The traditional Cahuilla language area is in the San Gorgonio Pass (around Banning), to the east in the Coachella Valley to the vicinity of the Salton Sea, and to the south on the western slopes of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains. Cahuilla has three prominent dialects: Desert Cahuilla, Mountain Cahuilla, and Pass Cahuilla. In pre-contact times, there were around 2,500 speakers of Cahuilla (Kroeber 1925). In the 21st century, there are around half a dozen first-language speakers (Golla 2011). However, as of 2018, Cahuilla language courses are taught at University of California, Riverside.
Cahuilla is a member of the Takic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Within Takic, it is most closely related to Cupeño, Juaneño, and Luiseño, and more distantly to Gabrielino, Kitanemuk, Serrano, and Tataviam. The other Uto-Aztecan languages of California are Tubatulabal and the Numic languages (Chemehuevi-Southern Paiute-Ute, Comanche, Kawaiisu, Mono, Northern Paiute, Panamint, and Shoshone).
Selected archival materials at Berkeleys
Selected materials in other archives
- Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Hill, Jane H and Hill, Kenneth C. 2019. Comparative Takic Grammar. UC Berkeley Survey Reports, Survey of California and Other Indian Languages. [PDF]
- Hooper, Lucile. 1920. The Cahuilla Indians. Univerity of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, 16:315-380. [PDF]
- Kroeber, A. L. 1908. An ethnography of the Cahuilla indians. Univerity of California Publications in American Archaeology and Ethnology, 8:29-68. [PDF]
- Saubel, Katherine Siva. 1977. I'isniyatam: A Cahuilla word book. Banning, CA: Malki Museum Press.
- Saubel, Katherine Siva and Eric Elliott. 2004. I’sill he’qwas wa’xish: A dried coyote's tail. Banning, CA: Malki Museum Press.
- Saubel, Katherine Siva and Pamela Munro. 1981. Chem'ivil lu' (Let's speak Cahuilla). Los Angeles: American Indian Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles.
- Seiler, Hansjakob. 1970. Cahuilla texts with an introduction. New York: Humanities Press.
- Seiler, Hansjakob. 1977. Cahuilla grammar. Banning, CA: Malki Museum Press.
- Seiler, Hansjakob and Kojiro Hioki. 1979. Cahuilla dictionary. CA: Malki Museum Press.
- Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
- Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians
- Cahuilla Band of Indians
- Morongo Band of Mission Indians
- Ramona Band of Cahuilla
- Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians
- Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians
- Glottolog: Cahuilla
- OLAC Resources in and about the Cahuilla language
- World Atlas of Language Structures: Cahuilla