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Torres Martinez Band of Mission Indians (Cahuilla) - California (U.S.)

Native American

Last modified: 2017-08-23 by rick wyatt
Keywords: torres martinez | mission indians | cahuilla | native american | california |
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[Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians flag] image by Donald Healy, 1 February 2008



See also:


The Band

[Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla  map]
map image by Peter Orenski based on input from Don Healy

Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians

Established in 1876.
Location: in Imperial and Riverside Counties, near the Salton Sea.
Tribal Headquarters are in Thermal, CA.
Area: 24,000 acres, 40 % submerged in the Salton Sea, the rest is checkerboarded with a pure desert and private agricultural land representing one of the most intense and productive agricultural area of the U.S. (Coachella Valley).
Historic sites on the Reservation include Toro Indian Village, the Coachella Valley Fish Traps and the Martinez Historic District, which has what are believed to be the oldest Indian Agency buildings in California.
Population: ~4,146

Torres Martinez opened in April, 2007, the newest Indian casino in California - The Red Earth Casino - on the stretch of the desolate desert alongside S86 Expressway. It is a small, but ultra-modern establishment with a gas station, travel center, 'Subway' sandwich shop and a cafe. The sight of it is truly unreal - red roofed building in the middle of nowhere backed by what it looks like a desert mirage - a shimmering, huge body of water - but it isn't a mirage - that's the Salton Sea. The casino is already very popular with the truck drivers hauling stuff to and from Brawley, El Centro and Calexico in California and Mexicali in Baja California, MX - they can rest, park free and have a degree of excitement while loosing some quarters in the gambling machines. The Band has plans to open another casino and a resort closer to the Interstate 10 Freeway in the near future.

Chrystian Kretowicz, 27 January 2008


Having some 25,000 acres in Riverside County, California, the Torres-Martinez Band of Cahuilla Indians, generally referred to as Mission Indians, continue living in the arid California desert that has been home to them for more than a thousand years. Long before the white man stepped upon the Americas, the Cahuilla had adopted a lifestyle which accommodated the strict requirements of desert living. They adapted to the foods available in the dry land and dug wells to retrieve water when none could be found on the surface.

The modern Torres-Martinez Band get their name from their reservation. It in turn is named for an early village named Toro and the Martinez Indian Agency which was located in the Coachella Valley area of southern California. Today, the Torres-Martinez Cahuilla Indians number some 90 members.
Donald Healy, 1 February 2008


The Flag

This particular band employs a white flag upon which is placed a design created by Ruby Modesto and executed by an artist known only as "Gruffum". The central element of the design is a deer, probably a mule deer, which for centuries was a common sight on the lands of the Cahuilla. The deer appears before a full moon, much like they did when they came to the rare lakes and streams to drink nightly, by the light of the moon. The water sources quenched the thirst of the Cahuilla people and the deer who came to drink and offered plants an indispensable medium for their survival. The plants burgeoning because of the water are represented by a pair of palm trees seen in the distance. Both the moon and the deer are depicted countercharged, an heraldic term meaning that the image is split in half, with light-colored elements in one half being mirrored as dark elements in the other.

For the Torres Martinez Band, their emblem is a reddish brown color, recalling the deer's pelt. Other items within the logo are the mountains that form the Coachella Valley and the rolling sand of the desert.

Surrounding the central design is the official name of the band - "Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians" and below the design appears a phrase in the native tongue of the Cahuilla "Mau-Wal-Mah Su-Kutt Menvil". It means "Among the palms, deer moon". The phrase encapsulates the tribal symbol, while the symbol encapsulates the history of the land so long home to the Cahuilla people.

Donald Healy 2008
information provided by Peter Orenski, 1 February 2008