Saturday, February 24, 2018

Old Pala

There's an Old Pala that has existed probably long before there was even a Pala but that's another story.  There were and still are indigenous people living around Old Pala.  They are called Luiseno. They were Mission Indians under the jurisdiction of the San Luis Rey Mission.  They are a band of Luiseno.  There are many Luiseno bands around Southern California.  Many people at Pala have a mix of Luiseno blood.  The Luiseno reservations are Soboba, Pechanga, Pala, Pauma, and Rincon.

In 1852 the Pala Luiseno singed a treaty with the U.S. Government.  They were granted a reservation in 1875.  In 1895 some Pala Luiseno were allotted land.  This land was and continues to be recorded separately as part of the Old Pala Reservation.

There is another Tribe of indians called the Agua Caliente Cupeno.  These were not Mission Indians.  By all accounts they were hard working self sufficient people.  The traditional homeland of the Cupeno is the village at Kupa also known as Warner's Hot Springs and before that Agua Caliente.

The Agua Caliente Cupeno continued to reside on their ancestral homeland until 1903 when due to a Supreme Court ruling the Cupeno were forced off their land.  The U.S. Government in all its wisdom decided purchasing land right next to the Old Pala Luiseno Reservation was a good idea.  There were other tracts of lands considered such as Monserate but in the end the old Salmons Ranch was purchased for the Cupeno.

There was a provision in the law that said something like the land was purchased for the Agua Caliente Cupeno (Warner Ranch Evictees) and other landless indians that had no home.  This created sort of a land grab as people just showed up at Pala.

In May of 1903 several villages around Kupa were moved to Pala.  In October of 1903 another tribe was forced to move to Pala.  These were the San Felipe Indians, Iipay or Digueno.  This was a separate lawsuit and separate removal.

One Cupeno legend is of Kisily Pewish.  His mother was Luiseno from Soboba and Father was Cupeno.  One day the "Southerners" or Digueno massacred everyone at the Village of Kupa except for Kisily Pewish and his Mother.  They went back to Soboba where, just to short hand the story, Kisily grew up and retook Kupa from the Southerners by killing them all with the help of his magical bear and his mother.

So, the BIA in its infinite wisdom decided putting the Agua Caliente Cupeno next to the Pala Luiseno and then mixing in Iipay was a good idea.

Initially the BIA tried accounting for all the Indians separately.  There are Luiseno, San Felipe, Cupeno, Cahuilla, and Yaqui all at Pala as well as some others.  But as time went on to make administration easier on themselves the BIA just tried to say everyone was Pala.  But tensions always arose and continue to this day among the different tribes and bands at Pala.

The Agua Caliente Cupeno historically have governed themselves through Custom and Tradition through Family Relationships.  This continues to this day.  However, in the 1960's the BIA forced the indians at Pala to abandon any official relationship with their blood lines and tried to merge all the blood into one calling it "Pala Blood" or blood of the band.  This was an association of bands and tribes and not one tribe.

The problem with this, and the BIA knows it, is that it is against the law for one tribe to determine the membership of another (see Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez).  This is precisely what is going on at Pala to this day.  We have non-Cupenos deciding who are members.  They are even changing blood degrees against the recommendations of the U.S. Government.  What gives them a right to change anyone's blood degree?

Further, in the 1960's, the Cupeno at Pala knew there were several tribes at Pala.  Thus they pushed to be included in Enrollment Ordinance No. 1 a provision not allowing tribal members to belong to more than one tribe.  See below Section 1c.

Click to Enlarge

The Agua Caliente Cupeno have always pushed for Kupa blood to be counted and the BIA has always denied it.  Now, the BIA has changed the name of the Old Pala Luiseno to the Pala Band of Mission Indians illegally.  That means technically Pala is now a 132 acre reservation with 800 acres of grazing rights all the rest belonging to the Agua Caliente Cupeno as well as other Warner Ranch Evictees.  But for whatever reason the BIA does not see it that way.  Go figure.