Pablo Apis, Sr, Luiseno (1792-1855) short biography in Spanish

Pablo Apis, also known as Pablo Hamish, was born in 1792 in Guajome near the soon to be built Mission San Luis Rey. The mission was founded by Father Lausen but under the control of Father Peyri. In 1798 he was baptized at the mission at the age of six, where he remained at the mission and learned to read and write. He was appointed to the “position of alcalde, an elected member to the Luisenos and served as a principal spokesmen for the Indian community” (Johnson). The mission had several outposts, one being Temecula. It is recorded as early as 1810 as being used for agriculture and pasturage. In November of 1834 the mission was secularized. Missions had controlled thousands of acres of some of the best land in California and many prospective settlers were interested in obtaining that land. During the secularization, many Indians went to Temecula along with other outposts.

In 1835 Pio Pico future Mexican governor was appointed administrator of the ex-mission San Luis Rey. He is argued to have treated the Indians ill. He admitted that he was appointed by the government to manage the ex-mission whether that happened through peaceful means or forceful means. Pablo Apis was one of several who fought against this ill treatment and management of the ex-mission. He was imprisoned for his protest temporarily in 1836. In 1843 when the mission was momentarily under control of Father Jose Maria Zalvidea, he gave Apis possession of part of the old mission rancho Temecula including the already established Temecula village. Two years later in May 7 th 1845 he petitioned and obtained a formal land grant, ironically from Governor Pio Pico. The 2,233 acre land grant was known as “Little Temecula Rancho”. He was a good friend to both Mexican and American settlers. For example in 1846 he offered protection to Mexican settlers who were being attacked by Pauma Indians.

In September 1850, California became a state and Temecula became part of San Diego County. The United States government had agreed to respect the Mexican government’s land grants and created the Land Commission to oversee these land rights. In 1852 Pablo Apis presented his land grant to the Land Commission. There tried to have passed the Treaty of Temecula which provided for a reservation to protect the Indians and their lands from Americans, cessation of all Indian lands to the government in trust, and government assistance in establishing agriculture for Indian community sustenance. But in 1853 it was rejected under the claim that the Apis land was not specifically located in any Mexican documents. American settlers protested the granting of land to Indians and this case was no exception. Unfortunately, this was the last state that Pablo Apis saw his land because he died that same year at the age of 61. Isaac Williams, who was the owner of the Chino Rancho fifty miles northwest of Temecula, had a personal relationship with him considering Pablo Apis’ two daughters had borne him sons. He disagreed with the Land Commissions ruling and aided in the appeal of this ruling. In 1856 the decision was appealed to the District Court which overturned the Land Commission. The land grant was issued to his daughter Maria Antonio Apis.

So what happened with Pablo Apis’ “Little Temecula Rancho”?

Even though the Spanish and Mexican law upheld and protected land rights granted to Indians, the United States government did not. In 1873 homesteaders Juan Murrieta, Domingo Pujol, and Franscisco Zanjuro bought the Little Temecula Rancho land. They decided they would allow the residents to remain if they signed a lease confirming they were the owners of the land, but the people rejected this request. So in 1875 the Indians were evicted by the San Diego County Sheriff. The Indians were lead to what would soon become the Pechanga Indian Reservation.

History continues to evolve with the newest lawsuit filed in 2004. Dis-enrolled members of the Pechanga Reservation have filled a lawsuit demanding their enrollment and their monthly $15,000 payment they have been denied since dis-enrollment. The Pechanga Reservation is one of the most successful casinos in California. They claim to be direct descendants of Pablo Apis so their dis-enrollment is seen as unjust, unlawful, and unfounded.


Kurt Van Horn, “Tempting Temecula The Making and Unmaking of a Southern California Community” Journal of San Diego History 1974, Vol. 20, No. 1 An Online source.

Deidre Newman, “Pablo Apis’ role in 1800s focus of lawsuit by disenrolled members of the Pechanga tribe” MCTimes 2005, April 9 th. An online newspaper.

Emily Gerstbacher, “Temecula History A Chronology 1797-1993”. An online source.

John R. Johnson et al. “Contributions to Luiseno Ethnohistory Based on Mission Register Research” Pacific Coast Archaelogical Society. An online source.

“Mission Days” and “Crossroads Settlement” Temecula at the Crossroads of History. Heritage Media Corporation, 1998.

Images: Images

Mission San Luis Rey link:

--Diana Osuna, June 2006

Pablo Apis’ Adobe link:

Isaac Williams link:

Temecula Ranch image link: