Native Americans

Who were the Native Americans that lived here in Wanapiapa (Place of Water), Whitewater Canyon for thousands of years? They were and are known in modern times as the Wanakik Band of Cahuilla Indians – or sometimes referred to as the Pass Cahuilla – as in the San Gorgonio Pass near Palm Springs, Southern California…

But who were they really – an indigenous tribe of humans who, as a matter of archaeological record, have lived in Whitewater Canyon for more than 11,000 years?

Who really lived here prior to 1492? When Christopher Columbus set sail seeking a new western trade route to India, he eventually landed on what he thought was the eastern seaboard of India. But, he had discovered what would become the NEW WORLD!

The first indigenous tribes he met in the Americas’ he named Indians! And where does the American part come from? Subsequently, Christopher Columbus surveyed the New World with a cartographer and fellow explorer named Amerigo Vespucci from Florence, Italy, who’s name appeared upon many of the early navigation charts and survey maps. Vespucci’s first name Amerigo is from the greek word EARTH, and the female version is AMERICA! So here we have Native Americans who are sometimes referred to as Native American Indians!

The year 1492 to the present day is approximately 500 years, yet humans have lived here for over 11,000 years. How did they manage to survive in such a harsh desert climate? When did it all begin? What do we really know about these ancient humans and where they migrated from – or did they?

It is generally accepted that the Pleistocene Era ended approximately 11,000 years ago and perhaps coincidentally the Last Ice Age! Recent scientific discoveries by Dr. Spencer Wells, who received his PhD., from Harvard, has suggested that through his genetic tracking of the ‘Y’ chromosome, an indelible marker in the human DNA that has been passed down from a thousand fathers to a thousand sons, that Early Man began two migrating paths from Africa some 50 to 60 thousand years ago. And, approximately 12-14 thousand years ago the eastern branch of the migration of Man crossed the frozen land mass, known as the Bering Strait from Siberia, into the Americas’ and begun migrating south…

The Wanakik Band of Cahuilla Indians lived here in Wanapiapa (place of water), because the San Andreas Fault created an underground dam in the Earth’s crust thereby halting the free-flow of Whitewater River below the surface. Therefore, with old growth groves of Cottonwood trees, it afforded them an abundance of water, food, shade and protection for the Cahuilla and thousands of preceding generations of Early Man, known as the Early Hunting Stage.

Who are these ancient humans who lived here in Wanapiapa (Whitewater Canyon) and respectfully and peacefully lived off and in harmony with the Earth? An Oasis of peace in a harsh land… Indian country…

In the 1990 census, it is written that no more than 1276 of the ancient Cahuilla tribe exists.