Historical and Cultural Context

Agnes V. Waite was part of the Serrano tribe. This tribe traditionally lived in the Mojave Desert and the San Bernardino Mountains in California (San Diego State University). The tribe encountered the Spanish colonizers in the late 1770s in San Bernardino, California were they settled (Barry Pritzker, 142). However, they became extinct before 1990. San Diego State University describes the meaning of the word “serrano”:

“The term ‘serrano,’ meaning mountaineer, was initially used by the Spanish to designate ‘unnamed’ Indians in the mountainous regions of southern California. Later the name came to refer only to that band of Indians whose territory extended roughly from Mount San Antonio in the San Gabriel Mountains to Cottonwood Springs in the Little San Bernardino Mountains” (San Diego State University). They were great hunters and gathers, but heavily relied on acorns. Moreover, they believed in supernatural beings and spirits, such as the Tacquish -an evil spirit, and recognized their hierarchy and power.


The Legend of the Tacquish mentions the “Arrowhead Springs” in San Bernardino, California. This place is distinguished by an arrowhead figure that is naturally outlined in the hillside behind the springs. This arrow is pointing down to the springs, which contain Sulphur water, as the legend suggests. “Local historian Mark Landis stated that the stories surrounding the arrowhead’s origin are generally variations of Indian myths about a god shooting a fiery arrow into the hillside to mark a sacred location” (Nelson, Joe). However, this Agnes’ work is a legend and it is different than what Landis is explaining, it is actually not about a god but an evil spirit. Nonetheless, the Legend of the Tacquish and the other myths created around the Arrowhead Springs, shows the importance and how scared it is for the local communities. This landmark is considered a historical landmark today, as it has been a symbol of the San Bernardino Valley, Native Indians, and pioneers and settlers.



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