Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians

Mailing Address

66725 Martinez Rd
Thermal, CA 92274

Contact Information

760-397-0300

Website

http://www.torresmartinez.org/

Casino(s)

Cultural History

Takic-speaking people, commonly known as Cahuilla tribe, reside in Southern California or what is now called Riverside and San Diego counties. Most of the Cahuilla peoples live on reservations located in Cahuilla, Agua Caliente, Santa Rosa, Torres-Martinez, Cabazon, Morongo, Los Coyotes, Ramona, and Saboba. After the conflict with local and federal authorities on 1870, they established these reservations. Twenty-four hundred is the present number of Cahuilla people. Before the European conquest, their number rose between six thousand to ten thousand people. That was when they were able to intrude the Riverside County and the north part of San Diego County.

Among this group of Takic-speaking people, they have been divided into almost a dozen independent clans. Each clan contains five hundred to twelve hundred people. They are controlling separate territories and they also have their own political rules. Each clan is different from the others when it comes to dialects.  

In some epic poems and historical accounts, community beliefs are being narrated. They state the proper behavior of the believer and also state the sacred history of their clan. They try to reinforce their beliefs yearly through showing their song cycle to the mass of people. Nukil ceremonies are the most important parts of their gathering because those ceremonies include the honorary of the dead members of the clan from the day the last ritual has been done.

The beliefs of the Cahuilla include the creation of the world by their god Mukat. They say that the value on cosmology and its concepts are formed when the world was created. The world's origin, Mukat's death, and the human's death consequences are also told in the Cahuilla creation story. The proper use of supernatural powers is also tackled in their story.

The Spanish mission system did not affect the Cahuilla but the economic systems that are implemented on their homelands greatly affected them. They became part in wage labor for the Spanish and Mexicans and also in the labor force in Southern California. A treaty was signed with the U.S. Government on 1850s when the Americans arrive to the place of Cahuilla. Unfortunately, the agreement was not ratified. This resulted to the Cahuilla being left without their legal land base until 1870s. 

However, their political systems and beliefs have not been manipulated by the coming of Spanish and Americans. The damages that they just brought to the Cahuilla are the land losses, death of at least 80 percent of their people due to the European diseases as well as the loss of the political autonomy of Cahuilla. The people of Cahuilla today are living in reservations up to the time that the people learned to become part of agriculture, viticulture, cattle raising and wage labor. These reservations also make money through from tourism. Gaming is their important activity. They are also planning gaming facilities. These kinds of enterprises provides economic base for people living in the area.  

Today, elected tribal councils administer the Cahuilla reservations. They are very much concerned with the individuals. 

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