What Are Cahuilla Houses Made Of?

Traditional Cahuilla Indian houses were constructed with sticks, plants, reeds and palm fronds. Long sticks were inserted into the ground and tied together at the top. The frame was covered with woven palm fronds or reeds and rope made from plant fibers to held the house together.

Cahuilla houses were known as "kish." Unlike the conical-shaped teepee dwellings of some Native American tribes, kish houses had a round top and a circular or dome-like shape. Kish houses could be built quickly but were not sturdy enough to withstand strong winds. Some Cahuilla tribes dug hollow areas in the ground and built kish houses on top, keeping the houses cool in hot weather. Several kishes form a village, typically with a ceremonial kish in the center.

Cahuilla Indians are the first inhabitants of the Coachella Valley area of Southern California, having lived there for more than 3,000 years. While separate tribal groups share language and culture, they are divided by regional geography into three groups; Mountain Cahuilla, Desert Cahuilla and Western or Pass Cahuilla. As of 2015, there are nine federally recognized Cahuilla nations with more than 3,000 registered members. Because of a century of intermarriage, modern Cahuilla Indians are ethnically mixed with European, African, Asian and other Indian tribes.