Agua Caliente Tribe of Cahuilla Indians holds ceremony to honor the naming of Múmawet Hill

  |   CNLM News

The CNLM Thousand Palms Oasis Preserve in Riverside County, CA was the site of a ceremony on February 17, 2023 to dedicate the name chosen by the Cahuilla tribe for the prominent hill on the preserve, Múmamet, which means “Great Hill” in the Cahuilla language. The ceremony was the culmination of a renaming effort underway since 2018 (read more here), to rename a geologic feature on the Preserve, the site of the ancient Cahuilla village of Yum Ich You (pronounced yoom itch yoo).

In attendance were dignitaries from the Coachella Valley including special guest Congressman Dr. Raul Ruiz, Pat Cooper representing Supervisor V. Manuel Perez and Reid Milanovich, Chairman of the Tribal Council. Other attendees included many members of the tribe, the tribal Bird Singers, and representatives from the Coachella Valley Mountains Conservancy. The event was hosted by CNLM Preserve Manager, Ginny Short, her staff, and CNLM Regional Preserve Manager, Kim Klementowski.

The tribal Bird Singers sang as the crowd of 50-100 gathered, with Múmawet Hill in the background. Chairman Milanovich spoke first, introducing the new name and thanking the participants and visitors. The Preserve Manager welcomed the participants into the beauty of the preserve and concluded her speech with a poem by Native American poet Kimberly Blaeser about honoring connections and community support, closing with, “Thank you for coming together to celebrate the naming of Múmawet Hill.  May it bring peace and healing as we lean together into the future.” Congressman Ruiz delivered a moving talk, speaking about his own personal connection with the Preserve as well as the great step that the Cahuilla people are taking toward reclaiming their identity.

At the conclusion of the speeches, the Preserve Manager presented the tribe with two artifacts that were found on the Preserve and preserved, clear evidence of the presence of the Cahuilla on this ancient tribal land. The artifacts included an intact olla (a type of clay container) and a complete clay pipe.  Chairman Milanovich suggested that these artifacts were on the order of 100-200 years old, indicating a very recent habitation of the tribe in this oasis.

The conclusion of the event featured the Bird Singers again chanting sacred songs as people walked to the top of Múmawet to appreciate the view of the Thousand Palms Oasis.