Before there was Riverside, San Bernardino, Redlands or Rancho Cucamonga, the Inland Empire was home to indigenous communities for thousands of years.
According to the Native-Land.ca website, the Inland Empire was once home to the Tongva, who are believed to have inhabited Southern California for 3,500 years; the Payómkawichum (Luiseño); Kizh; Cahuilla, who say they arrived in the area 5,000 years ago; and the Yuhaviatam/Maarenga’yam (Serrano) tribes – all of which survive today under several names in several federally recognized tribes.
There were perhaps 300 tribes in Southern California, according to Gerald Clarke, a professor of ethnic studies at UC Riverside and a member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians. But “many of them have just been wiped off the face of the Earth,” he said.
Many did not survive Spanish and American colonization, Clarke said, particularly following the huge waves of westward immigration in the 19th century, beginning with the California Gold Rush and dozens of thousands of Americans arriving in the northern part of the state in search of riches.
“It’s the complexity of this nation’s history,” Clarke said. “If the Gold Rush had happened in Southern California, I probably wouldn’t be here today…my tribe wouldn’t be here today.”
Surviving tribes may or may not be recognized by the federal government, which gives tribes and their members the right to receive federal services and resources.
“There are 110 federally recognized tribes” nationwide, Clarke said.
But there are also many tribal communities that the federal government does not recognize. Federal recognition is a long and politically tense process, and it can take decades for the Bureau of Indian Affairs to make a final decision on applications.
As a result, “there is no comprehensive list” of Native American tribes in California, Clarke said.
Today, only 13 tribes based in Riverside and San Bernardino counties are recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which Clarke says — at least in the case of the Inland Empire — is likely an accurate list of tribes. who have historically called the region. House .
Below is the federal government’s list of recognized tribes headquartered in the Inland Empire:
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
There are over 500 members of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, with a tribal headquarters in Palm Springs. The tribe owns a 31,000-acre reservation and 7,000 acres of off-reserve land, much of it in Palm Springs. Collectively, the tribe and its members are the largest landowners in the city. The tribe operates casinos in Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage.
Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians
One of the smallest federally recognized tribes, there were only 12 members of the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians as of 2019. The tribe is headquartered in Coachella, where it opened a casino in 2002. The tribe is also the majority owner of a casino game. manufacturing company and in 2008 opened a solar farm on its 1 square mile reserve near Thermal.
Cabazon Band of Mission Indians
The approximately 800-member Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, headquartered in Indio, was the first tribe to establish high-stakes bingo in California. The state of California argued that the bingo games violated state law, and the case eventually went to the United States Supreme Court. The Cabazon and Morongo Bands won California against the Cabazon Band of Indians, and the 1987 Supreme Court decision cemented tribal sovereignty across the United States and led to an explosion of tribal casinos across the country. Today they own the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio. They also have a 1,706 acre reservation in Coachella.
Cahuilla Band of Indians
The band of Cahuilla Indians, whose tribal headquarters was at Anza, was thought to have numbered about 10,000 in the 17th century. By 2012, that number had dropped to around 150. They have a reservation of around 20,000 acres near Anza and operate a casino and hotel on the reservation, although some tribal members continue to raise cattle on the reservation , as they did before the tribal game. ruled legal by the U.S. Supreme Court.
Fort Mojave Indian Tribe of Arizona, California and Nevada
The Fort Mojave Indian Tribe of Arizona, California and Nevada has its tribal headquarters in Needles and a reservation of nearly 42,000 acres straddling California, Arizona and Nevada. The tribe of about 1,100 members operates two casinos on the reservation and leases much of the land to agricultural businesses.
Morongo Band of Mission Indians
The Morongo Band of Mission Indians owns a reservation of approximately 35,000 acres near Banning, where their tribal headquarters is located. Most of the tribe of nearly 1,000 members live on the reservation. Along with the Cabazon Band, its early 1980s bingo hall clashed with local government and the Tribes’ joint legal battle eventually established the Tribes’ right to operate casinos throughout much of the United States. They operate the Morongo Casino near Cabazon.
Pechanga Band of Luiseño Mission Indians
The Pechanga Band of Indians of the Luiseno Mission, whose membership was not immediately available, owns the 4,300-acre Pechanga reservation. The tribe’s headquarters is in Temecula, where it operates a casino. The reserve is home to the Great Oak, a 1,000 year old oak tree which continues to produce acorns. The tribe’s name also appears on a sports stadium in San Diego.
Ramona de Cahuilla Band
The Ramona de Cahuilla Band owns a 560-acre reservation near Anza, where its tribal headquarters is located. The tribe, whose full membership was not immediately available, does not own a casino and its goal is to have its reservation completely “off the grid”, with wind turbines and solar panels powering the buildings of Reserve.
San Manuel Mission Band of Indians
The 1,100+ acre San Manuel Band of Mission Indians reservation overlooks Highland and San Bernardino. In addition to its casino — one of San Bernardino’s biggest employers — the tribe owns or co-owns four hotels in the United States. The tribe, whose membership was not immediately available, is also a major philanthropic force in San Bernardino, helping to fund educational, health and cultural programs.
Band of Cahuilla Indians from Santa Rosa
The 11,630-acre reservation of the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians lies between Palm Springs and Anza. The reservation is home to Toro Peak, where the tribe maintains a telecommunications relay station. According to the tribe’s website, there are 194 registered tribal members in total.
Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians
The 1,550 members of the Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians own a reservation of approximately 5,900 acres near San Jacinto, where the tribe’s headquarters is located and where the tribe operates a casino. From 2009 to 2012, they organized the Soboba Golf Classic in their country club.
Desert of Torres Martinez Cahuilla Indians
The Cahuilla Indians of the Torres Martinez Desert live on a 24,000-acre reservation straddling Riverside and Imperial counties and have a tribal seat in Thermal. Tribe membership was not immediately available. It operates the Red Earth Casino between Indio and Brawley. The tribe is the largest landowner in and around the Salton Sea.
Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians of California
The Twenty-Nine Palms of Mission Indians Band of California has a tribal headquarters in Coachella. The tribe operates Spotlight 29 Casino near Coachella and Tortoise Rock Casino near Twentynine Palms. The tribe, whose membership was not immediately available, has two reservations, one near Twentynine Palms in San Bernardino County and a second near Indio and Coachella in Riverside County.
In addition to local tribes, Southern California is home to many Native Americans whose ancestors lived elsewhere and were forced to move to urban areas by the federal government.
About 12% of Native Americans in the United States live in California, making it home to the second largest native population in the country. And some tribes in Arizona and Nevada also have reservations that cross into the Inland Empire.
This story has been updated to include information about the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians.