Online Exhibitions

TAHQUITZ CANYON WAY

Cahuilla funeral, late 19th century

Land developer John McCallum, claiming that the Agua Caliente had "trampled" his fence at a previous funeral, forbade them from accessing their traditional cemetery

Courtesy of Palm Springs Historical Society.  All Rights Reserved

About Tahquitz Canyon Way

On November 30, 1959, Tahquitz Drive and McCallum Way were connected to create an east-west thoroughfare connecting the airport and downtown.  The connected streets then became known as Tahquitz-McCallum Way. However, the name McCallum was later dropped on December 19, 1990.  This change was made at the request of Agua Caliente tribal members who had lodged a 20-year campaign against the use of the McCallum name.

John Guthrie McCallum settled in the area in the 1880s, using his status as a federal Indian Agent (1883-1885) to launch a career as a land developer and promoter.  Recognizing the land’s potential for development, he joined with other speculators and took possession of some of the most desirable lands in the area, particularly those with a water supply.  Although it was the duty of Indian Agents to inform Indians of their rights and to act as their advocate, McCallum instead withheld legal information from the Cahuilla people which stated that "bona fide" settlers (both Indians and whites) had a right to claim homesteads existing prior to the taking of lands for the Southern Pacific Railroad.  This law required such claims to be filed by a given time.  Unaware of this requirement, no Cahuilla claims were filed, resulting in a devastating loss of traditional Indian land and property.

In 1893, McCallum interfered in the most sacred of Cahuilla affairs.  After taking possession of the land around the traditional kauisik clan cemetery, he denied the Cahuilla people access and the right to bury their dead there, claiming that they had trampled his fence during a recent death ceremony.  This act was an insult of the highest order, appropriate burial of the dead and care for the tribal cemetery being the most important religious duty for all Cahuilla people.

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