About Tahquitz Canyon
Tahquitz Canyon is called Che-mo-ke-wen-e in the Cahuilla language, meaning “a deep narrow canyon.” The mouth of the canyon is named Kakwawit. Archaeological excavations performed prior to the construction of the Tahquitz Creek Flood Control Project have revealed evidence of human habitation there as early as 3000 B.C.
Although the English place name Tahquitz Canyon is named for Tahquitz – the first shaman, the Cahuilla place name for the entire San Jacinto mountain range is Tahquishhemki (or, “home of Tahquitz”), indicating that Tahquitz makes his home in the range as a whole.
Tahquitz Canyon has traditionally been a valuable water source for the Cahuilla people. José Rafael, captain of the Agua Calientes in the 1890s, once recalled watching a ditch in Tahquitz Canyon being constructed in the early 1800s. He described Cahuilla men building fires around boulders and pouring cold water over them in order to break them into pieces. Another account of the ditch’s history by José Lebacho confirms that construction of the first irrigation ditch occurred prior to the arrival of non-Indian settlers, debunking the claim that non-Indians were responsible for the area’s first irrigation channels.
Located just behind the village of Palm Springs, Tahquitz Canyon is notable for its dramatic cliffs with sheer walls rising for hundreds of feet. The canyon is home to a 60-foot waterfall (named Palhanikalet in Cahuilla ), pictographs, petroglyphs, irrigation systems, and an abundance of native wildlife.
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