Ancient Times - The Years of the Cahuilla

1000 A.D. - 1810 A.D. (No one is really sure when the first Native Americans arrived here)

Before any Europeans visited here, this valley was home to various Native American groups. The North side of the valley was mostly inhabited by people we know as Serranos. This side of the valley was mostly home to Cahuilla Indians. The Indians of Loma Linda lived along the banks of the San Timoteo creek in one or more villages.


Where did they come from?

The Natives in Loma Linda came from the Eastern desert, and were related to the Cahuilla people who now live in and around Palm Springs and Palm Desert. Their homeland included the Palm Canyons. Cool springs and hot springs made life very nice, even though they lived in the desert. Small bands of Cahuilla Indians lived up and down the San Timoteo Canyon. They hunted and gathered food by the sides of the creek. There was a village near the corner of Mt. View Ave and Mission Road. Were the streets there already?

San Bernardino County Museum

What was their language?

The Cahuilla were Shoshonean people. They spoke different dialects, but they could talk and trade with other people, like the Serranos and Gabrielenos. They all descended from the same ancestors.

What did they eat?

The Cahuilla ate soups and breads made from mashed acorns. They gathered pine nuts and grass seeds in baskets. They gathered berries, roots and cactus fruits. Hunters used bows and arrows to kill game, like birds, rabbits, and lizards. Boys learned how to throw a curved stick to hit and catch rabbits.

People who live like this are called "hunter-gatherers". They had no farming, but they ate a lot of different plant foods. They gathered food when it was available. They stored things like seeds in large baskets and pottery jars.

Food could be boiled by putting a hot rock into a basket of acorn soup or other liquid. The hot rock gave off its heat to the liquid. A long stick was used to move the hot rocks in and out of the cooking basket

A Cahuilla Stirring Paddle

San Bernardino County Museum

What were their homes like?

Cahuilla lived in homes made of sticks and plants. They were called "kish". First, they stuck long sticks in the ground and tied them at the top. The shape was round on top, not like a teepee. They would weave reeds or palm fronds together to cover the outside of the kish. They used plant fibers to make rope and string to hold it all together.

The kish could be built in a few days, but strong winds could blow it away.

Maxine and Ralph Strane

What were their customs?

Cahuilla lived in bands or groups of people. They didn't ever marry anyone in their own band, but would marry someone in another group. They told many stories about how the world began. Boys were taught how to hunt animals. Girls learned how to grind acorns, make baskets and pots. Everyone helped build kishes.

San Bernardino County Museum