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Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians facts for kids

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Agua Caliente Band
of Cahuilla Indians
Total population
2010: 410 alone and in combination
Regions with significant populations
United States (California)
English, Cahuilla language
Traditional Tribal religion, Catholic and Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Cahuilla people

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians of the Agua Caliente Indian Reservation is a federally recognized tribe of the Cahuilla, located in Riverside County, California. They inhabited the Coachella Valley desert and surrounding mountains between 5000 BCE and 500 CE. With the establishment of the reservations, the Cahuilla were officially divided into 10 sovereign nations, including the Agua Caliente Band.


Aqua Caliente Reservation - NARA - 298622
Aqua Caliente Reservation in 1928

The Agua Caliente Indian Reservation was founded on May 15,1876 through Executive Order and signed by President Ulysses S. Grant and occupies 31,610 acres (12,790 ha). On 1877 and 1907 the Reservation was extended to over 32,000 acres of land. Since 6,700 acres (2,700 ha) of the reservation are within Palm Springs city limits, the tribe is the city's largest collective landowner. The tribe owns Indian Canyons, located southwest of Palm Springs. The canyons are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. They also own land in the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument.


Agua Caliente is one of three reservations where speakers of the "Pass" dialect of the Cahuilla were located, the other two being the Morongo Indian Reservation and Augustine Indian Reservation. Pass Cahuilla is a dialect of Cahuilla found within the Cupan branch of Takic languages, part of the Uto-Aztecan language family. Though revitalization efforts are underway, all dialects of Cahuilla are technically considered to be extinct as they are no longer spoken at home, and children are no longer learning them as a primary language. The last native speaker of Pass Cahuilla died in 2008.

Programs and economic development

Tribal programs and family services

Tribal Family Services was established in 2003 to support social and educational programs for tribal members. Other services include cultural preservation, child development, and scholarships.

The Jane Augustine Patencio Cemetery provides burial services. (Palm Springs artist Carl Eytel is one of the few non-Indians buried in the cemetery.)

Agua Caliente Cultural Museum

The Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in Palm Springs was founded by the tribe in 1991. It houses permanent collections and archives, a research library, and changing exhibits, as well as hosting an annual film festival.

Spa resort and casinos

Agua Caliente casino
Image of Agua Caliente Casino in downtown Palm Springs

The tribe owns three major casinos. The first two are the Spa Resort Casino in downtown Palm Springs, California at the original hot springs and the Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa in Rancho Mirage, California. The resort at Rancho Mirage also includes a hotel, fitness center and spa, the Canyons Lounge, and seven different restaurants. The Spa Resort Casino, opened in 2003, features gaming, the Cascade Lounge, and four restaurants. The hotel in Downtown Palm Springs closed in 2014.

Ground was broken on the third Agua Caliente casino on November 4, 2019. It is located in Cathedral City, California and opened on November 25, 2020. The tribe annexed 13 acres of land to build the casino. The tribe is the only one in California to own more than one casino.

Indian Canyons

Tahquitz Canyon southwest of downtown Palm Springs is accessible for hiking and guided tours. The Indian Canyons (consisting of Palm Canyon, Murray Canyon, and Andreas Canyon) also accessible for hiking, horseback riding, and tours, are south of Palm Springs.

Golf courses

The tribe also maintains two golf courses in Indian Canyon which are open to the public.

Proposed downtown Palm Springs arena

In June 2019, it was announced that the tribe and entertainment company Oak View Group planned to build a privately funded arena on tribal land in downtown Palm Springs with the intent of the arena serving as the home ice for the expansion Seattle Kraken's American Hockey League affiliate. The arena was planned to begin construction in February 2020, but was suspended in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. By September 2020, OVG's negotiations with the tribe had come to a halt and the agreement was ended. The Oak View Group chose to build their arena elsewhere.

Notable tribal members

  • Tribal leaders who have been honored with "Golden Palm Stars" on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars include:
    • Richard Milanovich – Chairman of the Agua Caliente Band
    • Flora Agnes Patencio – Cahuilla Indian elder
    • Ray Leonard Patencio – Cahuilla Indian leader
    • Peter Siva – Cahuilla Tribal Chairman
  • Woodchuck Welmas (1891–1968) – professional NFL football player in the 1920s

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