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Warner Springs Ranch Resort
PO Box 70 • 31652 Hwy 79, Warner Springs, California 92086        T: (760) 782-4200    F: (760) 782-9242

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The People and The Place - Metate Rock (Anvil of the Gods)

The Cupas way they have lived in the vicinity of the hot springs in San Jose Valley from time immemorial and that it is their homeland and that of their ancestors.  Their main village was Cupa, with a secondary village Wilakal, nearby.

Yet there was a time when they first came to the area, tradition tells of a culture hero, Kisil-pewic, who returned to Cupa from the North to refound a lineage which had been wiped out.  Another version clans originally came from San Ygnacio and spoke Cahuilla.  Kisil-pewic than gave all the land to his oldest son who was the first Kaval.  He then parceled out parts of it to other clans.

During the time of ethnographic studies and today, the Cupeno language is considered a separate Uto-Aztecan language, although very closely related to Cahuilla.  Bean and Lawton (1967) consider the Cupas a Cahuilla sib about whom groups of Luiseno and Diegueno allied themselves.  B.D. Wilson, in 1852, believed the village of Cupa to be a mixture of Cahuillas and Luiseno (1952).  Barrows, at the turn of the century, thought Agua Caliente (Cupa) had a mixed population of Cahuillas and Iipay/Kumeyaay (Diegueno) (1967:34).  Indeed, a Cahuilla Lineage, Sauivilem, moved to the Cupa area from San Ygnacio (Wiliya) about 1840) and shared the lands of the Kavalem with whom they intermarried.  A study of the lineages confirms that much intermarriage with neighboring groups has taken place.

Cupa and the general area have been known by a variety of names.  The Iipay/Kumeyaay called it Hakupin which the Spanish wrote as Jajopin.  It was also Aqua Caliente and later Warner's Hot Springs or simply Warner's Springs.