Indian land development spanned the 20th century
, 2022-11-06 08:03:47,
The last spiritual leader (or “Net”) of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Albert Patencio, was the repository of the ancient wisdom of his people; he was the last person to thoroughly know their legends, their genealogy and their spiritual beliefs. When he died on Nov. 8, 1951, much culture and knowledge perished with him. His guidance regarding how to live on the Agua Caliente ancestral lands was lost.
Patencio embodied amalgamation, the blending of daily desert life and forced assimilation caused by the checkerboard pattern of the reservation in the Coachella Valley. Born in the 19th century, he’d seen the arrival of white settlers to the valley. He’d worked at The Desert Inn from its inception in 1909 as a handyman and would drive the team to the Southern Pacific Railroad station to get provisions and pick up guests. He often drove Nellie Coffman, the inn’s proprietress, in the same rig. The two had ridden together in that same fashion in the Desert Circus Parade in 1950. Coffman died later that year, and with Patencio’s death in 1951, ties to the land and the ancient way of living were lost.
After the last rites for Patencio in the ceremonial round house on Section 14 of the reservation, the round house was burned and the sacred bundle within it. Pragmatically, Flora Patencio, his daughter, and Vyola Ortner, who would become tribal chair, firmly looked to the future.
The incineration of the center of culture would mark a profound shift in the Agua…
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