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									Preserving the Past and Integrating it
into the Present & Future
    Vanessa Ravenott
Sociology 65 Final Project
       June 2, 2009
Brief History of the Cahuilla Indians
 It is believed that the desert Cahuilla have lived near the
    ancient shores of Lake Cahuilla, in the Santa Rosa canyons,
    San Jacinto Mountain and on the desert floor near the hot
    springs for over 3,000 years.
   Their first European contact was Juan Bautista de Anza,
   Mormons began settling in San Bernardino and moved into
    the San Gorgonio pass
   After 1852, the “Bradshaw Trail” went from Redlands, CA to
    Arizona, and the mid-point for travelers to stop was in
    Palm Springs or Banning.
   In 1863, 80% of the Cahuilla population passed away due to
    the small pox epidemic.
Land Division
 In 1873, the United States government offered land as
  an incentive to have a transcontinental railroad built.
 They offered one square mile odd numbered areas of
  land to the Southern Pacific Railroad, thus they were
  giving away land that had been the Cahuilla’s for
 In 1877, President Ulysses S. Grant, established the
  Agua Caliente Indian Reservation by Executive Order.
 The Tribal trust
  Lands in
Americanization of Cahuilla Indians
 Cahuilla children were taken to boarding
  schools in the late 1800’s. Ex: St. Boniface
  School in Banning.
 1930’s the Federal government began to give
  bulk of reservation to individual members of
  the tribes in a process called “allotment”.
 Through allotment, agents were hired to care of
  land matters of members, however, they did
  not act in the best interest of the tribal
Legal Beginnings
 1955, Agua Caliente developed a constitution
 that states that the Tribe maintains control
 over use and development of all land of the
 reservation, including land in incorporated

 Prior to 1959, land holdings were only allowed
 to be leased for 5 years. In 1959, through the
 Equalization Act, Agua Caliente could lease
 their land for up to 99 years.
Indian Gaming
 In the 1990’s, Indian Gaming was approved and this
  allowed for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
  to self-determine the future of their Tribe.
 In the 1960’s, they signed a lease for the building of the
  Spa Hotel and in 1993, the Tribe bought it back. This
  led to the opening of the Spa Resort Casino in Palm
  Springs in 1995.
Just as its name suggests it consists of a Spa, Resort and Casino in
Downtown Palm Springs. In 2006, the Tribe stated that they were
going to re-model the Spa Resort Casino because downtown Palm
Springs is currently in need of a revitalization because it used to
be a hub of tourist attractions and night life and it has been
decreasing in recent years.
Agua Caliente Casino
• Originally built in 2001, and expanded in 2007. In
  April 2008, the new $350 million and 16 story hotel was
• Recently, in February 2009, the Tribe opened its
  eagerly anticipated entertainment venue, with acts
  such as Billy Joel, Matchbox Twenty, Chelsea Handler
  and Jay Leno performing. This brings more
  entertainment to the west valley, rather than having
  residents drive to Morongo or Indio to get quality
Indian Canyons

 The Indian Canyons are cared for by the Tribe and is a
  popular tourist attraction.
 The views from the canyons are breath taking, and
  being able to hike in the place where less than 200
  years ago, it was home for many people.
 There are Rangers that can give tours to visitors that
  are interested in learning more about the Native
  American inhabitants
So, how does their Casino resorts
tie into cultural preservation?
 In front of the Agua Caliente Casino, there is a piece of
  artwork that represents a game that Cahuilla Indians
  used to play called Peon
 In front of the Spa Resort Casino, they have a piece of
  artwork called the “3 Cahuilla Maidens” that
  exemplifies storytelling.
 Little things such as that, encourages visitors to
  remember and think about where the Cahuilla Indians
  started from and that they are still around today.
Peon Artwork
Tribal Government
 “As a governing body, the Tribal Council sets policy,
  makes laws and implements the direction voted upon
  by Tribal membership” (ACBCI website).
 There are 3 council seats (Chairman, Vice-Chairman,
  Secretary/Treasurer) and 2 member seats
 Meetings are held every Tuesday and tribal members
  attend the meetings.
   Tribal Members and Cultural
 There are 430 enrolled tribal members.
 In order to be an enrolled member, one has to have
  1/8th Native American blood, and a person’s parents
  had to have been married at one point.
 Tribal members receive benefits and there are 7
  committees that strive to help members.
Cultural Preservation
 Sean Milanovich is part of the committee that seeks to
  preserve Cahuilla culture. He is passionate about
  learning, teaching and preserving Cahuilla culture.
 In order to do so, they hold a language class every
  Friday and encourage members to come and learn the
  Cahuilla language. The goal is to immerse people in
  the language and hopefully become fluent speakers.
 Baskets of the
 Indians which
 were outside
 the tribal
 chamber area.
Children Tribal Members
 Sean Milanovich stated that eventually, it would be
  nice to build a school for the children to learn about
  their culture and learn how to speak their language.
 By doing so, this would be an excellent tool to keep
  tradition and culture going because if they start with
  the children, it would immerse them into Cahuilla
  culture and keep their culture alive for many more
Agua Caliente and the Coachella Valley
 Agua Caliente has Rangers that go into local
  schools and educate the children about the Tribe,
  the history of the desert and to encourage them to
  be aware of where they live
 They have a cultural museum that is free to the
  public and located in Downtown Palm Springs
  that has a plethora of artifacts and items that can
  help educate residents and tourists of the Cahuilla
Agua Caliente and the Coachella Valley
 In keeping with the tradition of giving, the Tribe
  gave away $1.5 million to local organizations in
  2008. Since 1995, they have given donations of $21
 Chairman Richard Milanovich believes in giving to
  the community and giving to others. Rather than
  giving, bi-annually, they are now giving donations
  each month. Recently they donated $10,000 to a
  local program called “Shoes that Fit” and $10,000
  to a local Boys and Girls club.
Agua Caliente and the Coachella Valley
 They are one of the West Coachella Valley’s largest
  employers. They currently have 2,600 employees.
 The Indian Canyons, and both casinos have impacted
  Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Rancho Mirage’s
  economies by generating in tourists from all over.
  Their presence in the west valley allows for millions of
  dollars to be injected into the local economy.
The Future of Agua Caliente
 In August 2008, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
  and Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians signed a
  compact that allowed a third casino to be built in the
  future and to increase the number of slot machines at
  each casino.
 The expansion of gaming is expected to result in $1
  billion of expenditures on wages, benefits and tribal
 Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, has had
  an interesting history and have went from a tribe
  that was under Federal control, to being sovereign
  and thriving in Indian Gaming
 The Tribe itself, is not only concerned about
  financial revenue as some may believe. They want
  their culture to be the main scope and want
  visitors and residents of the Coachella Valley to
  recognize where they have come from and where
  they are now.
 Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. (2009).
       “Tribal Council”. Retrieved on May 20,2009 from
 Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. (2009). “Planning
       and Development”. Retrieved May 20,2009 from
 Personal Interview with Sean Milanovich, May 18,2009.
 Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce. (2008)
       “People of the Hot Water: Culture & History of Agua
       Caliente”. Rancho Mirage City Guide, pp 53-59.

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