Serrano Road

Serrano is simply a Spanish word meaning "mountaineer". It was first used by the Spanish in California to distinguish those Indians living in highlands or mountains not otherwise identified. The appellation came to refer only to that tribe whose territory extended from Cajon Pass to Twentynine Palms, according to Dr. Gerald A. Smith. Finally, when serious linguistic studies were made, the term "Serrano" was extended to include four tribes with similar language, despite cultural differences among them. All are now extinct except a few members of the Serrano tribe of the San Bernardino Mountain system.

In 1866 three cowboys were killed by Indians at Las Flores Ranch in Summit Valley of the San Bernardino Mountains. Buildings were also burned and looted at what is now Lake Arrowhead. As a result, the male white population of San Bernardino Valley formed militia units to eliminate the Indians from the mountains. It is most likely that the raiders were Paiutes of Chemhuevi and not Serrano. But the white man made no distinction and in a thirty-two day campaign killed most of the Indians in the mountain areas, or drove them from their ancient homeland.

Image of Jesusa Manuel, Santos Manuel, Lola Crispeen
Jesusa Manuel, Santos Manuel, Lola Crispeen

The reservation of San Manuel was named for the leader of a few surviving Serranos settled there by force after the campaign. His name was Santos Manuel and he is pictured above with Jesusa Manuel, his daughter, and Lola Crispeen. The San Manuel Reservation became officially established by Presidential order in 1876.

Image of San Manuel Reservation Map
San Manuel Reservation Map

In March 1965, the San Manuel Band, consisting of only 39 individuals, of whom 18 were full-blooded Serranos, wrote and adopted a Tribal Constitution. Roy Chacon was elected spokesman, Jane Duro, Assistant Spokesman. The purpose of their organization is to preserve their cultural heritage and to preserve the Serrano. The San Manuel Reservation is located immediately north of Patton State Hospital, in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains.

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