La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians

The La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians are a federally recognized tribe of Luiseño Indians, located in northern San Diego County, California.[1] There are five other federally recognized tribes of Luiseño in southern California. La Jolla does not have casinos.


The La Jolla Band are headquartered in Pauma Valley, California. They are governed by a democratically elected, five-member tribal council, who serve two-year terms. The current administration is:

  • Fred Nelson Jr., Tribal Chairperson
  • Wendy Schlater, Vice Chairperson
  • Angela Miner, Secretary
  • Norma Contreras, Treasurer
  • William Nelson II, Council Member.[2]


The La Jolla Indian Reservation (33°15′52″N 116°52′32″W) was established in 1875 by executive order of President Ulysses S. Grant. The reservation is 9,998 acres (4,046 ha) large, with a population around 390.[1] There are about 700 enrolled tribal members.[3]

Much of the reservation land in the eastern Palomar Mountains is undisturbed wilderness. The San Luis Rey River flows through the reservation.[3] The California montane chaparral and woodlands habitats includes diverse native plants, such as Coast live oaks (Quercus agrifolia), which provide acorns for traditional foods such as wiiwish.

The reservation contains a public campground, which is open from April to October. The La Jolla Indian Campground features include three miles (4.8 km) run of inner tubing down the San Luis Rey River.[4]

Origin of the name

The reservation is located in North County, San Diego, which is different from the neighborhood of La Jolla in the city of San Diego, California. Local Native Americans, the Kumeyaay, called that location mat kulaaxuuy [mat kəlaːxuːj], "land of holes" (mat = "land"). It is unknown what "holes" referred to, but it may be the sea-level caves on the north facing bluffs which are visible from La Jolla Shores. This was apparently translated by the Spanish into "La Jolla." An alternate suggested origin is that the name is a corruption of the Spanish la joya, meaning "the jewel." Although disputed by scholars, this origin of the name is widely cited in popular culture.


In 2007 the Poomacha Fire (or Mt. Palomar Fire) began as a structure fire on the La Jolla Indian Reservation; it got established on Palomar Mountain, joined the Witch Fire, and entered the Agua Tibia Wilderness. Because of steep terrain, it continued to burn after all other October 2007 fires were put out, finally being fully contained on November 9, 2007.[5] The fire damaged 92% of the reservation. State and federal agencies, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency, provided aid to the tribe in a regional collaboration to rebuild and restore facilities. All of the residents were able to return to the reservation by the end of 2008.[6][7]

Tribal programs and initiatives

On March 6, 2011, the tribe worked with the LA84 Foundation and the Nike N7 Foundation to dedicate a new basketball court on the Reservation. The court will be used by La Jolla's young men and women, as well as for games and tournaments organized by Inter-Tribal Sports.[8][9]

The tribe completed a new wastewater treatment facility and has broader plans for management of this issue. The Environmental Protection Agency's Tribal Border Infrastructure[10] program funded construction of this facility, the second such facility in San Diego County, to treat septage from septic tanks on the Reservation. The La Jolla Tribe is also addressing the operation of septic systems by implementing a Tribal Collaborative for On-Site Wastewater Management. With support from EPA, the San Diego Foundation,[11] Indian Health Service, Rural California Assistance Corporation,[12] and Walking Shield,[13] the Collaborative intends to implement an on-site wastewater management plan for La Jolla and other participating Tribes. This will ensure improved water quality for the San Luis Rey River watershed and reduce the overall cost of on-site wastewater management.[14]


  1. California Indians and Their Reservations. San Diego State University Library and Information Access. 2010 (retrieved 8 May 2011) Archived January 1, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  2. "2010–2011 Council Members." La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians. (retrieved 8 May 2011)
  3. "Tribal History." La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians. (retrieved 8 May 2011)
  4. "La Jolla Indian Campground". Retrieved 2011-05-11.
  5. "Late October, 2007 California Wildfire Web Pages". FIRESCOPE: FIrefighting RESources of California Organized for Potential Emergencies. 2007-11-09. Retrieved 2007-11-10.
  6. "Volunteerism, help of friends speed recovery of La Jolla tribe". San Diego Union-Tribune. 2008-08-15. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  7. "Trial by Fire: The La Jolla Indian Disaster Regional Collaboration & Tribal Partnerships". San Diego Union-Tribune. 2010-04-28. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  8. "Inter-Tribal Sports". Retrieved 2011-05-22.
  9. "NEWS: La Jolla Reservation Basketball Court Dedication". Retrieved 2011-05-23.
  10. "Tribal Border Infrastructure Program 2010 – Region 9 : Grants". EPA. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  11. "San Diego Foundation". Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  12. "Rural California Assistance Corporation". Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  13. "Walking Shield". Retrieved 2011-05-08.
  14. "Tribal Accomplishments & Issues Report 2007" (PDF). Native American Environmental Protection Coalition. 2007-05-22. Retrieved 2011-05-08.
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