Warner Springs Ranch Cultural Center

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.


The entire valley is here referred to a San Jose Valley, the name given it  by the Spanish.  Within this valley, terms which appear in the report  are rancho San Jose del Valle (on which the study project is located),  rancho Valle de San Jose immediately to the South, and Warner's Ranch, which is usually not a reference to the Hot Springs, but which may include both.


San Jose Valley is broad basin situated between great mountain masses,  Palomar to the Northwest, Hot Springs Mountain to the East.  To the  Southwest the Mesa Grande rises sharply.  At an elevation of about 6,000 feet, the summit of Hot Springs Mountain is mesa like and part is occupied by meadows, park-like forest, and brush thickets.  The western slope of the mountain descends in a series of ridges and spurs and extends across the basin to the flood plain.  Through its canyons drain the streams that make up the headwaters of the San Luis Rey River.  The major confluence of drainage is into the northwestern part of the valley.


Located in this valley are several hot springs which the Cupa Indians  considered the center of their territory.  In 1795, they were in a  unique situation, with control of a highly desirable natural resource.   They were closely surrounded by three different neighboring cultures.   To the North and east were the closely related Cahuilla.  To the West  and northwest were the Luiseno, and to the South were the  Iipay/Kumeyaay.  Both the Luiseno and the Iipay had villages within San  Jose Valley.


Stewards of this beautiful land

The  natural environment that Warner Springs Ranch calls home is special to  our staff and guests. We take seriously our responsibility as Stewards  of this beautiful land: we have instituted recycling and waste reduction programs; we refrain from using chemicals in our maintenance, housekeeping and laundry, and will institute a linen reuse program for our guests when the resort reopens.  We also are studying the opportunities available to use alternative energy.