Last modified: 2017-08-21 by rick wyatt
Keywords: cabazon band | mission indians | california | native american |
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image by Donald Healy, 26 December 2007
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy
Cabazon Band of Mission Indians - California
The Cabazon Band of Mission Indians are the descendants of Chief Cabazon, head of the Desert Cahuilla Indians during the middle decades of the 19th century. Although the Cabazon Cahuilla were never under the control of the Spanish mission system when European-American settlers arrived in what was then Alta California state of Mexico in the 1840s, the white man referred to most of the Native people as Mission Indians. The name stuck. The Cabazons have lived in the Coachella Valley (Riverside County) for over two and a half millennia - that's more than 2,500 years!
The Cahuilla (pronounced Kah-we-ah, which means "masters" or "powerful ones" in Spanish) learned to survive harsh desert conditions by digging wells and harvesting available foods such as acorns, mesquite and pinyon pine nuts. Their homes (individually known as a kish) were made from reeds, branches and brush. There are two main branches of the Cahuilla - the Wildcat and Coyote groups. These two major groups were further subdivided into about a dozen clans, each with its own name, territory and common ancestry.
Cahuilla populations started shrinking in the 1850s as The Southern Pacific Railroad laid claim to local water rights. This deprived the Cahuilla of the most precious resource in the desert and resulted in poor crop yields. The loss of water forced the Cahuilla people to move over and over. Chief Cabazon's people were living near Indio, California, when President Ulysses S. Grant issued an executive order on May 15, 1876, creating the Cabazon Reservation for the 600 tribal members then surviving.
Today, there are fewer than 50 members of the Cabazon Tribe. Their reservation covers 1,450 acres in various small parcels spread over 16 miles. The largest section contains the tribal offices, police and fire departments, their gaming operation and family bowling center.
© Donald Healy 2008
The Cabazon Cahuilla employ a white flag bearing their tribal seal in the center. Near the top and bottom edges of the flag is placed an intricate pattern shown in red. These two stripes reach almost to the hoist and outer edges of the
The stripes are mirror images of each other. They consist of an outer border of a relatively thick line. Within this extended rectangle are a series of triangles, one directly following the other. Within each triangle are two smaller triangles, both of which share the same baseline. These triangles point toward the center of the flag. The design between the outer triangles is evocative of Saquaro cacti or stick figures like the "Man in the Maze" seen on flags of the Pima/Maricopa of Arizona.
The seal of the Cabazon Cahuilla is round with a red-triangle edging all around. Within this edging is a black narrow band and within it a white ring bearing the tribal name and its location - Indio, California, in black lettering. This encloses an artistic representation of the lands of the Cabazon Cahuilla. On a tan landscape of desert sand springs forth a large Saguaro cactus in green casting a dark shadow off to its left. In front of the cactus sits a curled rattlesnake shown in white. Behind the saguaro is the purple mountain majesty that surrounds the desert, capped by white snow â€” the source of much of the water that served the Cahuilla for centuries. Above the mountains in a cloud filled light blue sky appears a red sun recalling the harsh conditions facing the desert dwelling Cahuilla people.
[Thanks to Janice Kleinschmidt, Public Information Officer of the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, for providing information about the flag and seal of the Tribe.]
© Donald Healy 2008
information provided by Peter Orenski, 26 December 2007
image by Chris Kretowicz, 24 April 2001
Flag reported in 2001 without the ornamentation above and below the seal.