Cupa Centennial 2003
By Roy Cook
Photos: Ben Nance

The Pala tribe hosted a public fiesta from 2 to 9 p.m. May 2,1003 at the traditional village of Cupa, (Warnerís Spring resort on state Route 79 northeast of Lake Henshaw). The Cupa Village along with Wilakal and Matagui has been significant from earliest times.

This valley is directly on the most traveled route from the Colorado River to the Los Angeles basin and all the tribal villages there. Long before any European contact this valley is an example of the respectful nature of tribal people living together. Completely different language groups living within sight of each other and yet not imposing their will on another. Indian singing, dancing and food are an important part of many public celebrations.



Singerís voices again move and weave in the traditional Village of Cupa. Singers were invited from Southern California and Arizona to participate in singing the world into being with the song cycle tradition of the people.


Many Peon games have been held from earliest times. Times may change and economic situations differ but Tribal people keep their custom and tradition alive. Ironically, gaming is once again bringing the people together for this cultural celebration.

With funds from its casino the eight hundred member Pala Band hosted the centennial by renting a 41-unit block of Warner Springs Ranch resort. The duplexes include 17 adobe cottages that Cupa people occupied until 1903. More than 200 tribal members were expected.

Pala Vice Chairman, Leroy Miranda, who directs the tribe's Cupa Cultural Center, has done extensive research on the relocation. Miranda's great-grandmother, Rosinda Nolasquez, was the last survivor of the expulsion. She died in 1987 at age 94 and is buried in the small Cupa cemetery at Warner Springs. The return to Warner Springs was Miranda's idea. In an interview with Chet Barfield he said, "The reason we did it is so our people can remember where they came from. We want this to be an awakening and a curing of a tragic time in our history."
Using his own research, Miranda was able to place tribal members in the original locations of their lineal ancestors. The dwellings have original thick adobe walls and open-beam ceilings. They are upgraded with electricity and plumbing.
Pala Chairman Robert Smith, who is staying with his wife and children in a three-room home that was his great-great-grandfather's said, "It's a major event for the tribe. It's a good feeling to come back here. Words can't explain it." Cupa members held a memorial service at the adjacent cemetery where many of their relatives are buried.

Public festivities culminated at the annual Cupa Days Celebration on the Pala reservation on state Route 76.
WebMaster: Ben Nance