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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 centuries. In 1877, President Ulysses S. Grant, established the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation by Executive Order. The Tribal trust Lands in California 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 members. 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 cities 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 opened. • 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 entertainment. 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 Preservation 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 Cahuilla 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 years. 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 Indians 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 million. 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 programs. Conclusion 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. References Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. (2009). “Tribal Council”. Retrieved on May 20,2009 from http://www.aguacaliente.org/default.aspx?tabid= 54#chairman. Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. (2009). “Planning and Development”. Retrieved May 20,2009 from http://www.aguacaliente.org/PlanningDevelopment/t abid/59/Default.aspx. 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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