A Desert Supermarket
To the Cahuilla Indians, this desert was not a place to be feared or
avoided. This was not only their home but also their supermarket. All
their needs could be satisfied by the surrounding plants and animals.
Cahuillas believed that everything in their world contained a spirit and
that all spirits deserved respect. When picking an edible plant, Indians
would quietly pray to its spirit. The prayers would include an explanation
of why the plant was being picked and apology for using it. Whenever
possible, only part of a plant was taken. The Cahuillas would try to leave
behind enough seeds so that the plant could reproduce. Their respectful
attitude toward other forms of life enabled them to live here with little
negative impact on their environment.
(For hikers who have started this trail at the Cottonwood Oasis,
additional information about how the Cahuilla Indians lived off the land
may be found on signs between here and the Cottonwood Campground.)