The present-day reservation is located within the ancestral lands of the tribe on the site of an ancient community called Paui. The reservation was established by Executive Order on December 27, 1875. The acreage was increased on March 14, 1877, and was reduced two months later. The land base increased again with additions on April 14, 1926, and March 4, 1931, bringing the reservation to its present total area of 18,884 acres. All land is held in trust. Only 2,000 acres belong to the tribe in common; the remainder is allotted to individual members of the Cahuilla Band.
Members of the Cahuilla tribe have long resided in the area of southern California where the present reservation exists. The language of the Cahuilla people belongs to the Takic branch of the Uto-Aztecan greater linguistic family. Elder reservation residents continue to speak their ancestral language. Some forms of traditional music, such as Bird Songs and Peon Songs, remain important and are preformed regularly on social occasions.
Members age 21 or older make up the tribe’s general council, and they elect a tribal council every two years. Tribal council officers include a chairperson, vice-chairperson, a tribal administrator, and two council members. The tribal council also serves as the Overall Economic Development Committee. Additional committees are formed around issue-specific concerns such as personnel, economic development (Cahuilla Economic Ad Hoc Committee/C.E.A), housing (All Mission Indian Housing Authority/A.M.I.H.A), health (Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health), and education (Title V). The standing committees function within established policies and procedures. The tribe is organized under a non-IRA constitution which was revised in 1983. It is a PL-638 Tribe.
Much of the information about the member tribes is taken partly or in some cases entirely from the landmark guide compiled by Dr. Veronica E. Velarde Tiller, Jicarilla Apache and historian:
Tiller, Veronica. Tiller's Guide to Indian Country: Economic Profiles of American Indian Reservations. Bowarrow Publishing Company, 1996. ISBN 1-885931-01-8