San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians

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The ataaxam people have occupied the San Luis Rey Valley in California since the beginning of time. The San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Indians has kept its identity as a people within the local communities that now exist on those ancestral tribal lands.

Official Tribal Name: San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians

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Email: [email protected]

Official Website: http://www.slrmissionindians.org

Recognition Status: Unrecognized

Traditional Name / Traditional Meaning: ataaxam,

Common Name / Meaning of Common Name: The Spaniards established the Mission San Luis Rey in 1798 as part of the El Camino Real trail between Mission San Diego (1769) and Mission San Juan Capistrano (1776).   During this period, the missionaries imposed the name San Luiseño on the original inhabitants of the land.  

Alternate names / Alternate spellings: Luiseño, Luiseno, San Luis Rey Band of Luiseños Indians

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Region: California

State(s) Today: California

Traditional Territory:  The San Luis Rey Valley, including the coastline, the neighboring lagoons, the oak forest, the lush meadows, the vernal springs, and the creeks and rivers to the north and south of the valley.  

Confederacy: Luiseño

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Reservations: None

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Time Zone: Pacific

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Language Classification: Uto-Aztecan => Northern Uto-Aztecan => Takic => Cupan => Luiseño

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Today there are six federally recognized bands of Luiseño Indians based in southern California. They are:

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Ceremonies / Dances: 20th Annual Inter-Tribal Powwow, held 2nd weekend in June at the San Luis Rey Mission Grounds, 4050 Mission Avenue, Oceanside CA

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Art & Crafts: The San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians are best known as basket weavers.

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Famous Luiseno Indians

Catastrophic Events: Many ataaxam people suffered and died as a result of the European diseases, forced labor and loss of the way of life due to relocation and conversion to Catholicism. 

Tribe History:

The Mexican Period (1832 – 1848) inflicted further social, cultural, economic, and political limitations on the ataaxam people by forcing relocations to newly established ranchos.  The ataaxam served as laborers on the Rancho Aqua Hedionda, Rancho Buena Vista, Rancho Guajome, Rancho Los Vallecitos de San Marcos, Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, and Rancho Monserrate ranches. 

During the American Period and treaty negotiations of 1851, the American government wanted to consolidate all the San Luiseño People in to a single representative group.   It was not until the 1870’s when a few reservations were established for some of the San Luiseño people near Palomar Mountain.   A reservation in the San Luis Rey valley was denied the San Luis Rey Band since many homesteaders believed the coastal land was valuable for farming and ranching and wanted the land for themselves. 

Many San Luiseño Indians had no land title documents and no rights under the new American government.   They relocated throughout the United States, wherever they could find work and a home. 

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