By Phil Brigandi

The Journal of San Diego History
San Diego History Center Quarterly
Winter 2018, Volume 64, Number 1

Home. The place you’re from. For most people, it is the center of their world;
if they lose their home, they lose their way. In 1903 the Cupeño people of San
Diego County lost their home. The United States Supreme Court ruled that they
had no right to the land that had been their home for centuries. Ordered by the
government to a reservation at Pala, the Cupeño were forced to make a new home.
The eviction of the Cupeño in 1903 was the last of Indian “removals” in the
United States, ending a federal policy of forced relocations that had begun 75
years earlier, and is best-remembered in the Cherokee “trail of tears.”1

The Cupeño removal came at a time when attitudes were changing, both in Washington and
around the nation. Various groups and individuals took up the cause of the
Cupeño, yet in the end the old policies prevailed. This article focuses primarily
on the Cupeño, but there were other villages affected as well: the Luiseño villages
at Puerta la Cruz and La Puerta, and the Kumeyaay villages at Mataguay, San
José, and San Felipe, on the edge of the desert. The events and emotions described
here apply to those villagers as well.

The Cupeño were one of the smallest tribes in California. Their territory was
centered around Warner Hot Springs. Their main village was known as Cupa—
hence their name. Long before the arrival of the Spaniards, the Cupeño had lived
off the land as hunters and gatherers. There was hardly a plant or animal found
in their territory that was not used for food, for medicine, or for manufacture.2

The village of Cupa, circa 1893. Many of these adobes still stand; they were later used as guest cottages at
the Warner Hot Springs resort. ©SDHC #80:6689.

The earliest recorded Spanish expedition to the area was in 1795. They named the
valley El Valle de San José. Beginning in the 1820s, the Cupeño came under the influence of Mission San Luis Rey, which ran stock in the valley below the village. According to Jonathan Trumbull (Juan José) Warner, who first saw the valley in 1831, Mission San Diego had 5,000 cattle pastured in the southern end of the valley. He wrote, “the north half was occupied by the San Luis Rey Mission, and had buildings upon it, and vineyards planted by the mission. In the summer it was occupied by sheep and in other seasons by brood mares.”3 A few of the Cupeño went to live at the mission, but most remained in their villages and were not significantly affected by the secularization of the mission in 18

Portions of the Cupeño territory were included in two conflicting Mexican land grants, both known as the Rancho Valle de San José. The first was granted to Silvestre Portilla in 1836 and the second to Jonathan Trumbull Warner in 1844. Warner’s grant also took in the Rancho Agua Caliente at the northern end of the valley, which had been granted to José Antonio Pico in 1840, but abandoned two years later. Portilla left California not long after receiving his grant and his rancho was sold to José Joaquin Ortega, who signed the land back over to Mission San Diego in 1842 so he could receive yet another grant in the Santa Maria Valley (present-day Ramona). This cleared the way for Warner’s 1844 grant.5

With the American takeover of California in 1850, the U.S. Congress ordered a review of all Mexican land grants by a special commission. The hearings, appeals, and surveys took decades. During this time, Warner lost his land piece by piece, yet the valley continued to be commonly known as the Warner Ranch. In 1869, John Gately Downey, a former governor of California, began acquiring land in the valley and by 1880 was the sole owner of most of the old Warner Ranch. Under Spanish and Mexican law, the Indians had held the right to continue to occupy their existing villages, even when the land was granted as a rancho. American law did not see it that way.

Law but not Fact

As early as 1873 there had been rumors that Governor Downey intended to remove the Indians from the Warner Ranch. But first he had to settle his own right to the land. Sometimes he played at remorse, telling the local Indian agent in 1883 that he would only evict the Indians with “great reluctance.” Still Downey delayed. A major factor in his decision to delay filing suit against the Cupeño was the case of Byrne v. Alas, which began working its way through the courts in 1883. The case was similar, pitting the Indians living at Soboba near San Jacinto against San Bernardino businessman Matthew Byrne, who had purchased 710 acres within Rancho San Jacinto Viejo, which included the Indian village site.

Villagers from Cupa and Puerta la Cruz gather outside the home of Judge Vicente Cibimoat at Cupa for a “junta” with Charles Lummis, March 17, 1902. Shown standing (left to right) are Jose Cibimoat, Adolph Scholder, Jose Blacktooth, Pedro Owlinguish, Vicente Cibimoat, Jose Meechac, Francisco Laws, Adolfo Moro, an unidentified (blurred) man, Pasqual Blacktooth, Francisco Chutnicut, Sam Barker, Valentine?, Cinon Cibimoat, Silverio Nolasquez, Celsa Apapas, Cinciona Cibimoat, Ascencion Meechac, Manuela
Griffith, Margarita Brittain, Ramona Cibimoat, Mercedes Nolasquez, and Silvestra Moro. Kneeling in front are Captain Cecilio Blacktooth and Ambrosio Ortega. (Identifications provided by Roscinda Nolasquez.)
©SDHC #2963.

The case was heard in San Diego County Superior Court, and the villager— not surprisingly—lost the first round. The case was appealed, however, to the California Supreme Court, and in 1888 they affirmed the Sobobas’ right to their village, citing the precedents in Mexican law that protected permanent villages even within the boundaries of rancho grants. It was only a possessory right, but it was enough.6 For Downey, it must have been a blow; subsequently it gave the Cupeño four more years before he finally filed suit against them

In July 1892, Governor Downey filed his first lawsuit against the Cupeño, but unfortunately for him his attorneys forgot to include the southern villages among the defendants so almost immediately, the Cupeño asked that the suit be dismissed. That same day, Downey filed two new suits seeking the removal of the Cupeño along with the other villagers living on the ranch. The suit against Cupa and Puerta la Cruz was known as Downey v. Barker et al. (with Alejandro Barker heading the list of the 86 defendants). Mataguay, San José, and La Puerta were grouped together as Downey v. Quevas et al.

During the Soboba case, Los Angeles attorney Shirley Ward had served as Special Attorney for the Mission Indians, representing the United States Attorney General’s Office. Now, along with Frank D. Lewis of Riverside (who had been appointed a Special Attorney in 1891), Ward would try to win the Warner Ranch case. Downey was represented by State Senator Stephen M. White of Los Angeles. The Merchant’s Exchange Bank of San Francisco (which held the mortgage on the ranch) also had their own attorney in court to look after their interests.

After the usual exchange of preliminary documents, the case was heard by San Diego County Superior Court Judge George Puterbaugh on July 17-18-19,

1893. Downey’s case was simple and to the point. The Warner and Portilla grants had been patented, Downey had purchased the property and paid the taxes on it, and the patents said nothing about any Indians. They were trespassers and should be removed. With that, the plaintiffs rested. Ward and Lewis took a more calculated approach. Their case followed the lines of the Soboba suit. The possessory rights of permanent villages were protected under Mexican law, and the United States in acquiring California under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo (1848) had pledged to uphold Mexican land laws.

This point was clearly understood by the earliest American officials in California. In his 1850 Report on the Subject of Land Titles in California, William Carey Jones wrote, “I understand the law to be that wherever Indian settlements are established, and the Indians till the ground, they have a right of occupancy in the land they need and use; and whenever a grant is made which includes such settlements, the grant is subject to such occupancy….” But when that view proved inconvenient, the government’s attitude began to change. As early as 1852, when the Senate turned down ratification of a series of treaties made with various California tribes, they noted, “that the United States in acquiring possession of the territory of Mexico, succeeded to its rights in the soil; and as that government regarded itself as the absolute and unqualified owner of it, and held that the Indians had no usufructuary or other rights therein, which were to be in any manner respected, that the United States were under no obligations to treat with the Indians, occupying the same, for the extinguishment of their title.”7

Ward and Lewis introduced records from the Mexican archives of the Pico and Warner grants, and copies of U.S. government records relative to them. To prove the Indians long occupancy at Cupa, they placed some of the oldest members of the tribe on the stand to share their memories with the court. Alejandro Barker (at 39 the only registered voter at Cupa) did the translating. A reporter for The San Diego Union wrote,

Being deeply interested in the ultimate outcome of the suit, Barker may consider himself highly honored by the council for the plaintiff, who, in thus allowing him to interpret the remarks of his fellow citizens in a tongue that nobody but himself understood, evinced a faith in his honesty that should be gratifying in the extreme.8

Barker was not well during the trial. An observer from the Women’s National Indian Association says he served “at the risk of his life … and the proceedings had often to be stopped because the effort he made produced hemorrhages from his lungs. But he was too patriotic to give up when so needed by his people.”9 One of the most informative witnesses was Machola Moro, the widow of longtime Cupeño captain José Maria Moro.10 The San Diego Union of July 18, 1893, described her as “a picturesque old Indian woman about 80 years of age [she was closer to 75], who was born on the rancho and who has continuously lived there ever since. She did not speak Spanish … but gave her testimony in the Indian tongue.” In part she said:

The Moro family outside their home at Cupa, 1898. Machola Moro, a key witness at the 1893 removal trial, is standing fifth from the left. Her son-in-law, Adolfo Moro, is wearing a dark vest.The man on the far right may be his son, Domingo Moro. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

I live at Agua Caliente [Cupa] or Warner’s Ranch, right at the Hot Springs; I was born and raised right there…I remember when Juan Largo [Warner] came to live on the ranch, I was about [a] halfgrown woman then.11 There were as many Indians living at Agua Caliente village then as now – a little more then than now – more old people then than now. The Indians then used to live a good deal on acorns and lots of other stuff that grows around the Hot Springs there—grasses and cactus and one thing and another…. Here are some of the different seeds we used to use.12 We got the [acorn] and pounded it on the rocks and put some hot water on it and took the bitterness out of it, and made a kind of mush.

My husband was José Maria Moro; he was the captain of the Agua Caliente village, had control over the people that lived there and advised them to keep quiet and work – [he] was Captain a long time.

The Indians had cultivation at Agua Caliente when I was a little girl, and my husband used to cultivate land. They didn’t farm as much as they do now, because they had nothing to work with. They worked by a small stick with a little piece of iron on top of it and plowed with it by horseback from the horn of the saddle. [They] didn’t farm much, but farmed a little wheat and beans and corn and one thing and another – pumpkins and watermelons….

I remember when the men were kind of broken up. The priests were coming along there, and we had church sometimes and prayed there; whenever the priests got there, we went to the church and prayed. The priest never lived there; he came down from someplace else. The church had a kind of corral—all around it there and big houses all around it, but there was a cross right in the middle, where the church is now—right there standing up. It was not really a church-house, but a big house they kept the grain [in] – a kind of grain-house; they moved the grain and one thing and another, and then would have the church inside sometimes; they brought their children and had church where the cross was.

The big house for keeping grain in was built by some of the men who lived right there at the Hot Springs; under orders from the priests, the Indian men, women and children all worked on it, and built the house. I was never at San Luis Rey Mission while the priest had charge of it.13

A number of early Mexican and American settlers also testified or gave depositions on behalf of the Cupeño. All testified to their long occupation at the hot springs. Pio Pico, the last Mexican governor of California (then 92 years of age) testified that the Cupeño were there when he first visited the springs in 1820. Downey’s attorneys objected to all of this testimony (and in fact all of the evidence introduced on the Indians’ behalf) as irrelevant, arguing that “The possession of the parties…is immaterial to the case, that the patent of the United States Government controls any mere matter of possession.”14 Judge Puterbaugh reserved his ruling, but later their objection was sustained and every single piece of the Cupeño testimony was ruled inadmissible.

In addition to his objection, Senator White cross-examined many of the witnesses, especially on the subject of agriculture: What crops were grown? How big were the fields? How were they irrigated? Ward and Lewis wanted to show that for 50 years the Cupeño had been farmers. White wanted to prove that they had not been so civilized. As for Governor Downey, he was clearly no longer in control of himself or the case. According to court records,

[D]uring its trial three years ago ex-Gov. Downey was present and made himself conspicuous by interposing questions to the witnesses, much to the annoyance of the attorneys on both sides…. Senator White was his attorney, and when this cross-questioning became annoying he would impatiently remind the childish old man that he was trying the case, and that matters would be much facilitated if the ex-governor would keep still.15

At the time of the trial, The San Diego Union was less harsh, noting only “Governor Downey … frequently insisted on putting in a question of his own to the witnesses, but was in each instance checked by Senator White or other friends.”16 In 1896 the Union reported that when Downey didn’t like the answer to one of his questions, he would mutter under his breath “That’s a dum lie.”17

Despite their early confidence, Downey’s lawyers took no chances. After Ward and Lewis rested, they asked to reopen their case and submit further evidence. In reopening their case, Downey’s lawyers wanted to show that Warner’s patent was based on his 1844 grant, not Pico’s 1840 grant, because the Pico grant clearly and expressly protected the possessory rights of the Cupeño, while Warner’s grant did not include the required clause.

Ward and Lewis argued that because Indian possessory rights were always protected under Mexican land laws, the Cupeño’s rights were included in the other protected usages (“servidumbres”) that were cited in the Warner grant. They admitted this was a stretch, but in the Soboba case the court had ruled that Indian occupation was in the same character as a highway – that is, an easement allowing use by others (which is what the term servidumbres technically means).

Downey’s attorneys replied with the astonishing argument that the reason the Indians’ rights were not protected in the Warner grant was because there had not been any Indians living in the valley in 1844. To support their outrageous claim, they introduced into evidence a letter Warner had secured at the time of his grant:

Office of the First Justice of the Peace}
San Diego}
In view of the petition which the party interested remits to this office, I beg to state that the said Valle San José is, and has for the past two years been vacant and abandoned, without any goods nor cultivation on the part of San Diego; but said place belongs at the present time to the said mission, and at petitioner’s request I sign this, in San Diego.

August 6, 1844
Juan Ma. Marron18

As this brief note was cited in each successive court ruling against the Cupeño it deserves closer examination. Under Mexican law, land in use by a mission could not be granted to private individuals. Mission San Diego had for many years kept livestock and raised crops in the southern part of the Valle de San José, as an outpost of their asistencia at Santa Ysabel. The mission had been secularized in 1834, but was still controlled by a government administrator and thus had a nominal claim on the lower valley in 1844. The point of this letter was to clear the way for the Warner grant so far as the mission was concerned. Downey’s lawyers, however, argued that the phrase “vacant and abandoned” showed that there were no Indians living in the valley at the time.

Warner naturally saw through this farce. A week before the trial began, the 85-year-old Warner gave a deposition on behalf of the Cupeño before Stephen White and others in White’s home in Los Angeles. Asked about the letter, Warner apparently had a map of the rancho in front him when he replied:

Let me explain, sometimes we are misled from not understanding certain facts; and now I will tell you so that you may understand this, both you and your client and anybody else. You see, here is the Agua Caliente and there is El Valle de San José. Now El Valle de San José, so far as the mission of San Diego was concerned, had no connection whatever with the Agua Caliente. When I wrote the petition, I was referring to the southern half of the San José Valley; that is a geographical piece of land.19

Hot springs at Warner Ranch. ©SDHC #82:13438.

The northern half of the valley – the Agua Caliente – had long been utilized by Mission San Luis Rey. Even if Marron’s letter meant there were no Indians in ex-Mission San Diego’s territory in 1844 (which it certainly did not), it proved nothing about the village at Cupa. In fact, Warner’s diseño (map) submitted along with his grant application shows the villages of Agua Caliente, San José and Mataguay by name, along with several other unnamed villages. Factually, the issue was clear, but legally it was still in doubt.

After three days of testimony both sides rested. With the testimony completed, the case should have moved along promptly, but then followed a series of delays (both legal and otherwise) which postponed a ruling for almost three and a half years. First, on March 1, 1894, Governor Downey died. Settling his estate was complicated by the fact that for more than a year, no will could be found. Eventually his nephew, J. Downey Harvey, was substituted as plaintiff in the suits. Then shortly after Downey’s death, Senator White asked for additional time to submit proof that Downey had paid all the taxes on the ranch for the previous ten years.

Finally, in November 1895, the cases were transferred from Department II to Department III of the San Diego County Superior Court after Judge Puterbaugh disqualified himself, “owing to having had some connection with the Warner ranch property.”20 Judge Puterbaugh had been an active advocate of the construction of a dam at the bottom of Warners Ranch for years – a project that would require the eviction of the Indians at La Puerta and San José.

Judge W.L. Pierce presided in Department III. He waited more than a year before ruling on the cases, submitting his judgment on December 29, 1896, just days before he retired from the bench. First, he upheld Downey’s lawyers’ objection to all of the evidence entered on behalf of the Cupeño, ruling it inadmissible. The government patent, he held, was conclusive as to property rights. In other words, the Cupeño were left with absolutely no defense in the eyes of the court. “Thus,” Ward and Lewis later wrote, “the entire issue between the parties was and is one of law and not of fact. It is as to the materiality and admissibility of defendant’s evidence, and not as to the sufficiency or weight thereof.”21

Judge Pierce also accepted Downey’s lawyers’ contention that the Cupeño were not residing on the land at time of the occupation of California by the United States in 1846. Indeed, they were not, nor was either of them, nor were the ancestors or ancestor of either of them at the time of the acquisition from the Mexican government by the United States of the territory embraced within the state of California, and for more than thirty years prior thereto, or at all, recognized as Mission or Pueblo Indians by the laws of Spain, Mexico and the United States, and were not in the adverse possession, occupancy or use of the following described land….22

With those two rulings the result was inevitable. The Cupeño and the other villagers on Warners Ranch were told they had no legal right to what had always been their homes. Ward and Lewis immediately filed a motion for a new trial but their request was denied. The only avenue left was an appeal to the California State Supreme Court, but before it could be submitted, a $6,100 bond would have to be filed with the court. The Downey family attorneys assumed that no one would lay out that kind of money on behalf of the Cupeño, but they were wrong. The Indian Rights Association of Philadelphia managed to raise the money in just a few days, and the appeal was filed in June 1897.23

Forced to resume their legal battle, the attorneys for the Downey heirs continued their two-pronged attack: first, there were no Indians on the land at the time of the Warner grant; second, even if there were, any rights they might have once held had been lost in the intricacies of the Federal Land Commission process.

Ward and Lewis stuck to their guns:

Under Mexican law, Warner held the legal title, subject to the easement of the Indians’ possessory rights. The confirmation of this legal title and the issue of the patent therefore in no way changed the character of such title, nor freed it from the easement in favor of the defendants….

Under the Mexican law, no obligation rested upon such Indians as these of acquiring their property rights by specific grant; but such rights were given and protected by the general law of the land, and the United States by treaty guaranteed that it would protect all private property rights existing within the ceded territory.24

The Downey lawyers denied the notion that the Cupeño had any possessory rights descending from Mexican law:

There can be no issue here as to what the law of Mexico authorizes, unless that law was carried into and made a part of the statutory enactments of the United States. The United States as a sovereign [nation] had the power to do whatever it chose with the property acquired from Mexico regardless of any treaty stipulations.25

Yet in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the United States had pledged to protect all land titles in California, and the act authorizing the Land Commission in 1851 had specifically ordered a review of the status of Indian titles so that a determination could be made. There is no record that such a report was ever completed, but during the appeals process the courts operated on the assumption that the requirements of the act had been obeyed, and that the rights of the Indians had been found wanting.

Lewis disagreed:

It was reasonable to suppose that Congress did not intend the provisions of the Act of 1851 to apply to Indians who knew no English, could not read and write, and who knew as little regarding individual or tribal ownership of property as they did of Acts of Congress or of Land Commissioners

It is evident from the fact that Congress in passing the act provided in the sixteenth section, making it the Commissioners’ duty to report on Indian claims, at that time at least, had no intention to bind the Indians by its other provisions….26

No matter, the Downey attorneys argued, “neither treaty nor Congressional act was designed for the benefit of the Indians.” At the time of the Warner grant, they claimed, the Cupeño were “mere outside barbarians – uncapable [sic] of ownership and incapacitated for civilization…. The defendants are not entitled to any consideration here,” they wrote. “They do not belong to civilization. They must be attended to, it is true, and protected, but they cannot interfere with the effect of a patent of the United States.” But the attorneys struck closest to the heart of the matter when they argued:

The courts cannot exercise any direct appellate jurisdiction over the rulings of those officers or of their superior in the department in such matters, nor can they reverse or correct them in a collateral proceeding between private parties…. It would lead to endless litigation, and be fruitful of evil, if a supervisory power were vested in the courts over actions of the numerous officers of the Land Department, on mere questions of fact presented for their determination.27

In other words, what was really at stake here was the obliteration of nearly 40 years’ worth of battles over rancho land titles. If the Cupeño were allowed to go “behind” the patent, and prove a possessory right “on a mere question of fact” that was not originally spelled out in the patent, it would open the door for every single rancho patent to be challenged by other settlers. And it seems clear that the courts had no intention of letting the rights of one small tribe of Indians overturn four decades of high-priced litigation.

Ward and Lewis’ appeal on behalf of the Cupeño focused on six key points:

  • That the rights of Indians under Mexican law were not limited to
    specific grants, but “were protected by the general law of the land.”
  • That under Mexican law, Warner’s grant was subject to the possessory
    right of the Indians.
  •  That by treaty the United States agreed to preserve all existing property
    rights in the ceded territory, “which it is claimed includes the rights of
    these defendants.”
  •  That confirmation of Warner’s grant relieved the Cupeño of the need
    to submit a claim before the Land Commission, since their rights were
    bound up with his by Mexican law.
  •  That the Land Commission decision was between Warner and the
    United States government, and did not affect the Cupeño’s rights in
    relation to Warner’s original grant.
  •  That the 1880 Federal patent to Warner specifically stated it does not
    affect the rights of “third persons.”

The California State Supreme Court finally heard the Indians’ appeal in April 1899, and issued its ruling on October 4 of that same year. Several new justices had been appointed to the court since the days of the Soboba case, and on a split decision the court agreed that the Cupeño and the other villagers had no rights to their homes. Four justices concurred while three (including Chief Justice William Beatty) dissented. The majority decision noted: “Where a grant of land from the Mexican government is confirmed by the United States and a patent issued thereto, such patent is conclusive evidence of title, as against Indians claiming a prescriptive title to the same land.”28

The decision quoted extensively from the Soboba case but maintained that the Cupeño case “differs materially” from it because the land “was vacant and unoccupied at the date of the grant, and in the grant the clause in reference to the rights of the Indians is omitted entirely.” It is “useless,” the judges wrote, to argue that the Warner grant is the same as the Pico grant (which contains the strict clause that he shall “not molest [prejudicar] the Indians that thereon may be established.”). Pico had abandoned his rancho and his rights had been extinguished. The mere protection of servidumbres in the Warner grant “cannot be tortured into” meaning he must not disturb the Indians. The decision relied heavily on the (historically false) contention that the Cupeño were not living at Cupa when the Warner grant was made in 1844, and the Marron letter is quoted in the decision as “proof” of this outlandish claim

In his dissent, Chief Justice Beatty argued that there was no material difference between Byrne v. Alas and this case. He accepted servidumbres as broad enough to include the possessory rights of Indians, and affirmed that Cupeño were living in the valley “long before the date of the Warner grant.” In a concurring dissent, Justice Thomas McFarland added that the Cupeño’s rights existed even without the clause in the Warner grant, and that they were under no obligation to submit their claim to the Land Commission. “They are mere wards of the nation, and it is to be presumed that the nation has always recognized and protected their customary rights, and that all its grants are made with the understanding that the grantees know these rights, and take subject to them.”29

History and legal precedent, however, were not enough to save the Cupeño once the white man decided they wanted their land. D.L. Withington, one of the Downey family attorneys, while welcoming the verdict was mild in his comments to the press: “There is and never has been any indications of any unfairness to the Indians on the part of the owners of the ranch, whose standing in the community is such as to insure the utmost fairness towards the Indians.”30

In other words, the Downey family members were far too prominent to want to appear prejudiced toward the Cupeño—they simply wanted to use the courts to throw them out of their ancestral homes. After the removal, Withington felt free to express a different opinion. Any sympathy for the Cupeño, he wrote, was “misplaced” and irrational. He scoffed at their “morality” (his quotes), claiming that “their chief diversion is gambling,” and insisted that they had “held these springs and lived there without working, as other Indians do, for more than half a century…[and] lived like princes among their fellows off of other people’s property” from the income they received from the hot springs.31

Ward and Lewis immediately asked the court for a rehearing, but their request was denied. That left only two options—the Cupeño and the other villagers could leave their homes or the case could be appealed to the United States Supreme Court. By now, the Warner Ranch case was attracting more and more attention, and so the United States Attorney General’s office stepped in and filed the appeal on behalf of the Cupeño. Shirley Ward went to Washington in March 1901 to help argue the case before the U.S. Supreme Court along with Assistant Attorney General Henry Hoyt. “It is unnecessary to say that Mr. Ward devoted himself to the hearing in the Supreme Court with the same energy, zeal, and ability that he has shown in the previous stages of the case….”32

Hoyt later wrote: “I must confess that I felt very confident after the oral argument that we had impressed the Court.”33 Yet the results were the same. On May 13, 1901, the United States Supreme Court upheld the ruling of the California courts – the Cupeño would have to go. The Court “rested the result upon the legal principles,” and not “upon the merits of the Indians’ claim,” Hoyt summarized: “The Cupeño had lost their homes on a technicality.”34

As before, the Barker case was combined with the Quevas case (“The facts in the cases are so nearly alike that it is sufficient to consider only the first”). The decision (181 U.S. 481) was issued without dissent. Once again the infamous 1844 “vacant and abandoned” letter from Marron was quoted to support the claim that the Cupeño were not on the ranch at the time of the Warner grant. Moreover, the court ruled, even if the Cupeño once had a valid claim, they lost it when they failed to present it for confirmation by the Land Commission in the 1850s. In response to the argument that this policy did not live up to the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the court quoted from their decision in the case of Botiller v. Dominguez (130 U.S. 238):

[S]o far as the act of Congress is in conflict with the treaty with Mexico, that is a matter in which the court is bound to follow the statutory enactments of its own government. If the treaty was violated by the general statute enacted for the purpose of ascertaining the validity of claims derived from the Mexican government, it was a matter of international concern, which the two states must determine….35

In other words, the Cupeño had no standing to question whether the United States Government was living up to the terms of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo; only Mexico could do that in an international court. The Cupeño had been cut off at the knees at every step of the way through the court system. Even if they had held rights under Mexican law, they had lost them because a government clerk had failed to mention them in Warner’s grant. And even if his grant had included the required language, it did not matter because Downey’s attorneys had “proven” that the Cupeño were not living in the valley in 1844. And even if they were living on the ranch then, they had lost their rights when they did not file a claim with the Land Commission in the 1850s – even though the Land Commission was supposed to deal with the rights of Indians separately. And while they could not find any record that the Commission had studied the question of Indian property rights, the courts took it for granted a report had been made, and having not seen it, naturally assumed that it had gone against the Indians. Prominent Indian rights activist Albert Smiley gave a cynical summation of the situation:

One tribe is nicely placed and has water and vineyards and homes occupied for generations; but an ex-governor of California came and saw and coveted, and between him and a purchased judge and an indolent and incapable agent and an indifferent Government they are to be ousted…. All the Mission Indians are ready for civilization, but we will not allow them to be civilized. They are crowded from every foot that will grow a tree or pasture a sheep. The debasing influence of camp life and camp life itself can be eliminated there in five years by the exercise, not of any self-satisfying quality called benevolence, but by the exercise of common honesty.36

In the end, all the legal maneuvering boiled down to the hard, cold fact that the Cupeño had lost. Ward and Lewis had presented the Indians’ claim with clarity and diligence, but all they had managed to do was to delay the inevitable.

What to do?

In 1901, after nearly a decade of legal wrangling and delays, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Cupeño people of San Diego County had no rights to their ancestral homes at Warner Hot Springs. With the decision their fate was sealed. Legally, J. Downey Harvey, whose family owned the Warner Ranch, could have had them evicted from his property the day after the decision was issued, but he agreed not to do anything until Congress had time to act.

The government did make an attempt to buy the village lands, but Harvey refused to sell any smaller parcels, offering only a full 30,000 acres of the ranch for $245,000 – a cost far beyond the government’s willingness to pay (which was probably Harvey’s intent). This would have still left 14,000 acres at the south of the ranch for a reservoir project. In July 1901, the Indian Office recommended that a special inspector be sent out to locate a reservation site. In late November, James McLaughlin finally reached California. He spent a little over a week in the field looking over possible reservation sites. He met with the Cupeño and was struck by how much they loved their old home.

McLaughlin’s eventual choice for a reservation site was the Monserrate Ranch in the hills between Bonsall and Fallbrook, which, he claimed, was “far superior to any [other site] that I have examined.” He recommended purchasing 2,370 acres that were offered to the government for $70,000.37 McLaughlin’s recommendation was initially accepted in Washington, and in January 1902 the Commissioner of Indian Affairs asked Congress for $100,000 to purchase the Monserrate Ranch and to relocate the Cupeño there. That might have been the end of it were it not for a few Southern Californians who were outraged at McLaughlin’s choice. Chief among them was Charles Fletcher Lummis, the influential editor of Out West magazine in Los Angeles. Buying the Monserrate Ranch was a farce, he declared. McLaughlin had seen the land in December when it was green from the first winter rains, but come summer, the ranch was almost completely dry. What’s more, Lummis added, the owners had set an outrageous price. “[T]hese lands had been sold several times, recently, for about one-third what the Government was preparing to pay for them,” he wrote.38

Lummis threw himself into the issue with his customary zeal. Through the pages of Out West and personal letters, Lummis insisted Washington disregard the recommendation of this “tenderfoot” inspector, and authorize a group of knowledgeable Southern Californians to make a proper selection. Besides his magazine, Lummis had another ace up his sleeve – he had attended Harvard University with Teddy Roosevelt. In November 1901, Lummis met with the President. He pushed his old acquaintance hard to get what he wanted. Meanwhile, Senator Thomas Bard of Ventura County introduced a bill to provide the funds for the removal. Approved by the President in May 1902, it required that a Warner’s Ranch Indian Commission be assembled “to assist the Secretary of the Interior in purchasing suitable lands.” Lummis was immediately appointed chairman, joined by San Diego County rancher Russell Allen (another former classmate of Roosevelt’s) and Charles Partridge of Redlands, an active supporter of the Indian Rights movement

In March 1902, when Lummis first learned that the creation of the Commission was likely, he visited Cupa and held a “junta” (as he called it). Lummis was impressed with “The unvexed truth, the simplicity, the directness, the earnestness, and yet the perfect self-control of these aboriginal speeches.” Captain Cecilio Blacktooth’s speech (as translated by Celsa Apapas) has been reprinted many times:

We thank you for coming here to talk to us in a way we can understand. It is the first time anyone has done so. You ask us to think what place we like next best to this place where we always live. You see that graveyard out there? There are our fathers and our grandfathers. You see that Eagle-nest mountain and that Rabbithole mountain? When God made them, He gave us this place. We have always been here. We do not care for any other place. It may be good, but it is not ours. We have always lived here. We would rather die here. Our fathers did. We cannot leave them. Our children born here – how can we go away? If you give us the best place in the world, it is not so good for us as this. The Captain he say his people cannot go anywhere else; they cannot live anywhere else. Here they always live; their people always live here. There is no other place. This is our home. We ask you to get it for us. If Harvey Downey [sic] say he own this place, that is wrong. The Indians always here. We do not go on this land. We stay here. Everybody knows this Indian land. These Hot Springs always Indian. We cannot live anywhere else. We were born here and our fathers are buried here. We do not think of any place after this. We want this place, and not any other place.

“But if the Government cannot buy this place for you, then what would you like next best?” Lummis asked.

There is no other place for us. We do not want you to buy any other place. If you will not buy this place we will go into the mountains like quail, and die there, the old people and the women and children. Let the government be glad and proud. It can kill us. We do not fight. We do what it says. If we cannot live here we want to go into those mountains and die. We do not want any other home.39

Ambrosio Ortega (1867-1922) served as lay reader at
the little Catholic chapel at Cupa when a priest was not
available. ©SDHC #19101.

Lummis then set out to do exactly what Capt. Blacktooth had begged him not to do – to find the Cupeño a new home. The Commission made two tours of inspection through Southern California during the summer of 1902. Traveling with them were two representatives of the Cupeño, “intelligent and representative men,” Ambrosio Ortega and Salvador Nolasquez. All told, the Commission considered 45 possible reservation sites and visited 28 of them. They examined each site, took photographs, measured the water flow, and made copious notes. Among the places considered were parcels at Santa Ysabel, Pauma, Moosa, De Luz, Guajome, Ethanac, Jurupa, San Pasqual, Agua Tibia, and Descanso. Nolasquez and Ortega were often asked their opinion; some of the sites they admitted were nice enough, but they always made it clear that the people wanted to remain at Cupa. During that same summer, Commissioner of Indian Affairs W.A. Jones also visited California, and Lummis arranged for the two Indians to meet him. They renewed their request to remain in the Cupa homes.

On August 28, 1902 the Commission submitted its final report. Their choice was the Pala Valley, where 3,436 acres could be purchased for $46,300. The chief attraction at Pala was water from the San Luis Rey River.40 “So far as is known,” Lummis boasted afterwards, “never before in our history as a nation were Indians moved to better lands than those from which they were

Salvador Nolasquez (1861-1933) served as village captain at both Cupa and Pala. Photo from 1902
when he accompanied the Warner Ranch Indian Commission as one of the representatives of his
people. ©SDHC #19101. dispossessed.”41

The Crying Road

Once the title to the land at Pala was clear, preparations for the actual removal could begin. On April 16, 1903, Lummis, Mission Indian Agent Lucius A. Wright, and other officials arrived at Cupa to discuss removal plans with the Cupeño. They “were received sullenly and almost defiantly” by the people.42 The arrival of Lummis seems to have especially annoyed them. As for Agent Wright, one newspaperman reported, “The Indians do not entirely like him, or trust him, but they feel that he is doing his best. They say that they prefer him a thousand times to Mr. Lummis [to] whom they have taken a strange, unreasoning dislike.”43

In fact, the Cupeño felt they had good reason for disliking Lummis, whom they are said to have dubbed the “Thin Liar.”44 Despite his sincere desire to help the Cupeño find a new home, his tendency to always thrust himself into the center of everything he was involved with made him an easy target for the Indians’ wrath. Still, Lummis and his party had a job to do. First, they expelled all the whites from the area. Then they called a meeting at the schoolhouse. The Cupeño decided to have their own meeting first and arrived an hour late to the meeting. Once they arrived, Agent Wright and government attorney William Collier both tried to explain the government’s position on the removal. Father B. Florian Hahn, the Catholic Priest from Banning who ministered at the village from time to time, and Lummis both called on the Cupeño to go peacefully to their new home over.growing murmurs of discontent.

After listening to all their pleas, Juan Maria Cibimoat (the newly elected captain) rose to complain that the government officials had not kept the Cupeño informed of what was happening, and said his people would never leave their home. And with that the Indians rose as a body and left the room.45 Collier sensed that Capt. Cibimoat’s resolve was not shared by all of his people. “One of the great difficulties we had to encounter,” he explained a few days later, “was the fact that when the Indians have a chief he is their spokesman and nobody but he will say anything.” Many of the other Indians, Collier noted, were not planting crops that spring and some were already pulling out their fences. This, he felt, was good evidence that no matter what Capt. Cibimoat said, they expected to move.46

Rumors quickly began to circulate that Lummis had done more than call for peace—that in fact “he told the Indians that if they did not go to Pala, United States soldiers would shoot them.” Lummis vehemently denied this, but there is no doubt he believed that armed troops would be necessary.47 Lummis and the others left Cupa soon after the meeting, convinced that there was little hope for a peaceful removal. Lummis, for one, believed it would take the army to dislodge the Cupeño. Publicly, he reassured the newspapers that everything would be just fine, but privately, he continued to press for troops.

Some of the papers heard Lummis’ threats. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that Lummis had warned the Cupeño “that if they did not go they would be compelled to do so.”48 The New York Times reported that Lummis, Wright, and the others, had “wired to Washington, reporting that it would be impossible to evict the Indians without the presence of United States troops.”49 Lummis always publicly denied that he had threatened the Cupeño that they would be shot if they would not go to the reservation; while perhaps he did not use those particular words, his meaning was always clear.50

Cecilio Blacktooth, the previous year’s Captain, was in San Bernardino a few days after the meeting with Lummis, and he told a reporter:

We will never give in. Some of our people are scattered among the tribes in Riverside and San Bernardino counties, but the old men and women would not leave, and have begged to be taken above Warners Ranch in the mountains, where they can look down upon the graves of their ancestors.5

Some newspapers portrayed Blacktooth as defiant, and ready to fight or flee. In fact, he was in San Bernardino to buy horses to help the Cupeño move their belongings to Pala. While in town, Blacktooth also visited with attorney John Brown, Jr., who had served as legal counsel to the Cupeño leaders for the past year. Brown continued to insist that a way might still be found for the Cupeño to remain in their homes. This endeared him to the Cupeño, but only complicated matters for the government officials.

Another white man who arrived on the scene about this same time was George L. Lawson, a sometimes newspaper correspondent for the Los Angeles papers who had begun writing some highly dramatic articles about the Cupeño situation the month before. While expressing sympathy for the Cupeño, he also predicted violence if the government tried to move them. The Cupeño (at least some of them) took to Lawson, probably because he said what they wanted to hear – that they should not have to move. At the time, the people were ready to listen to anyone who offered that promise. On the other hand, none of the other Anglos involved with the removal seem to have cared much for Lawson. The Los Angeles Express eventually stopped publishing his dispatches.52

Lummis developed a special dislike for Lawson, an attitude Lawson returned in kind. Lummis publicly called Lawson a “wanton and malicious liar,” and claimed that he was only stirring up trouble at Cupa so that “he might have a sensation and [make] a dollar or two by space writing.”53 Lummis’ attitude was perhaps predictable. He still viewed the protection of the Cupeño as his own private crusade. As for Lawson, he seems to have been sincerely concerned with the Cupeño’s welfare – perhaps even enough to justify in his own mind the exaggerated articles he had been sending to the Los Angeles papers. Reading his diary, one cannot help but get the sense that he rather enjoyed the prominence he came to hold in the eyes of the Cupeño.54

Josephine Babbitt (rear, second from the right) and her students at Pala, 1903. She was soon transferred to another government school. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

As April 1903 drew to a close, the situation looked bleak on all sides. There seemed little hope of moving the Cupeño peacefully, though just what sort of resistance would be mounted remained unclear. The government, however, was still determined that the removal should take place as soon as possible. Grasping at his last straw, attorney John Brown called upon President Roosevelt himself to intervene and stop the removal. Coincidentally, Roosevelt was scheduled to visit Southern California early in May, so Brown sent for Capt. Cibimoat and several other men from the tribe to come to San Bernardino and lay their case directly before the president. It is difficult to judge at this late date what Brown hoped to accomplish. Certainly his sympathy was sincere, but as even he had been forced to admit to Lummis a year before, his legal options were nil. Perhaps he hoped the president could arrange some extra-legal solution, which was highly unlikely.

Meanwhile, the Indian Office made one of its few good decisions in the whole matter. They ordered James E. Jenkins, one of eight Special Inspectors in the Indian Service, to head to San Diego County and take charge of the removal, superseding both Wright and Lummis, who had expected to supervise personally. After Jenkins was appointed, Lummis wisely decided to step back, perhaps finally recognizing how upsetting his presence was to the Cupeño

Inspector James Jenkins (left) and Mission Indian Agencypoliceman Martin Jauro of Soboba pose during the removal.“The only one who was nice was Martin Jauro,” Roscinda Nolasquez recalled,“…he even cried.” Out West, July 1903.

Jenkins proved to be just the right man for the job. He immediately began to make the necessary arrangements for the removal. Instead of soldiers, he hired about 40 local ranchers and teamsters to transport the Cupeño and their belongings. They began arriving on the ranch around May 8 or 9, set up a temporary camp about half a mile from the village along the banks of Agua Caliente Creek, and settled in to wait for the word to go. Jenkins had already been at Cupa for several days, doing his utmost to convince the Cupeño that their removal was not only inevitable, but was in fact best for them. He enlisted whatever support he could get for his thankless task – Josephine Babbitt, the teacher at the government school; Domingo Moro, the Indian policeman at Cupa;55 and even George Lawson.

Either the repeated threats of what would happen if they would not go, or the repeated promises of a better life at Pala began to wear down the resistance of some of the Cupeño. Jenkins definitely had a certain element of fear on his side. Lawson noted in his diary that a few days before the removal, when Jenkins went down to the Warner Ranch store, the Cupeño were afraid that Jenkins was going to telephone for troops. This fear of attack was probably a factor in convincing the Cupeño to go peacefully. Jenkins showed great tact in his dealings with the Cupeño, but there was never any doubt in his mind what he had been sent to do. He could be patient, but ultimately he expected to be obeyed. His diplomacy seems to have been helped along by the absence of Capt. Cibimoat and the other most vocal opponents of the removal, who had gone to San Bernardino as part of John Brown’s futile scheme to try to secure a reprieve directly from President Roosevelt.

Brown was not without influence in San Bernardino. On May 8 he arranged to have the Cupeño leaders meet the president as he toured the city. Capt. Cibimoat, Salvador Nolasquez, Ambrosio Ortega, and two other men were there, but they were not allowed to speak to the president, simply shake his hand. The same night that the men met the president, a runner arrived in San Bernardino to announce that removal was imminent. Jenkins, in fact, had planned to begin the next day, but then agreed to wait until the delegation in San Bernardino could return. Cibimoat, Ortega, and Blacktooth set off for Cupa as soon as they got the news. The other men followed soon after. The outcome seemed inevitable, but Cibimoat still had a few cards left to play.

Cibimoat and his two companions reached Cupa late Saturday night. According to Lawson, when they discovered how well Jenkins had succeeded at convincing the Indians to move they were furious. Told that the removal was now set to begin on Monday, May 11, 1903, Capt. Cibimoat tried to stall. He called a meeting of the people and told them that he had talked with President Roosevelt and claimed that Salvador Nolasquez was coming soon with a paper that would let them keep their homes. Later (according to Lawson), Cibimoat changed his story, and said that it was John Brown who had this all-important paper. Then Cibimoat and Ambrosio Ortega rode off to Mesa Grande to call Brown and beg him to come

Inspector Jenkins immediately saw through Cibimoat’s bluff. He called another meeting for 7:30 that same Sunday night, but only five Indians showed up—then promptly left—saying they would not meet without Capt. Cibimoat present. Jenkins agreed they would meet again in the morning. Agent Wright, who had been keeping a low profile for several days, left the ranch about this time to supervise arrangements at Pala. Whatever moves were left to be played, there was no doubt in his mind what the final outcome would be.

Cibimoat and Ortega waited three hours at Mesa Grande to get a connection to San Bernardino, but around 9 p.m. they finally got through to John Brown, who promised to come at once. Returning to Cupa, the men held another late-night meeting with the villagers. Later still—Lawson claimed – Cibimoat crept over to the schoolhouse in the darkness and sat talking with Josephine Babbitt long into the night. The next morning, May 11, 1903, Jenkins was ready to begin the removal. He roused the teamsters up early and they hitched up their teams and got ready to finally move their wagons into the village itself. Before they set out, “Mr. Jenkins exhorted the teamsters to behave with good judgment.”56 All of the men had been sworn in as deputies for the duration. Many carried side arms or had rifles stowed under their wagon seats. Most were glad to be on their way. They had not planned on so many delays, and some were running low on food for themselves and their horses. With Jenkins on the seat of the lead wagon, the teams pulled into the village around 7:30 in the morning, and spread out up and down the main street.

News reports of the Cupeño response to this “aggressive move” (as the Los Angeles Times termed it) vary considerably. Citing an eyewitness, the Times reported on May 12, “when the Indians saw the white men and wagons coming they locked and barred the doors of their cabins and threatened to shoot anyone who should dare to disturb them.” Joseph Schirmer, the Riverside Daily Press correspondent (one of the few reporters actually on the scene), wrote that there was little response, and noted that some of the adobes already had piles of furniture, boxes, and bedding in front of them, ready to go. When Cibimoat came out of his house, a group of Indians rushed over to talk with him. Jenkins joined the group, and continued to press his reasons why they must move. Cibimoat replied that they would not go before John Brown arrived. Jenkins relented and agreed to give them until noon, but then they would have to begin packing, Brown or no. According to Lawson, an air of suspense hung over the village for the rest of the morning.

Meanwhile, John Brown was driving hard from San Bernardino to Cupa.

Along the way he passed Agent Wright on his way to Pala. “I wondered what he was up to,” Wright later told a reporter.57 Brown finally reached Cupa around 1:30 p.m. and immediately sat down with Capt. Cibimoat and the other leaders. Of course he had no “paper” from President Roosevelt, and he told the men that there was now nothing left to do but go peacefully. Schirmer reported that this brief meeting, “left a gloomy look on the dusky faces” of the village leaders.58

Their business concluded, Brown, Cibimoat, Judge Pasqual, Blacktooth, and Ambrosio Ortega went up to the schoolhouse to discuss matters with Inspector Jenkins. Afterwards, Jenkins called one last meeting of the tribe to settle the matter once and for all. John Brown spoke first. He suggested that Jenkins display his credentials to the Cupeño, and stress that he was charged by the president to carry out the removal. Brown told the people that he had done all that he could and advised them to go peacefully. Next, Laura Cornelius, an Oneida Indian teaching at thCapt. Cibimoat gave a passionate speech, stressing that the springs at Cupa had always been their home, and claiming again that there was nothing for them at Pala and that they would all starve there. “The Captain maintained to the last that he would rather die than be moved,” Schirmer reported in the Riverside Daily Press on May 14, “but one could see the bottom had gone out of the opposition and his following had forsaken him.”e Sherman Indian boarding school in Riverside, pleaded with the villagers to trust the government to take care of them.59

Jenkins also saw this. According to Lawson, he asked Cibimoat if he was no longer acting as captain, since he seemed to be speaking only for himself. Perhaps, Jenkins suggested, each man present should be allowed to speak for himself as well. “Yes,” Cibimoat shrewdly replied, “ask them if they would rather stay here or go to Pala.” Jenkins ignored that suggestion, knowing full well what the answers would be. While many of the Cupeño were ready to move, certainly none of them wanted to move. Instead, Jenkins kept his attention focused on Capt. Cibimoat, reminding him that he had promised to do what was right if Jenkins would wait for John Brown to arrive. Cibimoat replied that he would break that promise. Now Jenkins had had enough. According to Lawson, he rose and said he had been patient long enough, and now he expected them to obey the government and Capt. Cibimoat to keep his promise. With that said, Jenkins made a dignified retreat.

The meeting ended somewhat inconclusively, but later that evening Capt. Cibimoat and some of the other men came to see Jenkins to tell him that they would keep their promise and go peacefully to Pala. They did demand a few parting arrangements. The government would have to agree to pay for all their crops and trees at Cupa, and before they left they wanted to visit the graveyard one last time, and to take the church bell with them to Pala. Jenkins agreed to all these things, and questions seemed finally settled. There was a continuous hustle and bustle all through the village that night as the Cupeño made final preparations to leave their old homes.

During the course of the negotiations, Jenkins made a number of promises to the Cupeño. “[A]mong these promises were a better home with plenty of water and better houses to live in and farming tools and food until such houses were constructed, and pay for their crops, and pay for their work…at their new home.”60 Some years later, Carolina Nolasquez recalled that Jenkins “said that here [at Pala] they would give us houses, and then cattle, horses, he would give us something good upon bringing us here. Brown said that it would be all right for us to come down here. And we said ‘All right.’”61 While Jenkins certainly deserves praise for his patience and diplomacy, Joseph Schirmer gave even higher praise to the Cupeño, “who with the enemy in their camp… held their anger and sorrow in rein, and finally manfully succumbed to the inevitable.”62

Tuesday, May 12, 1903, dawned bright and pleasant, but before long the temperature began to rise and by mid-morning it was clear it was going to be a hot day. All through the village the Cupeño were rushing to finish packing everything they owned for the move to Pala – furniture, clothing, kitchen items, pets, plants, chickens, even lumber and window frames.

Eleven-year-old Roscinda Nolasquez always remembered the confusion of that last morning at Cupa, with Jenkins giving orders in English, which most of the Cupeño could not understand. “We were so scared,” she said. “We didn’t know what he was saying. We didn’t know what was going on. We saw old people running back and forth. We cried, too, because we were afraid.”63 Roscinda struggled that morning to make sure her cats would not be left behind. They were finally rounded up and shut up in a box. In a 1962 interview she recalled:

People came from La Mesa, from Santa Ysabel, from Wilakal, from San Ignacio they came to see their relatives. They cried a lot. And they just threw our belongings, our clothes, into carts, chairs, cups, plates. They piled everything on the carts.64

There were many tears that morning, especially when the people made their last visit to the graveyard below the chapel. “They went to the cemetery,” Roscinda recalled, “there they wept. Then it was time to move out. Still they did not move. They could not move outside [the cemetery], they stayed there by the gate.”65 In the midst of death, there was life. On the very day of the removal, Celsa Apapas gave birth to a baby boy, whom she named James Edward Jenkins Apapas. A calf born that same day was named Lummis.66


Manuela Cibimoat strikes a defiant pose for the photographer on the day of the removal. She refused to go, and fled to the hills only to be brought to Pala later by some of the Cupeño men. Out West, July 1903.

A few Indians put on a show of defiance – at least in words. Capt. Cibimoat and some of the other men stood together on a brushy hillside above the village, looking down on their homes. “Old Salvador [Nolasquez] declared that the Pala lands which he had visited are poor and dry,” the Los Angeles Times reported, “and that they would have to tie him to take him.” Capt. Cibimoat still expressed the hope that the Cupeño would just be left alone. “We are not lame or blind,” he said. “We can work. We don’t want help.” But with the removal going on before his very eyes, even Cibimoat’s resolve was crumbling. “Driven into the last corner,” the Times reported, “Cibimoat turned away and wept.”67

The most blatant act of defiance that morning came from another Cibimoat, Manuela Cibimoat, one of the oldest women in the village. Rather than face removal, she fled to the hills, where the reporters all imagined her dying a slow death in some forgotten part of the mountain.68 In fact, Manuela Cibimoat did not die on the mountain. According to Roscinda Nolasquez, shortly after the Cupeño arrived at Pala her father and her uncle “went after her, and they brought her back. She died [later], and she’s buried here [at Pala].”69

Reporter Grant Wallace of the San Francisco Bulletin could not just stand by and cover the day’s events. He tried to help out where he could. “While I helped lay reader Ambrosio [Ortega]’s mother to round up and encoop a wary brood of chickens,” he later wrote,

I observed the wife [Jacinta] of her other son, Jesus, throwing an armful of books – spellers, arithmetics, poems – into the bonfire, along with bows and arrows, and superannuated aboriginal brica-brac. In reply to a surprised query, she explained that now they hated the white people and their religion and their books. Dogged and dejected, Captain Cibemoat [sic] with his wife, Ramona, and little girl, was the last to go. While I helped him to hitch a bony mustang to his top buggy, a tear or two coursed down his knifescarred face; and as the teamsters tore down his little board cabin wherein he kept a restaurant, he muttered, “May they eat sand!”70

Wallace’s description is reminiscent of the old tale that Cibimoat placed a “curse” on the hot springs before leaving. Roscinda spoke of the curse more than once. “They put a curse on it [Warners], that’s why everything’s going down.”71 Once, on a visit to Cupa, she showed me the very spot at Cupa where she said it was done, saying that Cibimoat “kicked, kicked, kicked – three times – and spit.” Some people attributed the many financial problems of the Warner Hot Springs resort over the years to this curse, as well as the death of cattle baron Walter Vail in 1906 while he was leasing Warners Ranch. Vail died after being crushed between two street cars in Los Angeles. Others maintain that Capt. Cibimoat lifted the curse in 1917, when he attended the rededication of the Chapel of St. Francis at Warners

Before leaving their homes, the Cupeño were given one last chance to visit the graveyard below the chapel. Roscinda Nolasquez’s grandmother, Mercedes Nolasquez, is standing near the center in the light-colored apron and bandana. Out West, July 1903.

The real curse, however, was about to be enacted “in the name of the law.” By mid-morning on May 12, every wagon was loaded and ready to go. A number of the Cupeño had already set off in “their own light wagons and drove rapidly away ahead of the wagon train toward Pala, too proud and heartsick to witness the desecration of their ancient homes.”72 Jenkins also set off for Pala ahead of the wagons, leaving the teamsters more or less in charge. Judd Tripp, one of those teamsters, later recalled:

There were 30 or 40 teams went up there to get those Indians. I had a two-horse team…and you’d get $5 a day per wagon and team…. I picked up old Cayatan… I got his outfit to haul. He had some great big old round rocks [mortars], you know, and other stuff … that was a heck of load! But most of … the Indians they didn’t have enough to make a load…. Most of the Indians had their own horses, some of them had rigs … a little old spring wagon or something, with a team of their own. But most all the stuff they had to move, we moved.73

A little after 10 a.m. John Brown climbed up onto the seat of the lead wagon next to Ambrosio Ortega, and shouted “Vamoose Pala!” and the journey began. Capt. Cibimoat was the last to leave. “We will go to Pala,” he said, “but I cannot say that we will stay.”74

“INDIANS BUNDLED AWAY LIKE CATTLE TO PALA,” read the banner headline in the Los Angeles Times the next day (much to Jenkins’ disgust). “There was no trouble at all at leave-taking,” Jenkins told a reporter. “We gave the Indians about all the time they asked, and when they decided to go with us, we were ready to take them…. All of the drivers are sworn in as officers. I have left the caravan in charge of them. But they do not need any one to watch out for them; they are as peaceable as lambs. While regretting to leave their old home, they are perfectly willing to go.”75

Mesa Grande pioneer and photographer Ed Davis, a friend of many of the local Indians, secured permission to visit Cupa two weeks later to view the aftermath of the removal. He found everything in a “chaotic condition,” with the village full of empty cans and boxes, rubbish, and other odds and ends. The ranch cowboys had already come through and shot all the stray dogs and cats that had been left behind.76

When the wagons reached the village of Puerta la Cruz, a few miles down the road, several other wagons were waiting there to join the sad procession. It was a different story at Mataguay and San José. When the teamsters arrived early that morning, they found the villages deserted. The inhabitants—two families at Mataguay and three at San José—had fled. Some of the Mataguay villagers were later gathered up. “Only one village,” the Los Angeles Times reported, “San Jose, with its dozen unbleached American citizens, escaped. Its captain, on seeing the heavy farm wagons approaching to carry away his people’s lares and penates, fled up the mountain side and hid among the greasewood, and his people said they would go, but not to Pala, but would rather die in the cañons. They will be fetched later.”77 La Puerta was removed even later.

The Warner Ranch Indian removal was widely covered in newspapers and magazines across the country in 1903. Los Angeles Daily Times, May 13, 1903.

Stopping for lunch near the edge of the ranch, Grant Wallace noted that the Cupeño “lingered long on the last acre of Warner’s Ranch, as though loath to go through the gates.”78

Roscinda Nolasquez rode in a buggy with some of her family. “It was a hard trip,” she recalled, “…they wouldn’t let us stop to drink water.”79 Being thirsty most of the way was always one of Roscinda’s strongest memories of the trip. “We were all crying,” she said on another occasion, but “the drivers were all laughing and singing.”80 Trailing along behind the caravan, a group of the young men on foot drove the Indians’ cattle and horses.

The Cupeño camped at Oak Grove that first night out, alongside the old Butterfield stage station. They were offered food from the government, but many refused the rations out of self-respect. They were not beggars; they needed no charity. Others refused because of rumors that circulated through the camp. “Don’t eat anything,” Roscinda remembered hearing that night, “because they might poison you.

The next morning, the Cupeño were roused up for an early breakfast. By 6 a.m. they were back on the road. “They kept going westward,” Roscinda recalled. “They did not look back again.”82 Lunch that day was at Dripping Springs and by evening the caravan had reached the lower end of the Pauba Valley, a few miles south of Temecula. As it often does, a low fog hung over the valley that night. Jenkins bought a cow from the Pauba ranch which was slaughtered and barbecued for dinner, and Luiseño from the nearby Pechanga Reservation (who had themselves been “removed” almost 30 years before) came with oranges and other small gifts.

On Thursday, May 14, the Cupeño started on the last leg of their journey, down the canyon below where Pala Road (S16) now runs. The wagons were strung out along the steep, dusty grade, but by 9 a.m. they began slowly rolling into Pala. “Why do we stop here?” some asked. Capt. Cibimoat finally came – the last to arrive. “Is this home?” he asked. “No muy bueno,” he exclaimed, and broke down and cried.83 Seventy-five years later, Roscinda Nolasquez still remembered her first impression: “It was dirty,” she said, “nothing but trees. We had no homes … we had nothing, we had nothing to eat.”84

The Indians huddled together, wondering what to do next. Grown men were in tears. Then a red racer snake (paxa’a in Cupeño) darted through the crowd, breaking the tension. Hoping to further defuse the moment, Jenkins asked the Cupeño to help set up the 40-odd tents that would be their homes for the next six months. None of them had expected to go from living in solid adobe homes to canvas tents. “They promised us good homes,” Roscinda said, yet there they were, camping down by the river “like gypsies.” Over the coming weeks, she said, many of the natives became sick. “At Cupa,” she said, “we were never sick, because we were bathing [in the hot springs] every day.”85

The arrival at Pala, May 15, 1903. Some of the Indians accompanied the wagon train in buggies; others rode horseback. The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Water was another pressing issue. Before the first afternoon was out, Capt. Cibimoat, “with Cecilio Blacktooth, the former chief, Domingo Moro, Amroso [sic—Ambrosio] Ortega and Salvador Nolasquez went to the banks of the San Luis Rey River where a solemn powwow was held. The river’s waters were tested and its course was followed with particular care. The verdict was that it was good.”86 Still, it was not their beloved hot springs

For his part, James Jenkins was pleased with how the removal went, especially since he had not had to resort to violence. Lummis, whom The San Diego Union (May 14, 1903) claimed was still “bitterly disappointed over his lack of success in bringing about the removal himself,” maintained that Jenkins’ apparent success was based as much on good luck as any talent he might possess, and still insisted that soldiers should have been called in. The removal at San Felipe was in stark contrast to the Warner Ranch removal. On September 4, 1903, Mission Indian Agent L.A. Wright arrived with another group of teamsters. There were no reporters, no photographers, no concerned onlookers. Wright called the Cupeño peoples together, told them the time for their removal had come, and gave them just a few hours to think it over.

Ed Davis, who followed the San Felipe removal closely, later wrote: “After three hours of persuasion, with eighteen four-horse teams waiting outside, patience ceased to be a virtue, and the agent began operations by smashing in the locked door of the Capitan’s house, with an axe, and ordering the contents to be loaded immediately onto the waiting wagons.”87

As at Cupa, the 35 or so villagers’ possessions were loaded onto a line of 18 wagons, and the caravan set off for Pala late that same day. They spent three nights on the road, near Santa Ysabel, at Oak Grove, and on the Pauba Ranch before reaching Pala on September 7, 1903. Among the new arrivals was Juanita Cuero. The next day, she wrote a letter to her brother, saying:

[T]his land promised of Pala is nothing but a pure lie because they have seen nothing but a narrow valley between mountains without having arrived at any green field as they had promised them and that they had put [up] for them for the first night seven tents in place of ten but that probably tomorrow they were going to put ten [up] for them and that her mother wanted to come back right away and that the man who has charge of the Indians, he had said that she could return from there but that it would gain more for her to wait to take her piece of land… but [she felt] that San Felipe was where it was very much better for them….88

A group of men visited the San Luis Rey River soon after their arrival at Pala. “Felt better when they saw the water at Pala,” read the original caption when this photo was published in Out West magazine in 1903.
Little did they suspect the decades of battles over water yet to come. Out West, July 1903.

Coffin Houses and Water Issues

Reservation life presented many challenges for the Cupeño, and it would be years before they adjusted to their fate. They were strangers in a strange land, and it was a long time before they began to feel at home. The major concern at Pala in 1903 was how to house the new arrivals. The trouble started when the government rejected the idea that the Indians simply be allowed to build their own adobe houses. They also rejected the suggestion that the government provide lumber for the people to build wooden homes for themselves. Apparently the Indian Office wanted to give the Indians their new homes, to emphasize the fact that the government was going to provide for their needs – and that they were now in charge. “[I]t is time they were taught that the Government has some voice in the affairs of the reservation,” newly appointed Pala Indian Agent Charles E. Shell wrote.89 But by trying to assert their dominance, the government made a massive blunder. Someone in Washington decided it would be best to purchase pre-fabricated buildings for use on the reservation – the Ducker Patent Portable Houses.

The Ducker Patent Portable House had been designed for vacation use at summer resorts in the East; they had thin board and batten walls, and a layer of tarpaper over a wooden roof. Fully assembled, they were just 12 x 22 feet (264 square feet), and were meant to be divided into two or three rooms. Special Agent C.E. Kelsey bordered on the sarcastic in his 1906 report on the houses:

A number of the old portable houses still stood on the Pala Reservation in the 1950s. ©SDHC: UT #8248-219.

[T]hings were rather at a standstill until the brilliant idea was evolved of getting temporary houses for the Indians to live in permanently. The Indians were inclined to be mutinous and openly threatened to return to Warner’s Ranch. There was evident need for haste, so fifty portable houses were ordered by telegraph, – from New York. The order seems to have been filled in due course of business, and the delay in coming by freight, more than 4,000 miles, was no greater than usual with transcontinental freight, but as a time-saving device, it was hardly a success. It was nearly six months before the Indians got into the houses. The expense was double what wooden cabins built on the spot would have been, and about four times the cost of adobes. There would be less room to cavil at this purchase if the houses were fairly adapted to the purpose for which they were bought. The houses are well enough constructed for the purpose for which they are advertised and sold, that is for a temporary house, or wooden tent. As a permanent dwelling place for human beings they are far from satisfactory. Being composed of but a single thickness of board three-quarters of an inch thick, they are hot in summer and cold in winter. The California sun has sprung the narrow strips composing the panels and made cracks in about every panel. The sun has also warped the roof panels and injured the tarred paper, which constitutes the rain-shedding part. The houses are neither dust-proof, nor water-proof, and are far inferior to the despised adobes.90

The first 30 Ducker Patent Portable Houses began arriving in October 1903,91 and it was immediately evident that this would not be enough, so 20 more were ordered, but 50 were nowhere near enough. In the spring of 1904 Agent Shell reported that there were still six families without any home at all. In 1906 the 49 houses then standing (one had already been destroyed in a wind storm) were home to 236 people – 156 of them over the age of 18. Most of the tiny homes had at least five residents; some had as many as nine.92 Publicly, Shell was bland: “There was some grumbling about the size of these buildings and’ their airiness, but that has generally subsided.”93 Nevertheless in his reports to the Indian Office, Shell was blunt:

[T]hese houses are very unsatisfactory. I feel safe in saying that there is not a side section [of any] house that is not open admitting both light and wind when the wind blows which is most of the time here. People who visit do criticize them…. During a recent dust storm the floors of these houses were covered with dust which blew through the cracks. This deficiency could not be seen until the houses were put together. If they have not yet been paid for I would suggest that an inspector be sent here to look at them.94

The government refused. As late as 1944, 26 of the Ducker Patent Portable Houses were still in use. Today, not a single one survives. The other key issue on the new Pala Reservation was water. Soon after the Indians’ arrival, a shallow ditch was dug to irrigate some of the lands on the south side of the San Luis Rey River, but most of the reservation farm lands lay to the north. Eventually the Indian Office appropriated the money to build a large cement-lined ditch north of the river. The new ditch was completed in May 1913, and the Cupeño celebrated with a fiesta. The blessing of the work was given by the priests from Mission San Luis Rey.

An abundance of water had been one of the major factors in selecting Pala for a reservation site, but as soon as the Warner Ranch was cleared of Indians (by moving them to Pala) plans could finally move ahead to dam the San Luis Rey River – thus depriving Pala (and the other downstream reservations) of much of the water supply that had made it attractive in the first place. After more than 30 years of talk by various promoters, it was William G. Henshaw who finally got the dam built in 1922 and once the floodgates were closed, the flow of the San Luis Rey River has never been the same. The water issue was finally settled in 2015.95


Many well-meaning people heaved a collective sigh of relief once the removal of the Warner Ranch Indians was complete. A tragic situation, they felt, had been averted. It seems as if some of them simply could not see the removal from the Indians’ point of view. Their former attorney, Frank Lewis, commented, “The loss to these Indians is a sentimental rather than a material one, for the land secured for them at Pala is better in every way than that which they were forced to leave.”96

But sentiment is also real, as those who have been forced from their homes know. When the Cupeño arrived at Pala, there were at least a score of newspapermen and photographers present. Most left within a day or two, but Grant Wallace stayed on. “At the end of my two weeks stay among them,” he later reported, “I found that many of the older people were still ‘muy triste’ [very sad]. They had not yet ceased wasting fresh tears over old griefs, and still their sorrow’s crown of sorrow is remembering happier things’, for their love of home is stronger than with us.”97

For the Cupeño who were driven from their homes, the removal of 1903 was the defining moment of their lives. They seldom spoke of it, Roscinda Nolasquez said. The memories were just too painful. Even more than 80 years later, the memories of the removal were old wounds for Roscinda that she hated to reopen, but she did so that her people—so that all of us—would not forget.

At Cupa we lived well. And now, having lost our homes, we must live here at Pala today. I don’t know if our homes are any good, but here we are. —Roscinda Nolasquez, 196298

1. The Trail of Tears refers to the forced removal of the Cherokee Indians by President Andrew
Jackson during 1838 and 1839.
2. See Michael Wilken-Robertson, Kumeyaay Ethnobotany: Shared Heritage of the Californias. San
Diego: Sunbelt Publications, 2018.
3. Los Angeles Times, May 5, 1889.
4. See Jim Downs, The Real World of Mission San Luis Rey, San Luis Rey: Old Mission San Luis
Rey Historic Foundation, 2014.
5. Cecil C. Moyer in Historic Ranchos of San Diego. San Diego: Union Tribune Publishing Co., 1969,
pp. 11-14, gives a good summary of Warner’s role in acquiring the ranchos.
6. The San Diego Union, April 29, 1888. In Byrne (74 Cal. 628), the court held that the Indians had
a valid possessory right, in spite of the patent, so long as they were in possession of the land
at the time of the signing of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848.
7. Both quoted in Charles Seymour, “Relations Between the United States Government and the
Mission Indians of Southern California” (master’s thesis, University of California Berkeley,
8. The San Diego Union, July 19, 1893.
9. Women’s National Indian Association Missionary Report for 1897. Her description suggests
tuberculosis. Barker died in 1896 (Los Angeles Times, September 15, 1896).
10. As early as 1851, Moro commanded the Cupeño when Captain Antonio Garra was away. He
served as captain throughout the 1860s and ‘70s until his death in 1885 (The San Diego Union,
July 31, 1885).
11. “Juan Largo” (Long John) was a common nickname for 6’3” tall J.J. Warner, who came to the
valley in 1843 or 1844.
12. At this point, according to the Transcript on Appeal (p. 68), “Witness opens [a] package and
shows various kinds of seeds of wild grasses, fragments of cactus, and various other products
of the soil and seeds that they lived upon there.”
13. J. Downey Harvey … vs. Allejandro [sic] Barker, et al. … Transcript on Appeal (1897), p. 68.
14. San Diego County Superior Court records (Case #6919).
15. Ibid.
16. The San Diego Union, July, 19, 1893.
17. The San Diego Union, December 30, 1896 (I presume the reporter meant “damn lie,” which
one did not say in newspapers in 1896). Downey’s health and state of mind had never been
quite the same since a railroad accident in 1883 where he was severely injured and his first
wife was killed.
18. Transcript on Appeal, p. 41.
19. Reconstructed from the trial transcript and the Transcript on Appeal, p. 78. In 1840, Juan Maria
Osuna, the administrator of the ex-Mission San Diego wrote: “I declare that the land of Agua
Caliente is the property of San Luis Rey… which is contiguous with the Rancho of San José”
(Joseph Hill, The History of Warner’s Ranch and its Environs. Los Angeles: privately printed, 1927,
p.108). On December 18, 1827 the priests at San Diego reported that the mission controlled “from
the Valle de San José to the laguna called Agua Caliente…a stretch of two leagues, on which
the cattle of the mission are pastured and also the sheep.” Just four days later, Father Peyri
at Mission Luis Rey wrote that his mission had a rancho “at a distance of sixteen leagues… a
district reserved for sheep, which is famous for its warm springs. There pasture also the flocks
of Mission San Diego.” Pico’s 1840 grant was for “the place … known by the name of Agua
Caliente, included in the lands of San Luis Rey.” Quoted in Hill, Warner’s Ranch, pp. 36-37.
20. Transcript on Appeal, p. 104. “Between about 1888 and 1892 Judge George Puterbaugh and
his associates … made an earnest and sustained effort to develop the north coastal region
of San Diego County by the construction of a dam at Warner’s Ranch itself, on the San Luis
Rey River.” (Hill, Warner’s Ranch, p. 170). A year after the case was heard, Judge Puterbaugh
was still boosting the reservoir plan at public meetings (The San Diego Union, July 10, 1894).
21. J. Downey Harvey… vs. Allejandro [sic] Barker et al. … Brief of Defendants and Appellants (1898),
p. 6 (their italics).
22. Transcript on Appeal, p. 24.
23. The Indian Rights Association was founded in 1882, and posted the bond for the Soboba
appeal. After the Cupeño case was settled by the U.S. Supreme Court, Commissioner of Indian
Affairs W.A. Jones tried unsuccessfully to get Congress to cover the cost of the appeal bond,
then Downey’s heirs sued the Indian Rights Association for interfering and secured roughly
half of the bond ($2738) as damages (Out West, January, 1903).
24. J. Downey Harvey… vs. Allejandro [sic] Barker et al. … Reply Brief of Defendants and Appellants
(1898), pp. 50-51.
25. Ibid., p. 10.
26. Overland Monthly, August, 1903, p. 173. Lewis was misinformed (or indulging in hyperbole) to
suggest that the Cupeño had no notion of “individual or tribal ownership of property.” Clan
ownership of land, especially, was controlled by long custom and tradition.
27. Respondents’ Points and Authorities, pp. 12, 27-28, 53, 59.
28. Harvey et al. v. Barker et al., The Pacific Reporter, Vol. 58. St. Paul: West Publishing Co., 1899, p. 692.
29. Byrne v. Alas, 74 Cal. 628, 16 Pac. 523.
30. The San Diego Union, November 3, 1899.
31. The San Diego Union, July 13, 1903. “Misplaced sympathy and, still worse, that sympathy which
springs from the imagination and not from the reasoning powers is destructive of a healthy
public sentiment,” he wrote.
32. Nineteenth Annual Report of the Executive Committee of the Indian Rights Association for the Year
Ending December 6, 1901 (1902), p. 9. For the full text of the Supreme Court decision, see
33. Ibid.
34. Ibid.
35. Botiller v. Dominguez is still the ruling precedent. In it the court took a much stricter view than
the California Supreme Court had in the Soboba case. It requires that every claim, Indian
or otherwise, had to be presented to the Land Commission. Yet as Ward and Lewis pointed
out, Botiller concerns an entire land grant that was never submitted to the Commission, and
the “third parties” contesting it were Anglo squatters – which has no connection whatsoever
with the Cupeño case.
36. Report of the Superintendent of Indian Schools (1898), p. 24. Smiley is not named in this report,
but is described as “a leading member of the Board of Indian Commissioners” who helped
establish new reservations in Southern California.
37. McLaughlin’s report is included in a Congressional report on “Relief of Certain Mission
Indians in California.” (Senate Report #469, 57th Congress, 1st Session, February 14, 1902).
38. Out West, April, 1903.
39. Ibid. April, 1902, pp. 473-75.40. The report (written by Lummis) is quoted extensively in Out West in April (pp. 440-455) and
May (pp. 589-602) 1903.
41. Out West, April 1903.
42. The Riverside Daily Press, April 22, 1903.
43. The San Diego Union, May 11, 1903.
44. Edward H. Davis, “Agua Caliente Ind. Removal,” manuscript notes, April 19, 1903 (microfilm,
envelope 7, journal 5), San Diego History Center Research Archives.
45. Wright had a stenographic record made of the meeting, which he enclosed in a letter to the
Commissioner of Indian Affairs on April 21, 1903 (copy in the Lummis Papers, Braun Research
Library, Autry Museum). For a newspaper account, see the Riverside Daily Press, April 22, 1903.
See also the Davis “Agua Caliente Ind. Removal” notes. It was said that Cibimoat was the
only man willing to serve as captain during this tragic year.
46. The Riverside Daily Press, April 22, 1903.
47. For the rumors (and Lummis’ denial), see Los Angeles Times, May 2, 1903. A white visitor at the
springs was told by the Indians that Lummis said “if they would not go soon, he would order
the soldiers to come and tear down their houses, and if they still resisted, they would be shot
down.” The San Diego Union, April 24, 1903. See also The San Francisco Chronicle, April 24, 1903.
48. The San Francisco Chronicle, April 19, 1903.
49. The New York Times, June 14, 1903.
50. Elsinore Press, May 8, 1903. In April 1903 Lummis wrote to the Commissioner of Indian
Affairs: “…if we have 20 U.S. Regulars who wear their credentials in the blue on their backs,
who need no papers, who are used to guns and to keeping their fingers off the trigger until it
has to be, I believe we can still perform this difficult task without any incident which will go
down in history as a sorrow and disgrace.” Quoted in Mark Thompson, American Character,
The Curious Life of Charles Fletcher Lummis and the Rediscovery of the Southwest (New York: Arcade
Publishing, 2001), pp. 233-34.
51. The San Francisco Chronicle, April 19, 1903.
52. For reprints of some of Lawson’s articles in the Herald, see the San Diego Evening Tribune,
March 23, 26, 1903.
53. Los Angeles Times, April 9, 1903. Agent Wright later said, “The great trouble that we have had
to contend with is that a number of well-meaning persons and a number of those who were
not well meaning have stirred up the Indians.” (The Riverside Daily Press, May 13, 1903).
54. “Diary Notes,” 1903, George Wharton James Papers in the Braun Research Library. While this
manuscript does not have Lawson’s name on it, and is written in third person, it is in Lawson’s
handwriting – presumably a copy he later made for James.
55. Moro was not actually facing removal, as he had filed a homestead in the hills above Cupa,
beyond the ranch boundaries. At one point Jenkins became concerned that the Cupeño might
try to move to Moro’s homestead instead of the reservation, and according to Ed Davis told
him that if they “made the least move to do so he would put him in irons, so that settled
that.” (Notes, May 11, 1903).
56. The Riverside Daily Press, May 14, 1903.
57. The San Diego Union, May 13, 1903.
58. The Riverside Daily Press, May 14, 1903. Despite a ban on reporters, Schirmer had managed
to sneak in with the teamsters, and wrote his dispatches hidden under a blanket in the back
of a wagon. His diary-like description of the next few days is a valuable first-hand account
of the removal.
59. Many reporters felt Cornelius made a great impression on the Cupeño, but Lawson noted
in his diary that her plea had little effect. Roscinda Nolasquez (1892-1987), the daughter of
Salvador Nolasquez and the last survivor of the removal, confirmed that same view (Roscinda
Nolasquez, interviewed by the author, August 7, 1985).
60. “Historical Memorandum of the Removal of the Agua Caliente or Warners Ranch Indians”
(1903). Copy in the Cupa Cultural Center collection.
61. From a 1921 interview quoted in Jane Hill and Roscinda Nolasquez, Mulu’Wetam: The First
People (Banning: Malki Museum Press, 1973), p. 21a, 23a. Carolina Nolasquez was the sister
of Salvador Nolasquez.
62. The Riverside Daily Press, May 14, 1903.
63. The Riverside Press-Enterprise, May 21, 1985.
64. Quoted in Nolasquez, Mulu’Wetam. Roscinda’s account was translated literally from Cupeño,
hence its somewhat unusual syntax.
65. Ibid.
66. The Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1903.
67. May 14, 1903. Calling Nolasquez “old” may have been an addition of the rewriter; Nolasquez
was just 42 years old then, and had 30 years left to live.
68. The Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1903.
69. Personal interview, February 16, 1981.
70. Out West, July 1903.
71. Personal interview, February 16, 1981.
72. The Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1903.
73. Tape recorded interview by Lester Reed, 1963 (copy in author’s collection). Tripp added that
the men did their best to keep every family’s goods separate.
74. The New York Times, June 14, 1903.
75. The San Diego Union, May 14, 1903.
76. Davis manuscript notes, May 31, 1903.
77. The Los Angeles Times, May 14, 1903. “About a dozen of the red men living in the Valle San
Jose section of the ranch were not disturbed, and they intend to live near Santa Ysabel.” The
San Francisco Chronicle, May 13, 1903. Many of the residents of Mataguay moved there as well.
78. Out West, July, 1903.
79. Personal interview, July 27, 1980.
80. Ibid., July 12, 1978.
81. Ibid., February 17, 1986.
82. Nolasquez, Mulu’Wetam, p. 23a.
83. The Los Angeles Herald, May 15, 1903.
84. Personal interview, July 12, 1978.
85. Ibid., July 27, 1980, December 5, 1981.
86. The Los Angeles Herald, May 15, 1903.
87. Edward H. Davis, “The Last Eviction,” in Charles Quinn, Edward H. Davis and the Indians of
the Southwest United States and Northwest Mexico (Downey: Elena Quinn, 1965). Davis sent his
account for Agent Wright to look over. He made a few corrections, but admits in his own account that he ‘broke in a door or two.’ (L.A. Wright to C.F. Lummis, September 23, 1903;
Lucius Wright Collection, Seaver Center for Western History Research, Los Angeles). See Out
West, October, 1903.
88. Juanita Cuero to Theodore Grand, September 8, 1903, paraphrased in the diary of Fred Grand,
September 17, 1903 (translated from the French and courtesy Judy Swink and the Grand family).
Cuero’s mother was Florentina Cuero, and it is possible that Fred Grand was her father.
89. Shell to Commissioner of Indian Affairs, September 24, 1903 (Pala Agency Records, 1903-1910,
RG 75, National Archives and Record Service, Perris, CA).
90. C.E. Kelsey, Report of the Special Agent for California Indians to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs
(San Jose: Cleveland Printing Co., 1907). The Cupeño called these portable houses “coffin
houses.” The Los Angeles Times (April 10, 1927).
91. The Los Angeles Times, October 10, 1903.
92. Holland to Commissioner of Indian Affairs, August 9, 1906 (Pala Agency Records).
93. Report of the Commissioner of Indian Affairs (1904), p. 165.
94. Shell to Commissioner of Indian Affairs, December 26, 1903 (Pala Agency Records).
95. Rincon Band of Mission Indians vs. Escondido Mutual Water Company et al. settlement published
December 16, 2016.
96. Overland Monthly, August, 1903.
97. Out West, July 1903.
98. Nolasquez, Mulu’Wetam, p xx