1852 Remarks on Diegueno in San Diego’s Backcountry

San Diego Mission by Zephyrin Englehardt, The James H Berry Company, San Francisco California, 1920; copyright 2012 Forgotten Books

Remarks by Bartlett regarding the various Ranchos he found on his way to El Paso Texas in 1852:

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

We pushed on to the village of San Felipe, near which we encamped. The distance traveled (from Santa Isabel) was 28 miles. Early in the morning (June 2) our tents were thronged with Indians, who appeared to belong to the Diegueño tribe. They were a filthy looking set, half clad and apparently half starved. During the day, we saw many men and women wading about the marsh gathering roots and seeds; of which two articles and acorns their principal food consists. The women appear to be the chief laborers, the men lounging about the camp most of the day. The improvidence of this people seems almost incomprehensible. A very little exertion would have repaid them with all the wheat, maize, and vegetables, required for their subsistence. To these they might add a few cattle, which, in this country, may be obtained for a mere trifle from the ranchos, whose increase in this fine valley would give them a plentiful supply of meat. As it is they have neither corn nor meat, and spend 10 times as much labor in collecting the roots, seeds, and other wretched food they live on, as would be necessary by cultivating the soil to produce bread, fruits, and meats in abundance. Their village consists of 23 miserable old huts or wigwams built of straw and rushes. Some were covered with rawhides of various colors. A few small patches of ground were cultivated, not exceeding altogether a couple of acres. This is not for want of land, as there were many hundred acres of good land around them, which by irrigation could be made very furtile. From appearances near the village, I was led to believe that there had long been a settlement here, there being not only traces of former buildings in every direction, but also of acequias or trenches for irrigating the lands.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s