The Cahuilla homeland in California was bounded on the north by the San Bernardino Mountains; on the south by the northern Borrego Desert; on the east by the Colorado Desert; on the west by the present-day city of Riverside. The term Cahuilla is said to mean “masters” or “powerful ones.” As a tribal designation, Cahuilla is more of a linguistic designation than a governmental or political one: the many different Cahuilla villages tended to be autonomous and there was no single overall governmental structure which united them.
The Cahuilla Continuum was an exhibit at the Riverside Metropolitan Museum authored and curated by Sean C. Milanovich. The exhibit told the story of the Cahuilla from creation to the present day. According to the Museum display:
“The Cahuilla have been in Southern California since time immemorial. After the death of their Creator Múkat the Cahuilla went on a long migration before returning home. The Cahuilla have made this area their home—taking care of the land, the water, the trees and plants, and the animals. They have learned to adapt to survive on the desert floor in the heat and on tops of mountains in the cold.”
The map shown above shows the Cahuilla traditional use area and the contemporary reservations. Shown above is a pipe (yúyily) made by Agua Caliente artist Sean Milanovich. The pipe is made from steatite from Catalina Island. Shown above is a basket (néhat) made by Agua Caliente artist Sean Milanovich in 2008. The basket has a four-directions design. It is filled with pivat (tobacco) collected at the base of the San Jacinto Mountains.