The Cahuilla language was traditionally spoken in the San Gorgonio Pass (around Banning), to the east in the Coachella Valley to the vicinity of the Salton Sea, and to the south on the western slopes of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa Mountains. In pre-contact times, there were around 2500 speakers of Cahuilla (Kroeber 1925). Today, there are half a dozen first-language speakers (Golla 2011).
Cahuilla is a member of the Takic branch of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Within Takic, it is most closely related to Cupeño, Juaneño, and Luiseño, and more distantly to Gabrielino, Kitanemuk, Serrano, and Tataviam. The other Uto-Aztecan languages of California are Tubatulabal and the Numic languages (Chemehuevi-Southern Paiute-Ute, Comanche, Kawaiisu, Mono, Northern Paiute, Panamint, and Shoshone).
Selected archival materials at Berkeley
- Golla, Victor. 2011. California Indian languages. Berkeley: University of California Press.
- Saubel, Katherine Siva. 1977. I'isniyatam: A Cahuilla word book. Banning, CA: Malki Museum Press.
- Saubel, Katherine Siva and Eric Elliott. 2004. I’sill he’qwas wa’xish: A dried coyote's tail. Banning, CA: Malki Museum Press.
- Saubel, Katherine Siva and Pamela Munro. 1981. Chem'ivil lu' (Let's speak Cahuilla). Los Angeles: American Indian Studies Center, University of California, Los Angeles.
- Seiler, Hansjakob. 1970. Cahuilla texts with an introduction. New York: Humanities Press.
- Seiler, Hansjakob. 1977. Cahuilla grammar. Banning, CA: Malki Museum Press.
- Seiler, Hansjakob and Kojiro Hioki. 1979. Cahuilla dictionary. CA: Malki Museum Press.