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The Origin of the Name "Cahuilla"


In attempts to discover the origins of words, we can never go back beyond a certain point. In the present case, since it is unlikely that we will ever have full data on the Cochimi language, we may never know what the original Cochimi meaning of the word "Cahuilla" may have been. But I believe we may accept the data assembled by Harrington as showing that—unlike other tribal names such as Serrano or Luiseno—the term "Cahuilla" did have an Indian origin, and that it was used by Spanish speakers in Baja California to mean "a non-missionized Indian." In that sense, it was apparently applied to the Southern California tribe that we call the Cahuilla today.

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