San Bernardino

Zip Code:


Latitude / Longitude:

34° 4′ 53″ N, 117° 18′ 18″ W



Time Zone:

Pacific (PST) (UTC-8)


Politana or Apolitana was the first Spanish settlement in the San Bernardino Valley of California. It was established as a mission chapel and supply station by the Mission San Gabriel in the a rancheria of the Guachama Indians that lived on the bluff that is now known as Bunker Hill, near Lytle Creek. Besides the Guachama, it was also at various times the home for colonists from New Mexico and Cahuilla people. Its most prominent landmark today is the St. Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church on Colton Avenue, just southwest of the Inland Center Mall, in San Bernardino, California.


In 1810 the Mission San Gabriel established a chapel dedicated to San Bernardino, and a supply station for travelers coming across the desert from Yuma on the Sonora to Monterey road, at the Guachama rancheria near the place now known as Bunker Hill, between Urbita Springs and present day Colton. The location was chosen for the abundant springs in the vicinity. When the adobe buildings were completed the padres and Tongva laborers returned to San Gabriel Mission, leaving the chapel, station, and a large quantity of supplies in the charge of Mission Indians soldiers, under command of the Indian chief Hipolito. The Mission Indians rancheria (settlement) here took its name from him, and became known as Politana. During the next two years the missionary padres made frequent visits to the chapel, the Serrano Indians were friendly, and many of them went through Indian Reductions into Christianity. Grain was planted and the settlement seemed successful.





Current Status:

A few Indians remained at the rancheria of Politana when American colonization began. However it was the burial place of the Christian Indians of San Bernardino Valley. This cemetery was a sacred spot, used by the Indians of the whole valley until the graves were leveled and the land placed under cultivation. As the country was settled, the Indians decreased in numbers and dispersed, especially during the smallpox epidemic of 1862-63. The few remaining habitations fell into decay and vanished. Its cemetery became an orange grove in the late 19th century and now the site is an open lot west of the St. Prophet Elias Greek Orthodox Church on Colton Avenue, just southwest of the Inland Center Mall. There is now no trace of the rancheria or cemetery, except for occasional finds of pieces of tile or pottery.