The desert is already buzzing about the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, currently under construction and slated to open in 2020 in downtown Palm Springs.
At the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians’ annual Dinner in the Canyons charity event, held Oct. 6, speakers discussed the forthcoming museum and its connection to local classrooms. A partnership between the tribe and the Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD) has spawned a scholastic program that aims to “raise a future generation of lifelong learners, good citizens, and cultural ambassadors,” said Ellen Goodman, executive director of the Foundation for the Palm Springs Unified School District. Proceeds from the dinner benefited the initiative.
Starting this school year, nearly 2,000 third graders will be part of a new Native American curriculum where they will learn about tribal history and current events through storytelling, crafts, traditional bird-singing, rock art, and nature walks on tribal land through the canyons.
The curriculum was written for 7-year-olds to understand, and research included talking to 6-year-olds to gain their perceptions of the Band of Cahuilla Indians. PSUSD asked the 6-year-olds to draw their impressions of the tribe. “One boy said they are a rock band,” Goodman shared. “And one little girl drew a tall building and said that was the casino and next to the casino was a teepee, and that’s where they lived.”
“We’ll start this curriculum with third grade, go to eighth grade, and create an instructional pathway to high school, so when students graduate, there will be an understanding of our tribe, our local community, self-awareness, and a whole new view on life,” Goodman explained.
Tribal chairman Jeff L. Grubbe noted the much-anticipated cultural center and museum will help to raise awareness of the tribe’s history and help to break stereotypes. “When we open this new museum, we’ll have a new place to celebrate history, culture, traditions, and our hot mineral spring waters with people all over the world.”
Lulu Catering & Events treated Dinner in the Canyons guests to pre-dinner cocktails followed by a three-course meal. An additional speaker included Miss Agua Caliente 2018 Justice Galindo and CBS Local 2 meteorologist Patrick Evans emceed the event. The evening wrapped with a concert put on by Nashville-based country singer Lainey Wilson.
Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians
5401 Dinah Shore Drive
Palm Springs, CA 92264