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Native Hemet CA People Meet


The area in which Hemet is located was first inhabited by members of the Cahuilla Indian tribe. When the missions were broken up by the Mexican government, the land was awarded to Jose Antonio Estudillo in The City of Hemet owes its inception and initial growth to two ironic events and the dedication of two wealthy men. Jackson was accompanied to the valley by her interpreter, Abbot Kinney. During their visit, Jackson and Kinney stayed at various ranches and met numerous valley and mountain residents, notably Charles Thomas and Hancock McClung Johnston.

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The Soboba Tribal Government consists of five Tribal Members who are elected by the general membership to Tribal Council for a staggered two year term.

The Chairman is elected by a majority vote of the general membership but the positions for Vice-Chair, Tribal Secretary, Tribal Treasurer and Sergeant at Arms are decided by the elected council. Most tribal members vote in person on Election Day but to ensure representation of the complete general membership absentee ballots are available upon request.

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Since time immemorial the descendants of the Soboba people are those whom have lived on and occupied the land that is presently known as the cities of San Jacinto, Hemet, Valle Vista and Winchester. Prior to both Mexican and American settlement in the valley the people of Soboba were virtually self-sufficient.

The Soboba people farmed land that was irrigated with surface water from the San Jacinto River, two of its tributary streams, Poppet and Indian Creeks, and from more than forty perennial springs.

Soboba - a proud nation

These water sources sustained gardens, animals and orchards. During the Spanish and Mexican rule in California, the Soboba Indians were recognized as an established Indian community. Starting in the heirs of the Estudillo family began selling various portions of the Rancho San Jacinto Viejo and by most of the rancho lands had been sold and the Soboba people were left with no legal claim to their land or water.

It was during this time that Matthew Byrne of San Bernardino was awarded acres on the northeastern side of the San Jacinto Valley, including the village of Soboba, its cultivated fields and all the water. Byrne planned to graze sheep on his land and at first allowed the Soboba people to remain living there; however a few months later he changed his mind and threatened to evict the Indians unless the U. Government paid him for his acres.

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The President had limited authority as he was only able to set aside public land for the establishment of a reservation and had no authority to take private land. An appeal was filed before the California Supreme Court. In the case Byrne v. Alas, it was argued that the people of Soboba had been given the right to remain on their lands by a provision of the original grant to Estudillo in and that the United States was bound by the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, under which California became part of the United States, to honor the original Spanish and Mexican land grants.

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It was also argued that the people of Soboba should not be forced to give up their lands because they failed to present their claim to the land Commission within the prescribed years of toand that the patent issued to Byrne in did not preclude the Soboba right of occupancy. In a landmark decision rendered on January 31,the California Supreme Court ruled unanimously in favor of the Soboba people. Unfortunately, the California Supreme Court decision was reversed, a year later. In the ruling of Botiller v. Dominquezthe United States Supreme Court upheld the supremacy of the claims confirmed by the Land Commission as opposed to claims based upon provisions of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo.

Since Native Americans failed to present their land claims before the Land Commission in the prescribed years, they held no valid title to their lands, even if they could prove continuous use and occupancy going back hundreds of years.

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The people of Soboba remained on their lands but their ordeal was not over. They did not have legal title; Byrne and later his heirs, the legal owners in the eyes of the San Diego Supreme Court continued to litigate and paid taxes on the property until In the State of California seized the Byrne and Soboba lands he claimed, for non-payment of taxes. The deed was recorded on September 11,and, at last legal title was held in trust for the Sobobas by the Department of the Interior. From to upstream diversions of the San Jacinto River and its major tributaries by new settlers eliminated nearly all river surface flow through the Soboba land.

In an attempt to improve the Tribe's dire situation, the U. Indian Service constructed a well system on our Reservation inutilizing the waters of an underground aquifer beneath the Reservation.

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By the early s, however, the wells had become largely unproductive because the Reservation's water table had been drawn down substantially by the upstream diversions of the San Jacinto River and by intensive withdrawals by non-Indians of the groundwater sub-basins lying beneath the Reservation. Some surface water continued to be available until the s from the many springs and creeks in the upland parts of the Reservation, which supported settlements, vineyards and orchards, stock watering and other domestic uses. But even this meager supply of surface water soon disappeared almost entirely with the construction of the San Jacinto Tunnel.

The San Jacinto Tunnel, 16 feet in diameter and nearly 13 miles long, passes within three and one-half miles of the Soboba Reservation, at elevations substantially below that of most of the Reservation. Fault zones in that part of the San Jacinto Mountains traversed by the Tunnel acted as underground dams holding back water stored in the shattered rock of the Mountains.

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During the six years it took to complete the Tunnel, construction crews encountered enormous quantities of water gushing into the Tunnel from the surrounding mountain mass. From untilwhen the Tunnel was finished, Metropolitan calculates that construction drained more thanacre-feet of underground water. An immediate result of the drainage was that many perennial springs on the Soboba Reservation once fed by that water ceased to flow by Substantial drainage of groundwater into the Tunnel has continued ever since.

Of the total groundwater inflows into the Tunnel from to the present, approximatelyacre-feet, averaging 4, acre-feet per year, have come from basins directly or indirectly tributary to the Soboba Reservation.

Inthe Soboba people filed litigation in the Indian Claims Commission against the United States for its failure to protect the Reservation's water resources. United States, 37 Ind. Sincewith the assistance of a multi-agency Federal Indian Water Rights Settlement Team, the people of Soboba have attempted to negotiate a settlement of their water rights and claims with the two principal holders of competing claims in the San Jacinto Valley, Eastern and Lake Hemet Municipal Water Districts.

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Metropolitan, the third entity primarily responsible for the depletion of the Soboba water resources, was not directly involved in the settlement discussions, because it holds no water rights in the Valley. In latewith settlement discussions with Eastern and Lake Hemet making little progress, Soboba invited direct negotiations with Metropolitan with respect to the Tunnel drainage, in hopes that resolving that issue would facilitate a solution to our claims against the other two districts.

Metropolitan declined the invitation, pending its resolution with Eastern of the relative liability of the two districts for the Tunnel drainage.

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In JanuarySoboba renewed their invitation to Metropolitan to begin settlement discussions. When the invitation was again declined, Soboba filed suit against Metropolitan for the San Jacinto Tunnel drainage. After prevailing in a series of initial motions filed by Metropolitan, the parties agreed to a stay of the proceedings to seek a settlement. The reservation today encompasses nearly 7, acres, of which are devoted to residential use. The Soboba Band has a current enrollment of approximately tribal members who are governed by an elected tribal council that consists of 5 tribal members.

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Geneva Mojado Vice-Chair. Sally Moreno-Ortiz Secretary. Daniel Valdez Treasurer. Kelli Hurtado Sergeant at Arms. History Sovovatum The People of Soboba Since time immemorial the descendants of the Soboba people are those whom have lived on and occupied the land that is presently known as the cities of San Jacinto, Hemet, Valle Vista and Winchester.

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