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Open Access Publications from the University of California

The Death of Superintendent Stanley and the Cahuilla Uprising of 1907-1912

  • Author(s): Thorne, Tanis
  • et al.

This essay documents the death of superintendent William Stanley during a melee at the Cahuilla Reservation in 1912 as a by-product of the Indians' non-negotiable demand for self-determination. Clashes between Indian Agency superintendents and reservation leaders ("captains") occurred at Morongo, Los Coyotes, Soboba, Mesa Grande, Campo, and other reservations in the Southern California Mission Indian Agency in the decade before World War I. Resilient, long-standing institutions like the fiesta and the captain system were viewed by the superintendents and their superiors in Washington, D.C. as blocking economic and moral progress. The struggle over political authority reflected broadbased disillusionment and frustration, and the desire to be free of Indian Agency interference. Primary grievances were the federal agency's failure to define boundaries and to provide permanent title to Southern California Indian lands. When the Mission Indian Federation formed in 1919, there had been more than a decade of concerted political activism regarding home rule in Southern California.

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