Twentynine Palms Historical Society
29 Palms, California

Chemehuevi Burial Grounds

Chemheuvi Burial Grounds - about 1922
Chemheuvi Burial Grounds - about 1922
Photo by Mildred Michels

The Chemehuevi Indian Burial Ground is located one half mile south of Four Corners on Adobe Road. It officially consists of one acre in Section 33, Township 1, Range 9 of San Bernardino County.

At the turn of the century, Jim Pine, a Serrano Indian, after the death of his aunt, set aside as a burial ground this one acre plot.

In the early days, the Burial Ground was sold by mistake and became the property of the Southern Pacific Railroad. When this fact was discovered, the company was asked to deed the land back to the Federal Government, which was done in 1912.

In 1909, Ben B. de Crevecoeur and Henry Pablo, an Indian from Banning, had reported fifty to sixty marked graves in the Burial Ground. One of the sites said to have still been marked in the early seventies was that of Old Jim Boniface, Chief of the Chemehuevi, who died in 1903 at the age of ninety.

Others buried at this site include thirteen of fourteen children of Jim and Mathilda Pine. It is speculated that most of the children died of an illness possibly smallpox which was common in this area at that time.

The last Indian buried in the plot was Mrs. Waterman, whose Indian family name was Ticup. Mrs. Waterman died not long after being beaten severely by Willie Boy because she had thrown his rifle and ammunition into a nearby pond.

After the Willie Boy incident, the Indians left Twentynine Palms to live at the Mission Creek Reservation.

In the mid thirties, the first citizens group began to try to preserve the grounds, and cleared the area. As years passed many others took part in the work of maintaining the area and in fund raising. Through the efforts of Maud Russell, who made arrangements with the Mission Indian Agency in Riverside, local people took steps to preserve the gravesite, including re-marking them with head and foot stones, and fencing the area.

In 1966, it was decided by the government that the Twentynine Palms Park and Recreation District would be best suited to receive the Burial Ground and on April 10, 1976, the United States Congress conveyed the one acre cemetery site to the Twentynine Palms Park and Recreation District by Public Law 94-262, Act No. 1466.

Since 1971,the Twentynine Palms Garden Club has maintained the cemetery. On May 31, 1983, the Twentynine Palms Garden Club disbanded, leaving the Twentynine Palms Park and Recreation District the sole responsibility of maintaining the site.

In 1974, the Burial Grounds were declared a Point of Historical Interest by the State of California.

In 1982, the State of California Native American Heritage Commission extended their Sacred Lands Inventory to include the Burial Ground.

Chemheuvi Burial Grounds - 1943
Chemheuvi Burial Grounds - 1943
In the center is the grave of Mike Boniface.

Chemheuvi Burial Grounds - 1980
Chemheuvi Burial Grounds - 1980

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