The Removal of the Indians of El Capitan to Viejas: Confrontation and Change in San Diego Indian Affairs in the 1930s
- Author(s): Thorne, Tanis
- et al.
When the city of San Diego developed its water resources in the early twentieth century, the Indians of the Capitan Grande Reservation (also called “El Capitan”) were an important group of stakeholders. They lived along the San Diego River in the flood zone of the El Capitan Reservoir. The city had purchased their lands in 1919 and 1932 so that the dam could be built. In August 1933, however, a determined group of Indians delayed construction by refusing to permit their graveyard to be disturbed until the Department of the Interior agreed to purchase the Baron Long ranch as their new home. Mayor John Hammond urged John Collier, Commissioner of Indian Affairs, to buy this “splendid” ranch for the Indians.1 But the stalemate dragged on into the late summer months of 1934 with no resolution in sight. An exasperated official in the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) sought legal authority for the Department of the Interior to remove the Indians and their graveyard “with whatever degree of force the situation may require.”2