The city of San Bernardino, California, occupies much of the San Bernardino Valley, which indigenous tribespeople originally referred to as "The Valley of the Cupped Hand of God". The Tongva Indians also called the San Bernardino area Wa'aach in their language. Upon seeing the immense geological arrowhead-shaped rock formation on the side of the San Bernardino Mountains, they found the hot and cold springs to which the "arrowhead" seemed to point.
The city of San Bernardino is one of the oldest communities in the state of California. Named for Bernardino of Siena on May 20, 1810, San Bernardino, in its present-day location, was not largely settled until 1851, after California became a state. The first Anglo-American colony was established by pioneers associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who would be recalled by Brigham Young in 1857 due to the Utah War. The city was officially incorporated in the year 1857. Soon afterward, San Bernardino became an important trading hub in Southern California.
Near San Bernardino is a naturally formed arrowhead-shaped rock formation on the side of a mountain. It measures 1375 feet by 449 feet. According to the Native American legend regarding the landmark arrowhead, an arrow from heaven burned the formation onto the mountainside in order to show tribes where they could be healed. During the mid-19th century, "Dr." David Noble Smith claimed that a saint-like being appeared before him and told of a far-off land with exceptional climate and curative waters, marked by a gigantic arrowhead. Smith's search for that unique arrowhead formation began in Texas, and eventually ended at Arrowhead Springs in California in 1857. By 1889, word of the springs, along with the hotel on the site (and a belief in the effect on general health of the water from the springs) had grown considerably. Hotel guests often raved about the crystal-clear water from the cold springs, which prompted Seth Marshall to set up a bottling operation in the hotel's basement. By 1905, water from the cold springs was being shipped to Los Angeles under the newly created "Arrowhead" trademark.
Indigenous people of the San Bernardino Valley and Mountains were collectively identified by Spanish explorers in the 19th century as Serrano, a term meaning highlander. Serrano living near what is now Big Bear Lake were called Yuhaviatam, or "People of the Pines". In 1866, to clear the way for settlers and gold miners, state militia conducted a 32-day campaign slaughtering men, women, and children. Yuhaviatam leader Santos Manuel guided his people from their ancient homeland to a village site in the San Bernardino foothills. The United States government in 1891 established it as a tribal reservation and named it after Santos Manuel.