Agua Caliente Museum rendering.
PHOTO COURTESY AGUA CALIENTE BAND OF CAHUILLA INDIANS
The culture, history, and ancestral land of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians will be on full display when the long-awaited Agua Caliente Cultural Plaza opens this fall. The community grand opening is set for Friday, Nov. 3, and everyone is invited.
“When we share our culture, it helps preserve our culture,” Tribal Chairman Reid D. Milanovich says, noting that the plaza is a dream that has been 30 years in the making.
The 5.8-acre complex in downtown Palm Springs sits atop the Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring, also known as Séc-he, the Cahuilla term for “the sound of boiling water.” The last time the ancient waters saw the earth’s surface was more than 12,000 years ago. The waters bubble up from a depth of about a mile and half below the earth’s surface. A traditional gathering spot and source of sustenance for the tribe, the site is now home to the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, an education garden, and a state-of-the-art spa. The museum is at one end of the sacred grounds, while The Spa at Séc-he, opened in April, is at the other; an inviting Gathering Plaza and Oasis Trail connect the two.
With exhibits and programs encompassing Cahuilla history and culture, contemporary land stewardship, and stories and representations of the Tribe’s past, present, and future, the 48,000-square-foot Agua Caliente Cultural Museum also includes almost 10,000 square feet of permanent exhibition space dedicated to the tribe’s collection of artifacts, some recovered in 2018 from the plaza site itself and dated to more than 8,000 years old. The museum experience begins with a 12-minute film in the museum’s 360-degree animation theater that tells the creation and migration stories of the Agua Caliente people.
Agua Caliente Cultural Museum.
PHOTO BY KATE ANDERSON, COURTESY OF AGUA CALIENTE BAND OF CAHUILLA INDIANS
The Cultural Plaza’s outdoor spaces take a cue from the beauty and tranquility of the nearby Indian Canyons and Tahquitz Canyon. To reach the museum, visitors can meander down the serene Oasis Trail amid a proliferation of Washingtonia filifera palm trees, flowing water, and intriguing rock formations.
More than 130 years ago, the tribe began sharing the healing properties of the Hot Mineral Spring with visitors, which in turn heralded the very beginnings of Palm Springs itself. The Agua Caliente tribe is proud to welcome visitors to a destination where tribal members, residents, and visitors can gather, heal, relax and learn about the history, heritage, and wisdom of this sacred place.
For more details, visit aguacaliente.org.