Pechanga Tribal Nation

History

 The Mission Indian Federation, circa 1920. An association of 51 tribes from Southern California organized to defend tribal sovereignty and promote self-governance.
The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians has called the Temecula valley home for more than 10,000 years. Life on earth began in this valley, Exva Temeeku, the place of the union of Sky— father, and Earth— mother (Tuukumit'pi Tamaayowit). The Temecula Indians (Temeekuyam) lived at Temeekunga— the place of the sun. And 10,000 years from now, tribal elders will share with tribal youth as they do today the story of the tribe's creation.

Pre-Contact

Since time immemorial, through periods of plenty, scarcity and adversity, the Pechanga people have governed ourselves and cared for our lands. We have grown and adapted to meet changing times and conditions. This land is witness to our story.

The history of Pechanga begins with our ancestral home village of Temeeku . Now under Redhawk, where Margarita road cuts south through a bluff, the Temeeku Village was home to the Temeekuyam and a center for all Luiseño Tribal peoples.

Post-Contact

 Gregoria Pajovish at Pechanga
after the eviction

The payomkowishum, or Luiseño People were nearly destroyed by events and actions from first contact with Spanish Missionaries. Turbulent times continued with the eviction of our tribe from traditional lands in the 1870s. The Pechanga reservation was established by Executive Order of the President of the United States on June 27, 1882, affirming Pechanga Tribal sovereignty and our land-base.

The Missionaries

In 1798, Spanish Missionaries founded the Mission of San Luis Rey de Francia, forever altering Luiseño tribal life and pressing the Luiseño people into servitude, slavery or imprisonment. The Roman Catholic Church established ranchos that encompassed the native villages. The newcomer Spanish identified the tribes living in the territory claimed for Mission San Luis Rey as Sanluiseños, or simply, Luiseños.

Eviction

After the establishment of the state of California in 1850, a group of Temecula Valley Ranchers petitioned the District Court in San Francisco for a Decree of Ejection of Indians living on the land in Temecula Valley, to which the Temeekuyam could show no clear written title on April 15, 1869. The court later granted the decree in 1873. Several attempts by the Temeekuyam captains to stay the decree were unsuccessful, and our fate was sealed.

In 1875 a posse led by the sheriff of San Diego County, Mr. Hunsaker, began three days worth of evictions. Among those in the posse were Jose Gonzalez, Juan Murrieta, Francisco Sanjurjo, Pujol, and Louis Wolf. Murrieta and Sanjurjo were two of the ranchers— sheep farmers— who successfully petitioned for the decree.

The Temecula Indians were advised and warned by our friends that, for our own protection, rather than resist any longer we should submit. We complied, and our possessions are carried away in wagons while we walked behind. We were taken into the hills south of Temecula River. The location is now near the west end of Loma Linda Road on the Temecula Creek Golf-course's fairway. The late Antonio Ashman, a vaunted Pechanga Tribal member born three years after the eviction recounted how the eviction-trek ended: "They just dumped them here"— pointing to a low hill near the golf-course. "Just dumped them!"

Being strong of spirit, most of our dispossessed ancestors moved upstream to a small, secluded valley; they built new homes and re-established their lives in this valley. A spring located 2 miles upstream in a canyon provided them with water; the spring we have always called Pechaa'a (from pechaq = to drip). This spring is the namesake for Pechaa'anga or Pechaanga, which means "at Pechaa'a, at the place where water drips."

Creation of the Reservation

On June 27th, 1882, seven years after being evicted, an Executive Order of the President of the United States (Chester A. Arthur) was issued, thereby establishing the Pechanga Indian Reservation. Several subsequent Trust Patents were issued in 1893, 1931 and 1971, each one increasing the size of Pechanga. In 1891, 1,233 acres of the reservation's lands were allotted to adult heads of household in 20 and 10 acre plots. Read more about Traditional Sites.

The Kelsey Tract

Allotted land within the reservation proper is hilly and brushy; only small plots were flat enough upon which to farm. At the turn of the century the Pechanga people began to petition the federal government for land more suitable to farming purposes. Commissioner C.E. Kelsey, U.S. Indian Commissioner sought a remedy for Pechanga. In 1907 Kelsey was instrumental in setting aside land exclusively for the Pechanga Band. The land was put into trust under the U.S. Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

Tuuchaana is the name of the spring on the backside of the Kelsey Tract. The prominent knoll on the project site is called Uruushawish. Pechanga Creek more or less bisects the parcel.

Today

In 1988 the passage of the Southern California Indian Land Transfer (Public Law 100-581) Act adds an additional 303 acres along Pechanga's northern boundary. Today, the gross total land area of Pechanga reservation stands at 5,500 acres. As a people of this ancestral land that spreads from the center of Temecula out 60 miles north and south and approximately 45 miles east to west, we have always been responsible to the social and economic relationships that exist upon it. Today, Tribal Government operations such as Pechanga's monitor programs and resource management exist to fully honor and protect the land and our culture upon it.

Today, our tribal governmental operations are effective, insightful and forward thinking: our mandate is the sustainability and well being of the Pechanga way of life.

Pechanga is also integrated with and invested in our larger community. We work towards common goals with our neighbors through partnerships and charitable activities to benefit those outside the tribe.

Self-governance and self-determination are part of Pechanga's rich history.
Read more

The Great Oak has come to embody the identity and principles of the Pechanga Tribe: strength, wisdom, longevity and determination.

Learn about the Great Oak

More than just utensils, our baskets are a part of our culture, our people, tradition, environment and rich history.

Learn More