Cultural Resources

Cultural Preservation

Some elders of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe see the culture slowly fading. However, there is an effort by some tribal members to revitalize the culture by learning and teaching the language of the Cahuilla people. Culture is made from common beliefs and practices of a people.
Today, the culture is carried on as individuals learn songs, languages and other practices, such as preparing wakes, burials and dinners. The people of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Tribe are what make a tribe a tribe in every sense.

History of Torres Martinez Reservation

The Cahuilla people have inhabited the Martinez Canyon since the early 1800's. In May of 1876 an Executive Order by President Ulysses S. Grant created the Torres and Martinez reservations. Under the Relief of Mission Indians Act of 1891, the Torres and Martinez reservations were combined. In December 1906, the U.S. Department of the Interior authorized funding for a new reservation school building.
The new school building benefited tribal kids tremendously because it eliminated an eight-mile walk to the Thermal school. The school building and a small cottage (used as a teacher or agent residence) were finished in August 1907. Later, the school was used for religious services and tribal gathering.

Geography and Location

The area geology ranges from fine sand at the north end to rocky terrain at the southern end, excluding the area that surrounds the sea. The climate is arid with very little rain. The average high temperature year round is between 80 and 90 degrees and sometimes reaches 120 degrees in the summer.


The tribe is governed by constitution and bylaws adopted by the general membership. There are eight Tribal Council members, who are elected every two years by the general membership. The general membership meets on the second Saturday of each month to go over activities involving the tribe.
Rules and/or procedures for the conduct of the tribe are established by the general membership through appropriate ordinance or resolution. Business can only be conducted by the General Council at a duly called meeting with a quorum of at least 21 members present.

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