Chapter 6 Discussion and Conclusions


The Cupeño have been associated with the Cahuilla culture group by anthropologists from the linguistic, ethnographic, and oral historic evidence that has been published over the last century or more. One confusing factor comes from the oral history, which indicates that the single survivor of the Cupeño people, Kisily Pewik, was the son of a Cupeño man and a Luiseño woman. Oral histories relate that Kisily and his mother went to live with the Luiseño after the near annihilation of the populous of Kupa. If Kisily Pewik was raised among the Luiseño during the period of life when most children formulate their language traits, one would think that a stronger Luiseño influence would be expressed in the Cupeño language.

Upon reaching adulthood and living in Saboba with a Luiseño group along the San Jacinto River, oral history states that he married two Luiseño women, and moved back to, and reclaimed, the Cupeño territory at Kupa (Hill and Nolasquez 1973:19a; Strong 1929:270 and 275). Linguistic studies do not support a strong Luiseño relationship (Kroeber 1925; Bright and Hill 1967; Hill and Hill 1968; Hill 1972). With a strong Luiseño influence on the Cupeño population bottleneck, it would seem that the later Cupeño and Cahuilla linguistic association would have been at least slightly affected.

The Cupeño – Cahuilla linguistic similarities may possibly have been re-established after the population bottleneck by closer contact socially through trade, intermarriage, and shared geographical boundaries. Theoretical concepts of cultural and or group identity, with known origins among the Cahuilla, may possibly explain the relationship.

Archaeological evidence supporting a closer tie to the Cahuilla and desert environments are subtle but varied. The presence of Obsidian Butte debitage and ceramics originating from desert area clays are possible indications of ties. There is limited evidence of contact with the coast, evidenced by a complete absence of marine shell. Jeanne E. Arnold et al. (2004) state that patterns of late period movements, based on ceramic studies, suggest that desert peoples moved toward the coast but that coastal and foothill people showed limited movement toward the deserts (Arnold et al. 2004:47).

Evidence of possible mesquite processing from the long pestle may suggest an eastern, desert connection. A future residue analysis on this pestle may reveal additional information. The presence of three types of desert ceramics strongly suggests trade with or travel to the eastern and southern deserts.
The geological resources in Lost Valley provided only limited and low quality flaked stone raw materials that were used to make a whole spectrum of tools. Drills, knives, and projectile points are commonly made from cryptocrystalline silica rock materials. Other high quality lithic materials that fracture predictably with concoidal fracture were lacking locally. Obsidian and chalcedonous materials such as chert, which are more homogenous forms of quartz, are found in quarries throughout San Diego and Riverside Counties. Lost Valley and its near environs host a variety of sedimentary, metamorphic and igneous geologic rock units, but known mineral resources supply only limited quality lithic materials, such as milky quartz and platy, meta-sedimentary mudstones. The high quality lithic cryptocrystalline silicates from afar, probably were a valued resource that may possibly have been traded for locally available food surpluses.

Trade and networking behavior may be directly driven by resources that are either locally available, and lacking elsewhere, or available elsewhere and needed locally. Lost Valley Cupeño controlled a territory with considerable food resources. They also had the potential to apply additional labor to transform these surpluses into a ready-to-use product that they could trade for items that filled their needs from neighboring peoples. The artifacts excavated from Lost Valley should reflect this behavioral ecology model.
If value-added surplus items were traded out to neighboring populations, evidence of outside or imported value-added items should be expected in the artifact accumulations. If finished flaked stone projectile points were imported, there should be a dearth of debitage of these materials locally because of the assumption that they were made elsewhere.

The obsidian hydration analysis introduces new information and raises interesting new questions. The range of obsidian hydration rind measurements indicate that a relatively continuous occupation has existed in Lost Valley from the late archaic period up to the protohistoric period. If the Cupeño moved into this area ca. A.D. 900 as previously surmised by Taylor (1961), then the Shoshonean populations would have either replaced or displaced another previous population or it may be possible that the local Shoshonean wedge movements occurred somewhat earlier.



The Paleoindian Component

Fluted points are a rare component in southern California sites, especially those recovered in excavations. The obsidian fluted point at CA-SDI-2506 is the only evidence thus far of a Paleoindian component in this region and deserves further scrutiny. The paleoenvironment of Lost Valley was likely colder and wetter and probably hosted a botanical repertoire, such as that which appears at higher elevations nearby or at latitudes farther north. The Lost Valley meadow basin may have once been a mountain lake that would have drawn wildlife and human hunters alike. Similar environments from the Baja California highlands to points north may eventually provide similar finds, and we must be aware of the possibilities, be attentive for similar environmental factors, and have a heightened awareness when breaking ground for projects in these areas.

This find also supports the current belief that Paleoindian hunters were nomadic hunters, as the obsidian was geochemically sourced, and identified to be from the Casa Diablo, Lookout Mountain quarry. This long distance between quarry and recovery site strongly supports nomadic hunting theoretic paradigms.

The Archaic Component

Pigniolo et al. (1998) reported an Early Archaic component in Lost Valley based on artifacts and extensive site depth. They also noted an archaic component from the prior Bleitz and Porcasi survey that was performed as part of a reforestation project in 1991 (Pigniolo et al. 1998). A third large biface was attributed by Pigniolo et al. to an archaic timeframe (1998), and was found less than 1 km. to the south of CA-SDI-2506, adjacent to Agua Caliente Creek, in Site CA-SDI-2501.

Two Elko series projectile points were recovered from the SDSU excavations that indicate an archaic presence in Lost Valley. These artifacts, an Elko eared, and an Elko corner notched projectile point, are associated with the archaic temporal component, reinforcing the previous discoveries by Pigniolo et al. (1998) and the Bleitz and Porcasi (1991) surveys. These two Elko series atlatl dart points were excavated from depths between 60 to 90 cm., below the evidence of late prehistoric constituents and heavy occupation.  Most of the lithic debitage and the late prehistoric diagnostic projectile points were found in the upper 50 cm. levels, but bioturbation has made the stratigraphy at all of the excavated sites unreliable. Additional evidence for an archaic occupation at CA-SDI-2506 is also reinforced by the obsidian hydration analysis presented in this thesis (Figure 16).

The Late Prehistoric Component

The evidence from the Lost Valley excavations suggest an intense occupation during the late prehistoric time period. If the occupation of Lost Valley was of a seasonal nature or occupied year round, it is thus far inconclusive. However, there is substantial validation of intense, long-term occupation of the Temewhanitcem clan group, as Fleming has suggested in her thesis (Fleming 1999; and see Strong 1929).
Although it would be unusual to not find cultural influences from adjacent populations, the absence of marine shell is curious. The Luiseño that occupied the San Luis Rey watershed from Lake Henshaw to the coast would have been a likely source to provide these resources. Food resources derived from a marine environment are known to not preserve well and Lost Valley has been shown to be rich in its own variety of food resources. Marine food resources would require additional preservation techniques such as drying for any substantially distant transport. This may explain the absence of shell debitage, but does not address the problem of the lack of finished shell artifacts as tools, currency, or body adornment.

The zoomorphic bead/pendant (Figure 23) suggests an artifact stylistic association with the Cuyamaca Tradition, and the two tabular stone pendants (Figures 24 and 26) appear to be similar to many other pendants in size and shape throughout the state. However, most of these comparable pendants were formed from coastal shell materials (Moratto 1984, 2004; Chartkoff and Chartkoff 1984). In their (1991) Tom Kav report, D. L. True, Rosemary Pankey and C. N. Warren report pendants “made of a slate or schist-like material” that were decorated with drilled or incised patterns. The Tom Kav report presents evidence recovered from site CA-SDI-682, along the San Luis Rey River, just inland from Oceanside, CA (True, Pankey, and Warren 1991:4). This evidence points to a possible Luiseño connection.

Linguistic evidence supports a stronger Cahuilla connection. Alfred Kroeber (1925:689) opined that the Cupeño language differs substantially from both the Luiseño and the Cahuilla enough to be designated “as more than a dialect of either of these tongues.” Bright and Hill (1967) published the Language History of the Cupeño and reported similar results.

This compiled evidence strongly infers a strong Cupeño identity bond with the Cahuilla, in spite of Luiseño or Kumeyaay cultural and geographical contact and genetic influence. The presence of the single zoomorph bead does indicate possible contact with Kumeyaay, in its similarity with Cuyamaca Complex artifacts. The lack of evidence from a western or coastal direction points to a limited trade network in that direction.


This work adds to the archaeological record in two dimensions. First, as previously stated, evidence supports assumptions made during early ethnographic and ethnological analyses. Second, it augments the known late prehistoric occupation with that of at least two other periods of human presence, the middle to late archaic, and the Paleoindian.

Along with this analysis, the collection from Lost Valley, and Lost Valley itself, warrants additional research. Future graduate students may find here ample data for further work with this collection as more questions arise. 

The additional evidence of an archaic presence in Lost Valley is supportive of more than just a brief visit. Now that numerous diagnostic artifacts have been discovered over a wide range of the valley, and the additional knowledge learned from the obsidian hydration analysis points to a possible regularity of seasonal visitations pertaining to the archaic. There may be an older, separate buried occupation site somewhere in the valley without an obvious surface exposure.

Another possible but somewhat tenuous link to earlier occupations lies in the presence of doughnut stones. Michael Moratto (1984:147) designates a perforated stone as an attribute of the La Jolla Complex. This again is distinctly out of the time frame of Cupeño occupation and a significant distance from the coast. However there remains the possibility that this perforated stone type may originate from an earlier occupation.

The Paleoindian presence is intriguing. The status as to the early geologic formation of the meadow and subsurface depositional events of the surrounding areas are important questions for further research. The find of a fluted point buried in a high mountain valley environment in San Diego County, combined with a similar find in Baja California at El Rancho Batequi, suggest the possibility of a Paleoindian component along California’s mountain regions.

The flaked stone category of the collection consists of mostly the white, milky quartz, with a small amount of many other higher quality materials from adjacent territories. The availability of the local milky quartz justifies its presence. The mere convenience would logically prompt common usage. I have found through experimentation that with practice, this material can be adequately formed into a variety of simple, informal tools and projectile points. The experimentation also reveals a comparatively increased volume of waste and a larger percentage of projectile points, preforms, and bifaces broken during the manufacturing process, when contrasted with the higher quality cryptocrystalline lithic materials, such as obsidian or chert, that flake more predictably.

When one considers the predictive difficulty involved in flaking the milky quartz material, it is logical to assume that it would be adding a significant amount of risk in breakage to fashion notches into the unpredictable milky quartz material. Avoiding this risk of breakage may be explained using a “selectionist” Darwinian theory. That is, that the selection of manufacturing a triangular projectile point from a material of questionable reliability favors the avoidance of added risk in applying a notch. As long as the triangular point can be adequately hafted to a shaft, notching would become unwarranted. Where the white milky quartz material is highly unpredictable when applying finely worked details, other materials, such as chert or obsidian, are much more receptive to this finer or “formal” workmanship (See Andrefsky 1994). In the particular environment of the Peninsular Range in northeastern San Diego County where white milky quartz is the most readily available material, it would be logical to assume that the tools made from this distinctly different lithic material would be made differently to compensate for the substantial added risk of producing a more formal type of projectile point. The mechanism for change would be the material that is locally available, while the causal forces driving the change would be the increased risk in attempting to flake a milky quartz preform into a formal, i.e. notched, projectile point (see Bamforth 1997).

The seven years of field school excavations at Lost Valley have provided a wealth of data that has thus far resulted in several theses and provided the archaeological record with new information. As the demands for development and facilities improvement continue, further impacts to these archaeological sites are imminent.

With this in mind, any future ground disturbance in Lost Valley should include subsurface testing and the mandatory presence of a monitor during construction activities that involve the disturbance of the subsurface soil regardless of whether the construction project lies within the vicinity of a previously recorded site.