Indian Tribes of San Bernardino County, California

 
The Indian Tribes that inhabited San Bernardino County were not a few, and several of them have representatives at the present day. There are the Yuma, who dwell along the Colorado River, from its entrance into Arizona to its outlet, occupying only the river bottoms; the Yuma are so far removed from the settled districts as to belong practically to Arizona. The Serrano and Cahuilla Indians have intermarried for so long a time that now the separate tribes can hardly be distinguished. They occupy divers fruitful valleys in the vicinity of San Bernardino. The Chimehuera and Pah-ute inhabit the sterile desert country north of the San Bernardino valley, rarely visiting the settlements. Already very few in number, they are rapidly becoming extinct. In the early days of San Bernardino these two tribes were very troublesome to the settlers, miners, and particularly to the stockmen, owing to their predilection for stock stealing. Hence resulted contests in which no little blood was shed on both sides. During the civil war these tribes became thoroughly imbued with the spirit of outlawry, and, reinforced by renegade whites, their menaces caused serious fears of a regular attack upon the town of San Bernardino.

The Mission Indians, accustomed to whole-some restraints and guidance under the rule of the padres, found themselves homeless, helpless, and without resources or direction, on the carrying into effect of the laws of secularization. No other influence or provision was substituted for those which they then lost, and they were left in the situation of grown-up and untrained children, so that they have for the most part lapsed into the lives of vagrants and outcasts.

The agency for the Mission Indians in this county was established in 1878, with Colonel S. S. Lawson as agent. In 1879-'80 there was great distress among them because of a failure of crops and scarcity of work. The agent rep-resented to the Government the imminent approach of famine among them, and provision was accordingly made for feeding them until after the crisis.

Of the six or eight schools established under the agency one is in this county, at the Potrero near Banning. The teacher reports encouraging progress by the pupils.

The first census of the Indians in this county seems to have been taken about 1880, under the superintendence of Indian Agent Lawson, who ascertained as nearly as possible the number in each tribe. Of the Serrano, living chiefly at the Potrero, on the Colorado Desert, he found only 212, all told; of the Cahuilla, living mostly in the valleys, he found 204. This is a very small proportion of the tribes, as they mostly live in San Diego County. About the only possession of value in the hands of the Indians of San Bernardino at present is a limited number of horses. Yet there has been a marked improvement in their condition since the establishment of the agency. The Indians of the various tribes in these counties have mostly embraced Christianity, and they attend religious services at the mission chapel when they have an opportunity.

The Mission Indians' Consolidated Agency, a Federal institution, comprising some twelve Government employees, has its headquarters at Colton.

The only Indian reservation in the county is the one at Banning, which contains about 200 Indians, being known as the Morongo reservation. The Government school here contains about twenty-two pupils, which is about the usual number belonging to these schools. The whole number of Mission Indians in the county at present is about 300.

The training in the Indian schools of this agency reach about that grade corresponding to the intermediate grade of the public schools. The division comprehended in San Diego, San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties contains eight day schools for Indians, averaging a daily attendance of eight pupils.

The remnant of the Cahuilla are mainly engaged in stock-raising, the other tribes in agriculture, independently on their own lands, or as farm laborers. These Indians are almost self-sustaining. Once yearly the agency issues farming implements, distributed among the various reservations, seventeen in number, the issue not exceeding a value of $6,000, and about $600 are expended annually in relieving the institution comprises sixty acres of land, set to various kinds of trees, and it is a beautiful and valuable property.

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