Cahuilla Indians of California

This account of the Cahuilla, one of the largest surviving tribes in southern California, represents the work of Lucile Hooper as University of California research fellow in anthropology in 1918.

The Cahuilla occupy three contiguous but quite different habitats. The Mountain division inhabits Coahuilla reservation and certain near-by tracts, some four thousand feet above the ocean. To the north, in San Gorgonio Pass, are the Pass Cahuilla, at about half that elevation. These are now mostly on Morongo reservation. The Desert Cahuilla are inland from the two preceding groups, about Indio and Coachella in Torres, Martinez, and a number of other small reservations northwest of the Salton Sea. The territory of these people is almost wholly without rainfall, and lies at about sea level, in part below it. Their habitat is thus unusually specialized. Owing to late settlement of the district by Americans, this group of the Cahuilla has also best preserved its ancient customs. Miss Hooper s investigations relate chiefly to the Desert Cahuilla.

There is a considerable body of published literature on the Cahuilla and other Indian tribes of southern California, but no intensive monograph upon any one tribe nor a satisfactory comprehensive treatment of the region. The literature being so scattered, its citation would have resulted in innumerable detailed cross-references in foot notes, which the ethnological specialist in this field would scarcely need, and which would not be of much aid to the novice. The list of the more important works given at the end of this paper will probably meet the requirements of most readers.

The first comparative problem about the Desert Cahuilla has hitherto been this. They speak the same language as the Mountain and Pass divisions, and are rather closely connected in speech with the other Shoshonean groups on the west the Luiseño, Cupeño, Juaneño, Gabrielino, and Serrano. To the east and northeast is the home of the alien Yuman tribes of the lower Colorado River the Coeopa, Yuma, Mohave and others, all agricultural; and of the Chemehuevi or Southern Paiute, nomads of the Great Basin. Do the cultural connections of the Cahuilla run chiefly westward like their speech affiliations, or are they as close with the Yumans and Chemehuevi? Miss Hooper’s data, taken in their entirety, settle this question.

Bibliography of the Cahuilla People


The Ethnobotany of the Coahuilla Indians of Southern California, University of Chicago Press. 1900. The most important work on the Cahuilla, and very vividly written; it deals least fully with those phases of native life which are especially represented in the present monograph.


History of San Bernardino Valley. San Bernardino. 1902. Contains a brief account of the more westerly Cahuilla.


Clans and Moieties in Southern California, present series, xrv, 155-219. 1918. Pages 186-191 give practically all the information extant on Cahuilla social organization.


Ethnography of the Cahuilla Indians, present series, viil, 29-68. Ethno-geography and material culture. 1908.


Cahuilla Tales, Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, xxi, 239-240. 1908.

Bibliography of Adjacent Tribes


Chinigchinich, in A. Robinson, Life in California. New York. Reprinted by A. Taylor in California Farmer, xiii. A rare work of very great value. It refers to the Juaneno and Gabrielino of Mission San Juan Capistrano. 1846.


Of a long series of articles by this author, the following are the principal:

The Mythology of the Dieguenos, Intern. Cong. Am., xin, 101-106, New York, 1905 ;
Diegueno Myths and their Connections with the Mohave, and Two Types or Styles of Diegueno Religious Dancing, ibid., xv, 129-134, 135-138, Quebec, 1907;
Religious Ceremonies and Myths of the Mission Indians, Am. Anthr., n.s., Vii, 620-629, 1905;
Diegueno Mortuary Ollas, ibid., EX, 484-486, 1907;
Mythology of the Dieguenos, Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, xrv, 181-185, 1901;
Mythology of the Mission Indians, ibid., xvn, 185-188, 1904;
The Story of the Chaup, a Myth of the Dieguenos, ibid., 217-242, 1904;
The Religion of the Luiseno and Diegueno Indians, present series, vm, 69-186, 3908.

The last is the fullest and most important of these papers.


A Yuma Account of Origins, Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, xxi, 324-348. 1908.


A Saboba Origin Myth, Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, xv, 36-39, 1902.

The Legend of Tauquitch and Algoot, ibid., xvi, 153-159, 1903.


Preliminary Sketch of the Mohave Indians, Am. Anthr., n.s., iv, 276-285, 1902; Two Myths of the Mission Indians, Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, xix, 309-321, 1906; Origin Tradition of the Chemehuevi Indians, ibid., xxi, 240-242, 1908; A Mission Record of the California Indians, present series, viii, 1-27, 1908. 1902-1908.


The Exiles of Cupa; Two Days at Mesa Grande, Out West, xvi, 465-479, 602-612. 1902.


The Indians of Los Angeles County, Los Angeles Star, 1852, republished by A. Taylor in California Fanner, xrv, January 11 to February 8, 1861, and abridged by W. J. Hoffman in Bulletin Essex Institute, Salem, xvn, 1885. Second only to Boscana in general importance. 1852.


A Puberty Ceremony of the Mission Indians, Am. Anthr., n. s., viii, 28-32. 1906.


The Methods of Manufacturing Pottery and Baskets among the Indians of Southern California, Rep. Peabody Mus. Am. Arch. Ethn., n, 521-525. 1880.


The Culture of the Luiseiio Indians, present series, vm, 187-234. 1908.
A Luiseno Tale, Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, xxi, 35-36. 1908.


Analysis of the Mission Indian Creation Story, Am. Anthr., n.s., xi, 41-55, 1909;
Diegueno Identification of Color with the Cardinal Points, Jour. Am. Folk-Lore, xxi, 40-42, 1908;
The Religious Practices of the Diegueno Indians, present series, vm, 271-358, 1910.


Hooper, Lucile. The Cahuilla Indians. Berkeley, California: University Of California Press. 1920.

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