The Pauma Band’s tribal affiliation is Luiseño, and we are one of the six “bands” of Luiseño people located throughout the mid-Southern California area. The designation “Luiseño,” or its original form “San Luiseño,” comes from the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia near present day Oceanside. Most of the present day Luiseño peoples’ reservations are located on or near their traditional homelands. The reservations of Soboba and Pechanga in Riverside County as well as Pauma, Pala, La Jolla and Rincon in San Diego Country are the ancestral lands of our people, and the hope for our future. Collectively, we reference ourselves as the Payomkawichum or Western People.
The San Luis Rey Mission, founded in 1798, established supporting ranchos in the Temecula and Pauma valleys. These ranchos encompassed property boundaries of dozens of native villages that became the forced labor of the mission system. Because these native villages were within territory claimed for Mission San Luis Rey de Francia, they became known as San Luiseños, later shortened to Luiseño.
Historically, each native band identified itself along village lines, but also acknowledged tribal identity by language and place. Serranos and Gabrielenos are to our north; hence they are Tumamkawichum, Northern People. Likewise, Cahuillas and Cupeños are Kwiimkawichum, Eastern People. Digueños and Kumeyaay are Kiichamkawichum, Southern People; and being to the west of everyone else, we call ourselves collectively Payomkawichum, or Western People.
As Payomkawichum, we have inhabited this land for thousands of years, since before the Spaniards arrived in the 1700s. We are located in the foothills of Palomar Mountain. The traditional territory of the Luiseño people extends along the coast, from near San Juan Capistrano in the north and the Encinitas/Carlsbad area in the south to the valleys of the coastal mountains and Mt. Palomar in the east. Today this area is in northern San Diego, Riverside and Orange counties. The valley that sits at the base of Palomar’s sloping hills is called “Pauma.” The term “Pauma” describes this area’s chief characteristic, the San Luis Rey River, which flows through the base of the valley. The name “Pauma” translates as “place where there is water.”