Cultural Preservation | San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
preservation mask

Cultural Preservation

Our Commitment to Cultural Preservation


We believe the past is the foundation for our future. As a community rich in culture and tradition, our Tribe continues to share our heritage with a firm belief in the importance of protecting cultural and natural resources across Serrano ancestral territory, revitalizing the Serrano language, and actively engaging in traditional practices such as singing and basket weaving. All of these things play a defining role in our unique culture. 


Cultural Landscape Stewardship


We partner with various government agencies, tribal governments, and conservation groups in our efforts related to the management and protection of important places across our ancestral territory, including archaeological sites, hunting/gathering areas, and sacred landscapes. We also work with these partners to update and correct our story across the landscape through public education and interpretive projects, such as trail signage and museum exhibits.



Traditional Practices

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Serrano language

Serrano Language

Above all else, we believe the Serrano language plays a central role in maintaining our culture. By introducing the language early, Tribal children develop a deeper understanding of their living heritage. Today, the Serrano language is being preserved in part by the Serrano Language Revitalization Program which works with native speakers to pronounce the words in Serrano, and creating lesson plans to teach carefully chosen words, including the names for plants, animals, and numbers. 


Serrano Music


Music has always played an integral role in our lives. Unlike many other Native American communities, traditional Serrano music does not include drums for rhythm. Instead, we fashion gourd rattles with palm tree seeds inside to make percussive sounds, which is often accompanied by singing. To this day, songs are sung to describe social customs, creation stories, and the history of the region's indigenous people.

Bird Singing

Bird Singing

In recent times, elders from the neighboring Cahuilla Tribe have taught bird songs to our Tribal Citizens. Bird songs are sung throughout the Southern California area as well as the Mojave Desert and along the Colorado River. Bird songs are not directly about birds; rather the songs derive their name from the migration of birds that parallel the movement of people through their territory, telling the story of the creation, animals seen along the way, and sacred places.

Basket Weaving

Basket Weaving

We are renowned basket weavers and take great pride in the imaginative and creative patterns of our basket weaving. These baskets continue to be made in the traditional ways, oftentimes using important symbols in the weave, and are made for many different reasons.

Plant Gathering

Plant Gathering

We believe that healing is in the land, and being able to access areas across Serrano ancestral territory to sustainably gather traditional materials can greatly contribute to our health and wellness. Today, we take great care in maintaining many of the plants traditionally used for food and traditional practices that grow across Serrano ancestral territory, including areas near the Reservation. We continue to use the local plants for many reasons, from ingestion to basket weaving, as well as for use in ceremony. 



Though we are modernly associated with Yamaava' Resort & Casino at San Manuel - and the San Manuel Bingo Hall before that - gambling and gaming have a long history within our community that pre-dates these establishments. Hand games such as Peon, which can include natural materials such as bone and wood, are still played by many tribal communities to this day.

Pow Wow

Annual Pow-Wow

The Pow Wow is a three-day event of music and dance that is both a celebration and competition with participants vying for prizes and honoring enduring Native traditions.