near by are other mortars, and no doubt in ancient times there were many portable mortars which now adorn the door steps of so many homes, and fill our museums, but altogether in this unusually extensive Hemet site, if every mortar were in use during a given season, a population not greater than a hundred and fifty would be indicated.

At the canyon Nest of Temecula there are three rocks with eight mortars in each; at Mockingbird canyon, South of Riverside, 17 mortars are to be found in the rocks that line the little stream. In Willow canyon North of Lake Arrowhead are three rocks with seven mortars each, Ordinarily the evidences of population are not greater than these, many times much less.

During the possibly 15,,000 years man appears to have lived in this territory, there have been many changes, migrations, etc. about which, as yet we know little. It seems tome that the Investigations at Gypsum cave near Las Vegas, and along the shore line of the Mojave sink, indicate that man was here when the Mojave sink was a great freshwater lake. Mark Harrington at Gypsum cave dug out together the bones of extinct animals along with the artifacts of primitive men. This has been done in several localities in the United States.


Along the Western edge of the Coachella valley are several hundred so-:called fish traps, Indian dwelling sites built there when the ancient Lake Cahuilla extended above Indio. In the Owens river valley are several hundred-similar structures, built like the fish traps along a shore line that is now far from water, because the ancient lakes of the Western country havebeen dry for centuries since these were built. Along the West coast of Southern California from Long Beach to San Diego are remains of piles of Abalone and clam and mussel shells where the Indians after eating the meat, cast the shells in heaps. Back from the                    present shore line five or six miles is another line of heaps of shells, where the Indians feasted and disposed of the shells when that was the western shore  

On Catalina island, the shell heaps lie at the edge of the water and are to be found again at considerable elevation a half mile or so back, indicating that th entire West coast, including the island of Catalina has been lifted since the earlier shell heaps were placed by the Indians. This conforms to the geological. record along the coast of the mainland. I do not see how one can avoid giving great antiquity to the occupation of our Southern California by human beings.

This brings us to the question as to the origin of this ancient population. Most authorities say the first of the Indians came from Asia by the Northern route before they had advanced beyond the stone age in Asia, and have been here so long that they have developed their own languages, customs., and civilization, their religion and traditions, which are not those of Asia. Some believe that an ancient continent in the middle of the Pacific was the bridge across which the scanty stream of migration flowed through the centuries until some great upheaval of nature destroyed the continent. Others believe that much of the migration has come from the South Seas, because of the favorable ocean currents that carry boats this way. Some would have us believe that the early arrivals came from both North and South, which seems reasonable, and that the high civilization the Indians reached in Central America. is the natural result of the mixing of blood of the two sources, making Central America the melting pot long before the Irish and Italians reached this land. Out of that melting pot, they claim, emerged the Incas, and the Aztec and the Mayan civilizations.

Our valleys and hills have been inhabited for along time previous to the coming of the white men. It is improbable that there has been any considerable impression upon this civilization from countries South of us. The archeologists and ethnologists give the Pueblos of Western America a place in the picture and it is probable that they were in touch with the cultures of Mexico at least. Ancient Indian trails lead from the Pueblo country to the Pacific. Near the Southwest tip of the Salton sea is a direction sign on such a trail. The Indians near Blythe told Garces in 1775 and 76 that they had a road to the Cahuillas and a road to the Serranos. He did not take their road but chose instead the Mojave trail, which was then an old , well established Indian trail to the coast. Garces was the first white man to travel it.

In Grapevine canyon near Hemet., and in Trabuco canyon near Santa Ana, some ancient race has carved similar inscriptions in solid granite. Such work is clearly beyond the ability of local Indians of historical times.

After the Pueblos, probably the Mojave Indians occupied this territory. I do not mean a specific Mojave tribe, but Indians of that blood, for the Mojave blood or family includes the Yumas and the San Dieguetos and the Indians of the upper portion of Lower California. Out of the North came what we in modern times call a population pressure of the Shoshonean tribes, squeezing in between the coast tribes and the Colorado river, edging the Mojaves and the Yumas, and the San Dieguetos off the beautiful interior valleys and mountains to their present locations. These portions of the great Shoshonean people include the              Paiutes, the Serranos, the Cahuillas and the mission tribes of San Gabriel, San Juan and the Luisenos, but do not include the San Dieguetos.

These tribes have not greatly changed their locations in historic times. The Mojaves and the Yumas still farm along the Colorado: as their ancestors did when they shared their watermelons and pumpkins with Garces. The Serranos are in reservations along the Southern base of the sane mountains they used to claim. The Luisenos are on reservations in the interior valleys I South of Riverside. Roughly speaking the center of Serrano territory was formerly Big Bear, the center of Cahuilla territory was formerly in the neighborhood of Santa Rosa, the center of Luiseno territory was in the neighborhood of Temecula. The Gabrielenos centered at San Gabriel; the Serranos extended as far East as twenty nine Palms, as far North as   Barstow, and as far South as Redlands. South of Riverside was Luiseno territory from the Hemet country to tka Ocean side.,East of Warners' Hot Springs and North to Salton Sea, over mountain and desert sprawled the Cahuilla gattag tribes, powerful in numbers, but not in cohesion, When Anzas mules brayed they threw away their rabbit sticks and betook themselves to the hills like wild sheep, and they were almost that, living as Anza found them, like wild animals in caves in the rocks, sans clothing, almost, sans bedding, and with the most primitive tools.

At the Fred Clark ranch in the Southern reach of the Cahuilla valley you can follow their trails into caves where there are broken fragments of pottery, and stacks of corn, the cobs remain to indicate their only agriculture. But even they had more agriculture than the Paiutes and the Serranos and the Luisenos, who lived farther. away from the Agricultural river tribes.

For clothing these tribes customarily wore very little clothingm a willow bark apron for the women, a breech clout for the men, children customarily naked, their elders often so. Some substituted for the adornment clothing is expected to give, tattooing and painting. A Mojave war chief painted for the war dance was a riot in colors such as the Pueblos have never achieved. The women painted their faces as well as their bodies.

When Chief Palma of the Yumas built rafts for Anzand his tribe ferried Anza and his men and provisions across the Colorado, the Indians swam --longside the rafts to steady them. The women worked just like the men in this, and the good priest Garces happened to look down at the painted face of the daughter of the chief as she swam along beside his raft. Garces did not like the paint and told her so. he asked her to wash it off. using the sign language to indicate the way. She indicated that it would be all right if he would do it, and he did.

The Serranos and Gahuillas were outstanding artiste in basketry, Professor Frye who for many years made his home in Redlands had a wonderful collection of Serrano baskets which he enjoyed showing and telling the stories their makers told him about the meaning of the designs on them. I basket which had a two inch center portion in the bottom   crudely done. The rest of the basket was beautifully made. Ire said that the Indian mother was teaching her daughter to weave her first basket. The daughter wove the easy bottom part and her mother finished the basket which was always thereby marked as the little girls first basket. The Serranos now have reservations at E1 Manuel near Highland, at Morongo,near Banning, and some are to be found in the reservations farther East. Mr. Gerald Smith who is an authority on the village sites of Southern California Indians, told me recently of a trip he made with some Serrano Indians from E1 Manuel to Big Bear to the 40 Pinon groves to pick pinon nuts. he told me that one oldwoman pointed out the place where they lived when the white men first came along and told them to move on. I asked Tom Whitecloud the other day if he would not enjoy working among his own people, his countrymen I called them. Cdr. Momyer, "We have no country," he replied.

Tom was right as respects California Indians, they have no country, or if they claim a small piece of it, it is apt to be barren end of little worth.

In their religion the Indians were very devout and very sincere, They recognized divinity in everything, sky. earth, trees, the wild animals, mountains.and canyons. In a vision or dream birds and trees and inanimate objects talked to them.

When an Indian wished to be alone to pray, he cleansed himself in a sweat house, a small closed shelter, in which a fire was built. When cleansed by perspiration he came out into the air for a dive.if possible, into a stream* After this a drink of Jimson weed tea made from the rank smelling weed with the big white flower that grows in our fields, was the material dreams were made of, and he climed, as a ru to the top of the highest hill to pray. To whom did he pray? To various spirits he, felt might help him, first probably to his totem spirit or to that of his tribe. I asked Antonio at the Saboba Indian reservation near Hemet, what his Indian name was. " La Chusa". he replied. "What does that mean? I asked. "It means white owl: I gave him a puzzled look for he is a very dark Indian.

" No,not me," he said, "my tribe." La Chusa, on top of the highest peak would possibly pray first       to the white owl which he believed to be invested with wisdom to cure his ills. Naturally he would never kill a white owl or eat its meat.

The San Timoteo tribe of the Serranos had for their totem the Wildcat, -ind the Yucaipa tribe had for their totem the Coyote. Many Serrano and also Luiseno tribes were similarly designated.

At March Field, the different air squadrons have their totem: painted on their hangars and  their aeroplanes. I noticed that one was the thunderbird and there were others derived from the Indians.

In the hills Southwest of March Field on the old Penny ranch are two caves where two bands of Indians once lived. Above the entrance of each cave in faded red colors is the totem of the tribe,

Southern California Indians practiced many interesting ceremonials. Most of these were held in a sort of courtyard made of rushes as they . are still made today. Among the ceremonies are the fire magic, the puberty ceremonial, cremation ceremonies, and many others suitable to the seasons and the state of mind of the Indians.

The puberty ceremonies are of particular Interest because the painted prints of 'the little girls' hands are still to be seen on the rocks near which the-girls were buried in warm sand during a period of deprivation and counselling.

Boys were counseled during the puberty period in a different way, but effectively. We have our ten commandments, local Indians had theirs. The Indian received careful instruction in the traditions and precepts of his ancestors.

Wars among Southern California Indian tries are mostly a matter of legend. They were naturally too kindly to care for strife and they were so situated that there was little cause for fighting. It is related that the Chia crop failed one summer in the Temecula valley and the Temeculas, sending out scouts, discovered that there was a good crop in the San Jacinto valley. They got all hands together and started North to harvest the Chia which normally belonged to the Sobob as. The Sobobas met them with hot resistance, whereupon the Temeculas drove them into a canyon on the North rim of the San Jacinto valley, Potrero creek near Gilman Hot Springs. The Sobobas contested every foot of the way until they were driven into a pocket created by a falls precipice. There was. no escape for them axed legend says the Temeculas exterminated the Sabobas in this way some centuries ago. The white man calls the place Massacre canyon because of the stories told by the Indians, but the Sobobas are still pretty numerous and active at their reservation near San -Jacinto, casting some doubts on the final results pictured by the Temeculas.

In 1862 a Paiute Indian lad was killed and his head was posted on the gateway of Los Flores ranch on the upper Mojave. The Paiutes gathered in force from the Vegas {Los Vegas) to avenge his death, coming in from the desert up Willow canyon to the present site of Lake Arrowhead, burning houses, killing stock, and threatening the lives of settlers. A force of pioneer settlers drove them back along snowy trails, killing many of the Paiutes and saving the mountain settlements from devastation. One of the participants of the fight, Mr. George Miller, still lives on his pioneer ranch near Highland. Showing the physical stamina of these Indians, he says the Indian warriors were stark naked except for a breech cloth and moccasins, and when they came off the desert into- the snow, they took off their moccasins and tied them up with their G string, preferring to walk in the snow with their bare feet. This is in contrast to Garces's Mojave guides who became so cold on the desert that Garces took off both his shirt and his undershirt for them to wear.

Southern California Indians had plenty,but they were kept fairly well occupied in gathering and storing their food. The acorn and manzanita berries were staple foods of the mountaun tribes. Chia, seed of a variety of sage, was prized from mountains to the coast. Pinion nuts were gathered in season. Seeds of many varieties of wild grasses were ground and mixed with water to make a gruel. The flesh of rabbits, wild fowl, and fish, was supplemented with that of frogs, lizards, and other small animals that we do not prize highly for food.

On the desert there was an abundance of food he screw bean mesquite and the honey bean mesquite cr6pa in Imperial valley alone halve been estimated sufficient to feed a population of 40 000 people, No reason for any one to starve in the desert if he knows what to eat. Lieutenant Willamson reports in 1862 on a trip through the Coachella valley, meeting an Indian family on the trail. Their only provision was a ball of honey mesquite which they carried on a stick. They offered him a share in it, but to his civilized taste it had passed the point where its taste honey and odor were satisfying. Scientists say that the/mesquite bean contains more than half its weight- of assimilative principles, 25 to 30 % of which is sugar. The screw bean is even sweeter than the honey mesquite and may be eaten directly from the tree.

The Cahuilla desert furnished not less than 60 distinct products used by the Indians as food and at least 25 more. utilized for narcotics, stimulants or medicines. On the desert a food supply for two years was kept in large ollas which were hidden in caves and rock crevices. In the Skerrano country, they nested these ollas as an eagle makes a nest, capping the olla with a rock to keep out the pack rats, and protecting it from thievery possibly with forked sticks known as spirit sticks. The fairy tale is that two or three spirit sticks(forked sticks) placed in front of each olla would keep thieves away, but am amore practical story is that the forked sticks were used to hang strips of meat and other food to keep it off the ground. However that may be, if you find a couple of forked sticks and trigs and leaves like an eagles' nest, keep on going, you may find an olla..

In the Redlands-Riverside territory, small seeds were very important for use as food. These wove gathered by women with a tool very much like a tennis racquet, brushing the seeds into a flat basket. The food supply was carried in a large conical basket suspended on the back with a net passing over the forehead. 'these nets were well made and resembled fish nets in their structure. The seeds were ground in             the mortars, mixed with water meat of and cooked either by boiling or baking. Acorns was ground, soaked in several changes of water to leach out bitterness, and formed a staple diet in this territory. Cabrillo said of the coast Indians, "They eat acorns and a grain which is as large as maize and is white, of which they make dumplings. It is good food."

The Serrano~ of course is a Spanish name for our mountain Indians. They called themselves Cow -ang- a- chem `The tribe living South of San Bernardino were called the Gauchamas, which uncle John Brown told me once, means land of plenty. Garces reported a rancheria near Ca Jon. There was one West of San Bernardino on the West side of Lytle Creek, tar. George Beattie, a member of the Fortnightly club in his interesting new book, California's Unbuilt Missions states that the Mission of San Gabriel ministered at one time to sixteen tribes of Indians to the North and East of San Bernardino. Indian sites South mast of San Bernardino just South of the cemetery in Redlands, on the road to Yucaipa and in many places in this section have been definitely located by Gerald Smith. The artifacts found on each site give some clews to the tribes occupying, the place.

The burial custom of Southern California tribes was originally cremation, but many have departed from that custom since the white man has come with his custom of burying the body. On Catalina island the bodies were first buried, then later taken up and burned. The Mojaves dig a trench a foot or so deep stack above it brush and logs, on which they place the body with the head to the Last. After certain ceremonials the fire is started, and amidst wild expressions of their grief including the throwing on the fire, articles of clothing, weapons, food, and whatever will sustain the soul of the departed one, the fire burns down to ashes which are collected in the hole, which is filled with dirt and smoothed over to hide all trace of the cremation. As the fire burns brightest swift Mojaves dart in and out about the fire to fool the evil spirits that would steal the departing soul. At his home, the house will possibly be burned and his ollas and cooking bowls will be broken so their spirits also may accompany him, as he will need them in the spirit land, which to the Mojave is not far away, but in a certain location on their own desert.

The artifacts of Southern California Indians are not as numerous as are those of tribes in other sections, Very few arrow points outside of the desert and many of them wooden. Crooked sticks known as rabbit sticks were handier and more effective. Many different types of worked stones, round stones with holes in them, cogged stones, mortars., pestiles,matates, arrow straighterers, basketry. ollas on the desert, chop stones hammer stones, carrying nets, pictographs. The San Fernandos ; made blankets and the channel Indians had large boats and made bone fish hooks. Excellent collections of California Indian artifacts are to be found in the Riverside museum, across the street South from the Mission Inn, the Santa Ana Memorial Museum, the Los Angeles County and the Southwest Museums in Los Angeles, the desert museum near Lancaster, and the desert museum near Twenty Nine Palms.

A visit to one of these museums will certainly tempt you to try to learn more about the kindly,nature loving, first Americans who once lived in these hills and loved them as we do.

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