The La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians

Published on December 29, 2012 by Amy

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Viola Peck - La Jolla Tribal Elder
Viola Peck – La Jolla Tribal Elder

The La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians are a federally recognized tribe of Luiseño Indians, located in northern San Diego County, California.

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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:

  • LaVonne Peck, Tribal Chairperson
  • James Trujillo, Vice Chairperson
  • Adam Geisler, Secretary
  • Cody Schlater, Treasurer
  • Karlene Clifford, Council Member.
  • Reservation

    The La Jolla Indian Reservation was established in 1875 by executive order of President Ulysses S. Grant. The reservation is 9,998 acres large, with a population around 390.

    Much of the reservation land is covered by native plants such as oaks, which provide acorns for traditional foods such as wiiwish.

    The reservation contains a campground which is open from April to October. The campground includes three miles of inner tubing down the San Luis Rey River.

    Origin of the name

    The Reservation is located in North County, San Diego, which is different than the neighborhood of La Jolla which is located in San Diego, California. Local Native Americans, the Kumeyaay, called this location mat kulaaxuuy, “land of holes” (mat = “land”). It is currently 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 has been widely cited in popular culture. That supposed origin gave rise to the nickname “Jewel City”, which was once commonly used but now exists mainly in commercial references.


    The Poomacha Fire (or Mt. Palomar Fire) began as a structure fire on the La Jolla Indian Reservation, then established itself 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 reaching full containment November 9, 2007. The fire damaged 92% of the reservation. All of the residents were able to return to the reservation by the end of 2008.

    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.

    The tribe completed a new wastewater treatment facility. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Tribal Border Infrastructure[10] program funded construction of this facility, only 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 challenge of properly operating and maintaining 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, and Walking Shield, 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.

    Source: wikipedia Unabridged
    Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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