San Bernardino County Hosts Historic Unveiling With Inland Empire Native American Tribes | smbmi

San Bernardino County Hosts Historic Unveiling With Inland Empire Native American Tribes

County Declares Its Museums Part of the Serrano Indian Ancestral Territory

November 19, 2021 • 5 min read
Exterior of San Bernardino County Museum

County Declares Its Museums Part of the Serrano Indian Ancestral Territory

Redlands, Calif. (November 17, 2021) —For the first time in Inland Empire history, San Bernardino County officials acknowledged Native American tribal land by announcing that its museums — including the San Bernardino County Museum (Redlands), Victor Valley Museum (Apple Valley), and Yucaipa Adobe — are sited upon the ancestral territory of the Maara’yam (Serrano) people. The County of San Bernardino joined elected leaders from the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, California State Senate, and California State Assembly in celebrating the unveiling of a written proclamation display at the entrance to the San Bernardino County Museum.  

"It is a privilege for San Bernardino County to honor our region's Native American heritage at the entrance to our museum in Redlands," said Board of Supervisors Chairman Curt Hagman. "It is important for our children and everyone who visits our museum and our county to be aware of the people and the culture that once thrived on this land and thrives in our community to this day."

For the first time in living memory, the Serrano language will be given a place of priority through both written and spoken word in a public space in San Bernardino County. The ceremony opened with Native traditions, including bird singing, preparing leaders from the three groups to unveil a new entrance display of an official ancestral territory land acknowledgment presented in Serrano, English, and Spanish.

The proclamation display and event celebrated and acknowledged the shared heritage that exists between the County and the indigenous Maara’yam (Serrano) people.

“There is nothing more fundamental to who we are as a Maara’yam (Serrano) people then our connection to the ancestral lands of this County. These lands are where our ancestors rest, they contain our history and culture, and provide a home for all the future generations to come,” said San Manuel Chairman Ken Ramirez. “This acknowledgement affirms this fact further grounding a heritage the Maara’yam people share with the people of San Bernardino County.”

“Today’s acknowledgment of ancestral territory holds significant meaning for the Serrano people by formally recognizing our enduring connection to the land,” said Morongo Band of Mission Indians Tribal Chairman Charles Martin. “Our history, culture, and traditions are centuries old and will always remain deeply embedded in these lands. This recognition marks a critical step forward to promote a greater understanding and appreciation for the shared heritage between the Maarrenga'yam people and San Bernardino County.”

Held during National Native American Heritage Month the ceremony affirmed that the histories and stories of the Maara’yam and County are intertwined and should be shared in culturally‐appropriate ways. Through creative partnerships—including co-stewarding the story of the region--the museum and County intend to continually honor and celebrate its indigenous neighbors and partners. 

Event videos, pictures and historical images available for download here.

NOTE: Due to differences in tribal dialects there are slight differences in the spelling of the indigenous name for the Serrano people in the Chairmans’ quotes.

About San Bernardino County
San Bernardino County is a diverse public service organization governed by an elected Board of Supervisors and dedicated to creating a community where nearly 2.2 million residents can prosper and achieve well-being. It is comprised of 42 departments and agencies, which are staffed by more than 25,000 public service professionals who provide a wide range of vital services in the areas of public safety, health care, social services, economic and community development and revitalization, fiscal services, infrastructure, recreation and culture, and internal support. San Bernardino County’s organizational culture is defined by the four pillars of value, innovation, service, and vision. For more information, visit

About San Manuel Band of Mission Indians
The San Manuel Band of Mission Indians is a federally recognized American Indian tribe located near the city of Highland, Calif. The Serrano Indians are the indigenous people of the San Bernardino highlands, passes, valleys and mountains who share a common language and culture. The San Manuel reservation was established in 1891 and recognized as a sovereign nation with the right of self-government. As an indigenous community the origins and history of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians stem from our relationship with the land and to all who share it.

About the Morongo Band of Mission Indians
Located at the foot of the San Gorgonio Mountains of Riverside County, the 36,000-acre Morongo Indian Reservation is home to nearly 1,000 members of the resilient Morongo Band of Mission Indians. As a sovereign nation, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians has overcome decades of adversity to become a model of self-reliance and self-determination. Today the Tribe provides over $3 billion in regional economic activity and more than 2,500 jobs as the region’s largest employer. Morongo has built upon its successes for the benefit of generations to come and the surrounding communities, all while honoring and preserving the rich traditions of its past. For information, visit

Press Release

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