APPLE VALLEY – A walk-through cave, encounter with desert creatures, and rock art activity awaits Victor Valley Museum visitors.
Mosaics of the Mojave, open now, is a collaboration between the San Bernardino County Museum and San Manuel Band of Mission Indians to share the history of the Yuhaaviatam culture in the High Desert.
“As an indigenous people, we remain connected to our ancestors, building on their strength and contributions made into generations ahead,” said San Manuel Business Committee Member Laurena Boden. “It is our responsibility to steward our Serrano ancestral territory and rich history it holds.”
History of the Yuhaaviatam
The Yuhaaviatam, a clan of the Serrano, lived in an area of pine trees near present day Big Bear Lake.
These “People of the Pine” are modernly known as the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians as a result of colonization. Although the Yuhaaviatam were able to remain in their ancestral homeland, unlike other Serrano people who were removed to the San Gabriel Mission, anti-Native American sentiment ran high. In 1866, the Yuhaaviatam left the Big Bear area after a month-long killing spree.
Over the next few decades, the Yuhaaviatam people ventured through the San Bernardino Valley along Warm Creek. They ran into settlers who reacted harshly to their presence. The government eventually removed and placed the tribe on the San Manuel Reservation.
In 1891, California passed the Act of Relief for Mission Indians. The law recognized the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians’ inherent rights to self-govern as a sovereign nation.
Today, the tribal government operates Yaamava’ Resort & Casino, one of the largest employers in the Inland Empire area. They also support neighboring communities through financial contributions for education, health and wellness, economic development, and cultural projects.
Mosaics of the Mojave exhibit is one of those cultural projects — funded with a grant from the tribe.
“A few years of collaboration, a few years of building trust, and a few years of understanding,” said San Bernardino County Museum Interim Chief Deputy and Curator of Anthropology Tamara Serrao-Leiva. “Mosaics of the Mojave was conceptualized by both the Tribe and Museum together and we look forward to future collaborations.”
Victor Valley Museum is located at 11873 Apple Valley Road in Apple Valley.
General admission is $10 for adults, $8 for military or seniors, $7 for students, and $5 for children ages 6 to 12. The museum admits children five and under and Museum Association members for free. Parking is free. The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities.
For more information, visit https://museum.sbcounty.gov/.