Our Ancestors tell us that from the beginning of time our people "ataaxam" have always occupied the San Luis Rey Valley, including the coastline, the neighboring lagoons, the oak forest, the lush meadows, the vernal springs, and the creeks and rivers to the north and south of the valley. The ataaxam harvested the fertile land and sea, and their extensive knowledge of the environment was passed on through culture, songs, stories and dances from generation to generation.
The Spaniards established the Mission San Luis Rey in 1798 as part of the El Camino Real trail between Mission San Diego (1769) and Mission San Juan Capistrano (1776). During this period, the missionaries imposed the name San Luiseño on the original inhabitants of the land. Many ataaxam people suffered and died as a result of the European diseases, forced labor and loss of the way of life due to relocation and conversion to Catholicism.
The Mexican Period (1832 - 1848) inflicted further social, cultural, economic, and political limitations on the ataaxam people by forcing relocations to newly established ranchos. The ataaxam served as laborers on the Rancho Aqua Hedionda, Rancho Buena Vista, Rancho Guajome, Rancho Los Vallecitos de San Marcos, Rancho Santa Margarita y Las Flores, and Rancho Monserrate ranches.
During the American Period and treaty negotiations of 1851, the American government wanted to consolidate all the San Luiseño People in to a single representative group. It was not until the 1870's when a few reservations were established for some of the San Luiseño people near Palomar Mountain. A reservation in the San Luis Rey valley was denied the San Luis Rey Band since many homesteaders believed the coastal land was valuable for farming and ranching and wanted the land for themselves.
Many San Luiseño Indians had no land title documents and no rights under the new American government. Not until 1924 did the United States Congress bestow citizenship on Native Americans. Many of the San Luiseño Indians relocated throughout the states, wherever they could find work and a home.
There are many Luiseño people living today, some on reservations, but most of them in towns and cities. The San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Indians has kept its identity as a people within the local communities that now exist on ancestral tribal lands. Elective leadership committees and volunteers help to oversee the affairs of the San Luis Rey Band. Today the San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Indians is constantly being challenged to save and preserve what remains of our great cultural past, and to create and share its heritage with future generations to come. The San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Indians is associated with the other six Luiseño and Cupeño tribes, La Jolla, Pala, Pauma, Pechanga, Rincon, Saboba and their cultural departments as a Tribal Coalition, working together to preserve our sacred ancestral cultural heritage with local governments and museums.
The San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Indians would like to thank its members, the Elders, the Veterans, the Luiseño people, the basket weavers, the children, the dancers and singers of the Powwow, the gardeners, the students and our cultural people for sharing their time and making a presence in our community.
-- The San Luis Rey Band of Luiseño Indians Tribal Council