Pala Band of Mission Indians

Mailing Address

12196 Pala Mission Road
Pala, CA 92059

Contact Information




Cultural History

The Pala Band of Mission Indians is a federally recognized tribe which is located in the Northern part of the San Diego County. The majority of its 918 registered members live in the reservation area which was granted to the Cupeño and the Luiseño Indians who both consider themselves as one group of people known as the Pala. The reservation area is 12,273 acres wide.

The Cupeño’s name comes from the Spanish origin which was a derivation of the native name of a place known as the Kupa while the eño was added to mean a person living in the Kupa. The Cupeños, however, prefer to call themselves as the Kuupangaxwichem which means "People who slept here". The Cupans is one of the smalles Native American tribes who are settled in the Southern California. The tribe never reached a one thousand population since their establishment. The tribe used to settle in a territory which is 10 square miles in diameter located in a mountainous region of the headwaters of the San Luis Rey River located in the Valley of San Jose de Valle. Most of the Cupeños, however still like to trace back their heritage from the Cupa. The tribe was expelled from their homelands and the Cupeños are now called Pala. They are together living with the Luiseño tribe in the California State.

The tribe used to have very little contact with the Whites. The tribe was living peacefully in their homeland and there were no intruders until the arrival of the Americans who caused the exclusion of the Cupans from their own territory. Soon enough, more and more Spanish, Americans and Mexicans arrived in the area, displacing the Cupans.

The Cupans soon found it irritating to stay in an area where they are outnumbered by the Whites. They soon traveled to find new areas to reside in when several trails were created in their territory. It was in 1848 when a Cupeno Net whose name was Antonio Garra made the first attempts to unite the Southern California Indians and the foreigners who were invading the land. He then launched a revolution to sort out the Natives from the intruders. Being peace-loving people, the tribe instead chose to undergo a coalition to sue for peace. 

The tribe experienced a tragedy when they were expelled out of their territory. They were declared trespassers to the lands of the government. In the morning of 1903, on the 12th of May, an Indian Bureau Agent named James Jerkins arrived in their territory with 44 armed men to carry out an eviction. The tribe was devastated and cried a lot. The tribe then started the three days journey from Cupa to Pala. The Cupeños traveled forty miles to reach Pala and the journey is remembered as the Trail of Tears.

Today, the tribe has finally moved on and they have established their business enterprise known as the Pala Casino Resort & Spa. The tribe also owns and operates a ninety acre avocado grove known as the Pala Avocado Grove.

Featured Tribal News

No featured news.