California Desert Tribes

Today, I left the desert, left the view of the snow-capped mountains surrounding me, and returned to Los Angeles. Next stop on my California adventure will be Catalina Island. I’m in my LA hotel now as I write this post, but my thoughts are still on the desert and some things I learned.

As a boy I read every book on the Native Americans in the Dallas library, both in the children’s and adult sections. I took it on as an ongoing project, and before I knew it, I was rereading some of them.  I believe there must be so many stories remaining to be read and written about Native Americans. My childhood interest in American Indians is still with me, and here I’ve learned about some of the Southern California desert tribes.

First, I learned about the Morongo. Their official site is here,

Second, I learned of the  Cahuilla. A branch of the tribe is the Cabazon, named after a chief who led them from the 1830s-70s. I took some interesting photos at the town of Cabazon that I’ll post tomorrow. Here is a great site about the Cahuilla:

According to this site,,
the desert Indians of the interior were “exclusively gatherers-hunters, with plant food as the mainstay of subsistence, accounting for perhaps seventy percent of the diet. More than one hundred species of roots, greens, seeds, nuts, and berries were regularly collected, with the nuts of the piñon pine the single most important food resource for hill and mountain groups, while desert groups relied heavily of the fruits of cacti and the seedpods of mesquite.

“The location of camps and the rhythm of seasonal movements was largely dictated by the distribution of edible plants rather than animals. Mobility and intensive labor were the keys to successful plant procurement in the desert interior. The equipment used to gather and prepare plant food was simple, yet highly effective and included the digging stick, woven, paddle-shaped seed beaters, collecting trays, and burden baskets.”

Another site that gives details on the desert tribes use of plants is 

Can you imagine the toughness and resourcefulness of these people? There wasn’t time, but I wanted to hike the hills and mountains, to camp and look at the desert stars all night. Another time perhaps.