Amado Miguel (L) and Charlie Gabriel seated on cement irrigation pipes. Circa 1912Courtesy of Joy Pierce Teel
ATTRIBUTION: AMADO MIGUEL
LIVED: Circa 1886 - 6/8/1927
FORMER STREET NAME: Lemon StreetAmado Miguel, grandfather of Agua Caliente Chairman Richard M. Milanovich, was born in the area now known as Indian Wells, later moving to Palm Springs. His wife, Rufina Welmas, was among the Cupeño people forcibly removed from Warner Hot Springs in 1903. Following a Supreme Court decision in favor of a settler’s claims to their territory, about 100 Cupeños were marched for three days to what the U.S. government had decided would be their new home: Pala Indian Reservation.
Amado was an agriculturalist who in 1912 teamed with fellow tribal member Marcus Belardo to extend farming into Section 35, near the mouth of Andreas Canyon. Section 35, the site of bitter water disputes with non-Indian settlers, had recently been purchased and reintegrated into the Reservation in 1907. Improvements were made to the tract in the years following, including several hundred feet of irrigation ditch and construction of a small concrete dam to support the new fields. By 1915, several acres of Section 35 had been planted with commercial crops, including grapefruit and lemon trees.
For some time the U.S. Department of Agriculture had used Indian lands in other areas as “experimental stations.” In 1918, the Department of Agriculture, with encouragement from the California Date Growers’ Association, demonstrated interest in using portions of Section 34 and Section 35 for cultivating experimental crops, including dates, cotton, and cactus varieties, employing Indians as farmers. Amado Miguel managed one such station.