Ramon Manuel donning his signature Stetson hatCourtesy of Palm Springs Historical Society. All Rights Reserved
LIVED: Circa 1884* – 7/11/1942
FORMER STREET NAME: SOUTH STREET
Ramon Manuel served on the Tribal Committee at various times in his life and represented the Agua Caliente people through written correspondence to authorities in Washington D.C. He also once acted as the tribe’s representative to the Mission Indian Federation, a pro-sovereignty organization. “Old Ramon” is remembered as a colorful figure who enjoyed sporting a 10-gallon Stetson hat and a cane.
In spite of his traditionalist stance against land being allotted to individual tribal members (traditionalists felt that reservation lands were the communal property of the tribe and that profits gained from them should serve as a pooled resource), Ramon came to politically align himself with tribal members who sought change in tribal government. Led by two women, Lorene (Lena) Lugo and Juana Hatchitt, this group was in favor of land allotments and a direct distribution of tribal funds derived from allotted lands to the tribal members who claimed them. Ramon was particularly concerned about the use of communal tribal monies to fund tribal advisors who did not share the economic vision of this faction. He viewed early tribal advisor Purl Willis and his proposals for leasing Section 14 to outsiders as a threat to the tribe’s future.
Ramon attended elementary school in Palm Springs where he was born and St. Boniface Indian School in Banning. During the 1920s, he managed the tribal bathhouse at the Section 14 hot spring, an early tribal business enterprise and precursor to today’s Spa Hotel. Ramon and his father, Manuel Dias, lived on land just north of the bathhouse where his father maintained a vineyard.
As was the tradition, a large number of Cahuilla people from the surrounding reservations came to take part in Ramon’s funerary ceremonies. Symbolic of the transitional time in which he lived, wakes in his honor were held in both the ceremonial house and the Catholic church on Section 14.
* the 1926 Mission Agency Census disagrees and lists 1892 as the birth year