Known as one of California’s foremost Native American leaders and educators, she died Tuesday peacefully at her home on the Morongo Indian Reservation, her nephew Kevin Siva said.
Katherine Siva Saubel, a Native American scholar, Cahuilla historian, co-founder of the
Malki Museum, and one California’s most respected tribal elders, died Tuesday at
her home on the Morongo Indian Reservation, her nephew and caregiver said
resident of the Morongo Reservation, said in a phone interview. ”She always told
me stories about the wind when I was younger.”
aunt’s caregiver for the past 15 years.
there 73 years, Siva said.
and Steven, a granddaughter, Maria, and numerous nieces and nephews, Siva
his tribe’s condolences and grief.
American culture, from the preservation of the traditional Cahuilla language to
the protection of sacred sites,” Martin said in a statement released Wednesday
skill, courage and compassion as she worked tirelessly to preserve Native
American culture and reignite interest in our rich heritage among the public and
our tribal youth,” Martin said.
work and laughter, and her enduring commitment to our cultural and spiritual
beliefs,” Martin said.
Cahuilla-speaking parents at Pachawal Pa, the upper village of the Los Coyotes
only Cahuilla was spoken, according to the MalkiMuseum.
its isolation was a factor in Saubel’s “superb command of her native tongue and
for her profound understanding of Cahuilla culture,” according to the
native speaker of her dialect of Cahuilla known as ‘Mountain Cahuilla,’” and the
Cahuilla culture was very much alive in her heart, according to the
family out of Los Coyotes to a warmer part of the Cahuilla territory, settling
on the land of her mother’s uncle, Pedro Chino, at the Agua Caliente Reservation
in Palm Springs, according to the MalkiMuseum.
of Cahuilla most divergent from Mountain Cahuilla.
Springs, where “she acquired English by the time honored sink-or-swim
pedagogical method,” according to the MalkiMuseum.
figuring out what was being said. No one taught her; she was just put in the
back of the classroom and ignored, but she still learned.”
climbing trees, and making mischief. Her grandmother once made her some dolls to
play with, and sat to play with her. But she did not like it, and upset her
grandmother by throwing the dolls up in a tree so she could climb up into the
tree, according to the MalkiMuseum.
there was not one in Palm Springs.
enjoyed sports like softball and archery, according to the MalkiMuseum. She was
the best archer in the otherwise all-male class.
transferred and was the first Native American woman to graduate from there,
according to the MalkiMuseum.
culture and knowledge, which had been passed down through
plants and their uses as foods, tools, and medicines, according to the
going back to their traditional ways of hunting and gathering. They never went
hungry, and she learned from her mother, who was a great cook, gatherer, and
medicine woman, according to the MalkiMuseum.
takes care of you, and if you destroy it you are destroying yourself,” according
to the Malki Museum.
she had to wait at a bus stop on the reservation in front of a small restaurant
that had a sign in the window saying “Whites Only.”
down because his restaurant was on reservation land and he had no right to keep
Indians out of a restaurant on their own land, according to the
have an Indian teenage girl confront him – but later when she walked by the
restaurant the sign had been taken down.
gathering, on the Palm Springs Reservation.
Reservation near Banning, where both Mountain and Pass Cahuilla were spoken, as
well as the distantly related Serrano language, according to the
passed away in 1985. Allen was their only son, but they also helped raise his
four children, as well as nieces and nephews. Mariano was supportive of
Katherine’s work to preserve Cahuilla and other Native cultures, and worked with
her to found and build the MalkiMuseum.
and anthropology at UCLA.
William Bright, Professor of Linguistics and Anthropology at UCLA. Her life
began to change – her formal education had begun, according to the
University of Chicago and the University of Colorado at Boulder, where she
studied the fundamentals of ethnology, anthropology, and
detailing the ethnobotanical knowledge of the Cahuilla, with much of the
information coming from Saubel’s mother, who was a Cahuilla medicine
and appears in the biographical Reference Encyclopedia of the American Indian,
1967, and many other biographical reference works, according to the
Hansjakob Seiler, who with her assistance published two studies of the Cahuilla
language. She also worked with Japanese linguist Dr. Kojiro Hioki, from the
HachinoheUniversity. Drs. Seiler and Hioki worked together with her to publish
an updated book on the Cahuilla language in 2006.
published a two-volume work with cultural memories and stories in Mountain
Cahuilla and English, I’sill He’qwas Wa’xish: A Dried Coyote’s Tail.
the museum. The MalkiMuseum opened in February 1965.