Agua Caliente Cultural Museum. All Rights ReservedGift of Frank Bogert
STREET NAMES: SATURNINO ROAD, SATURMINO DRIVE*
ATTRIBUTION: MIGUEL SATURNINO
LIVED: Circa 1864 – 3/23/1938
Miguel Saturnino was a wanikik clan elder of Snow Creek, who was much loved by his community. He came from the Cabazon area and was the nephew of former Agua Caliente captain José Rafael.
As a young man, Miguel worked with other Cahuilla laborers to build the railroad in the 1870s. Completion of the railroad would significantly impact the life of the Cahuilla people, bringing an unprecedented number of newcomers to the area and bolstering a new economy based on agriculture. Many Cahuilla people at this time became farmers, as did Miguel. They made use of the railroad to obtain seasonal agriculture jobs outside of the community and to ship marketable crops they raised locally.
Miguel was a Cahuilla cowboy and made a living from the land. For a time employed by the Paulino Weaver Ranch, he made use of his cow-punching skills to run his own herd, farming land originally used to feed José Rafael’s cattle stock.
Miguel was active in the political affairs of the tribe until the day of his death, and died while attending a Tribal Committee meeting. Early this same day, he had been rounding up cattle in the desert near Edom Hill. He was survived by his nieces Juana Hatchitt, Carrie Pierce Casero, and Annie Pierce.
Shortly before his death, Miguel signed a letter denouncing direct federal control over reservation affairs. Following the tribe’s decision to raise canyon entrance fees in late 1936, the federal government ceased to recognize the traditional kauisik clan leadership and took control of the reservation, reversing this and other sovereign tribal decisions. The letter announcing federal control read in part:
* Saturmino is believed to be a misspelling of Saturnino
“Dear Friends: On and after January 1, 1937, the administration of the affairs of Palm Springs Indian Reservation will be handled for the United States Government, Office of Indian Affairs, through Mr. H. H. Quackenbush, deputy special officer, working under the direction of the superintendent of the Mission Indian Agency… [who] has been directed to make collections of all tribal funds, including canyon tolls, bathhouse receipts, etc. for deposit in the United States Treasury…”