Jan 30, 200610:33 AMThe Life
Inbox: a difference of opinion
Jan 30, 2006 - 10:33 AMA reader identified only as "Somebody" from Palm Springs extracted several quotes from some of my postings, and commented upon them: "By the time John Guthrie McCallum settled his family here in 1884, it was called Palm Springs." Wrong. McCallum called his settlement Palm City. It was only later deemed Palm Springs. "In the early 1800s, the Spanish named it Agua Caliente ('hot water')." Wrong. The Spanish arrived in 1769. "The traditional Cahuilla Indian name for this area was Se-Khi ('boiling water')." Wrong. The term "sekhi" applies only to the hot springs, not the general vicinity. "Section 14 is also one square mile of the ancestral lands of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians." Wrong. The Band is an artificial construct of traditional peoples who lived and hunted throughout the valley. "Section 14 was also unofficially used as a post-WWII African-American and Latino squatters' reservation until the city bulldozed it in 1966." Wrong. Condemnation and razing began in the mid-1950s and continued for a ten year time-span. There was not a specific year when it actually happened. "Understanding the dynamics of this mysterious resort town may hinge on solving the puzzle of Section 14's use (and non-use). Don't worry. I'm on the case." I'm worried, based on your previous work.
The message above, from "Somebody" in Palm Springs, serves to illustrate the subjectivity of historical reporting. I wasn't here when most of these events occurred, and I doubt whether "Somebody" was, either. All we can do is rely upon the writings (many of which are second- and third-hand) from those who chose to document the events in question. Sometimes, these historians have an axe to grind, and the axe is not always apparent. So I try to corroborate my sources with a second (and often third) opinion, but I think we should all be aware that—unless we're speaking directly to an unbiased first-hand observer (a rare person in *any* era)—the stories which we call "history" are naturally subject to the kinds of distortions often seen in a child's game of Telephone.
I won't try to refute all of the points raised by "Somebody" (most of them are simply word-parsing, anyway), but as evidence of my good-faith research efforts, I'll post this link to an AguaCaliente.org page which states: The Cahuilla Indian name for the Palm Springs area was "Se-Khi"...