Online Exhibitions

Famous Cahuilla Athletes

Philip Welmas (Cupa/Pala Reservation) in football uniform at Carlisle Indian Industrial School, circa 1910

Courtesy of Renona Pennington

From the earliest times to the present day, athletic endeavors have remained an important part of Native American identity.  Agua Caliente tribal members have received recognition in sports such as track and field, golf, bowling, basketball, softball, volleyball, baseball, and football.  In the late 19th century, Lee Arenas (Agua Caliente) was known as a star track athlete.  He is said to have once outrun a horse-drawn buckboard in an eight-mile race through the desert from the train station to Palm Springs.  Philip Welmas (Cupa/Pala Reservation) played football at Carlisle Industrial Indian School in Pennsylvania with Jim Thorpe.  He played four games with the Oorang Indians for the 1923 season in the early National Football League.  The Cahuilla have produced three professional baseball players: Leroy Alvarez, Mickey Mallory, and, the most famous Cahuilla Athlete – John Meyers. 

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