In February, Highland’s Historic and Cultural Preservation Board named the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians the 2020 Citrus Harvest Festival Honoree in appreciation of the tribe’s longstanding generosity and partnership as a neighbor and part of the Highland community.
Prior to European settlement of California, the tribe referred to themselves as the Yuhaaviatam “People of the Pines.” The name Serrano, Spanish for “highlander,” was coined by Spanish settlers when they came in contact with the tribe in the mid-1700s. The Serrano are several clans indigenous of the region that share a common language and heritage.
The term Mission Indians refers to the missions established by the Spanish from 1769 to 1823 where many Serrano people were kept.
During the mid-1800s many changes came to the Serrano’s native land with the coming of settlers looking to ranch, farm, log and mine for gold.
In 1866, a militia from the city of San Bernardino initiated a 32-day campaign killing Serrano men, women and children. Tribal leader Santos Manuel led the Yuhaaviatam clan to safety. The tribe is named in Manuel’s honor in recognition of this act of leadership.
The tribe became a federally recognized American Indian tribe and sovereign nation in 1891 with the passing of the 1891 Act for Relief for Mission Indians. The act established the San Manuel Indian Reservation on 657 acres of foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains north of what is now Highland. The reservation has since expanded to more than 900 acres.
The tribe has long been a supportive neighbor of Highland and Southern California’s non-profits.
Each year San Manuel participates in Highland’s community events including the harvest festival and the Fourth of July Parade. The tribe’s sponsorship of the Redlands Bicycle Classic is also responsible for bringing a portion of the race back to Highland.
Since 2007, the tribe has also donated more than $200 million to non-profit organizations and shines light on many of those nonprofits at its annual Yawa’ Awards ceremony.
San Manuel Band of Mission Indians will be presented the Citrus Harvest Festival Honoree Award at noon on the festival’s main stage day of the festival, which is scheduled for 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, at Palm Avenue and Main Street.