[Marxism] Extermination of Indians in Southern California

Administrator Shannon 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  
high school.

Brian Shannon
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  
Bear Lake.

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  
Bernardino County.

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  
the mountains.

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  
ancient homeland.

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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