[Marxism] Extermination of Indians in Southern California
Brian_Shannon at verizon.net
Fri Dec 16 16:49:18 MST 2005
Marxmail subscribers are broadly familiar with the elimination of the
earliest inhabitants of North American in the East and the Plains. I
thought that this short article on related events in Southern
California might be of interest. The Serrano tribe occupied a
reservation next to Patton State Hospital, where my mother was the
Asst. Superintendent and where I grew up from the 2nd grade until
Spanish gave SB Valley natives the Serrano name
The tribe's territory extended from Cajon Pass to 29 Palms
Nicholas R. Cataldo, Special to The Sun
San Bernardino County Sun
Just who were the first people in the San Bernardino Valley?
According to tribe historian Ernest Siva, these people called
themselves Yuhaviatam, which means "people of the pines." But when
Spanish explorers and missionaries found the native people living on
the southern and northern slopes of the San Bernardino Mountains,
they gave them the name Serrano, meaning the mountain people. The
name still is used today in identifying the tribe.
The Serranos lived near lakes, streams, springs and other water
sources throughout much of the San Bernardino Valley. Their territory
also extended from the Cajon Pass east to Twentynine Palms and into
the High Desert along the Mojave River.
The Serranos' villages were alongside streams, around springs and
lakes or at the mouths of canyons. Their circular-shaped homes,
called kiich, measured 12 to 14 feet across and resembled upside-down
baskets. They were made of stick frames covered in brush.
Settlements were spread out, sometimes sprawling over several square
miles. Food and water, clothing and shelter appear to have been the
primary reasons for village locations.
Because they were hunters and gatherers, the Serranos migrated with
the seasons. Winter would find them in their lowland villages, living
off the food they had gathered the previous summer. As the weather
warmed and mountain plants bloomed, they would go up to the high
Some of the important Serrano village sites in the foothills and high
in the mountains include Guapiabit in Summit Valley near the west
fork of the Mojave River, Amuscopiabit at the junction of Cajon and
Crowder creeks in Cajon Pass, Apinjabit near Arrowhead Springs,
Apuimabit along City Creek near Highland, Yucaipat slightly east of
present-day Yucaipa and Cochavipabit just east of present-day Big
In his book, "History of the San Bernardino Valley From Padres to
Pioneers: 1810-1851," Father Juan Caballeria described the Serranos
as being undersized, flat faced, broad nosed, with high cheekbones,
wide mouths and coarse hair. From bones recovered from the cremated
remains excavated at Deep Creek, it has been deduced that these
Serranos were indeed small, probably not exceeding five feet.
When Father Francisco Garces came through the valley on his way to
Mission San Gabriel in March 1776, he reported that the natives were
friendly and hospitable. He was shocked how they lived in what he
considered miserable conditions and no doubt wondered how the
Serranos kept from freezing to death in the winter. The padre noted
that the Serrano women's skirts were made from the inner bark of
cottonwood trees, while the men wore deerskin loincloths - sometimes.
One could imagine what Garces' reaction would have been if he had
made his trip through the valley in the warm summer and saw the
Serrano children running around stark naked!
The raging conflict between the white man and the Indian in San
Bernardino County, although intense since their first encounter,
really started heating up during the 1860s.
The Indians watched first with resentment, then smoldering rage as
the newcomers slaughtered their animals, stole the land and ravaged
its natural resources without regard for the future.
Tribes like the Serrano and the neighboring Cahuilla realized that it
was in their best interests to put up with these intruders than fight
a losing battle. The Southern Paiutes and Chemehuevis out in the
Mojave Desert felt likewise.
Trouble brewed when occasional horse and cattle rustling occurred in
the valley and mountains. And David Noble Smith was wounded while
working at the upper toll house on John Brown's Turnpike in the Cajon
Pass in 1862. That same year there was a horrific small-pox epidemic
that took a tremendous toll on the 3,500 to 7,000 Serranos in San
In 1866, three cowboys were killed by Indians at Dunlap's Ranch in
Summit Valley. The following year, buildings were burned and looted
at what is now Lake Arrowhead. As a result, the white males in the
San Bernardino Valley formed a militia to eliminate the Indians from
Most likely, the raiders were either Paiute or Chemehuevi, not
Serrano. But the white man didn't care. In a 32-day campaign, most of
the Indians in the mountain areas were killed or driven from their
Several of the surviving Serranos led by Chief Antonio Sever began
working for ranchers in the San Bernardino Valley, while the majority
followed leader Santos Manuel into the foothills north of today's
Patton State Hospital.
The San Manuel Reservation became officially established by
presidential order in 1891.
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