A new cultural center will not only bring the culture and history of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians to a greater audience, but in a way that engages and makes connections beyond its brick and mortar existence.
“This museum is going to speak, if you listen,” said Rep. Raul Ruiz at the groundbreaking ceremony on May 11 in Palm Springs. “This museum is going to dance, if you pay attention. This museum is going to make you feel things. It's going to have a relationship with its surroundings.”
Hundreds attended the groundbreaking, including Riverside County Supervisor Manny Perez, Riverside County District Attorney Mike Hestrin, a representative on behalf of Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia, Palm Springs Mayor Robert Moon and Palm Springs city council members, mayors and city council members from surrounding desert cities, Tribal Council members and tribal members. Also in attendance were tribal members from Torres-Martinez, San Manuel, Morongo and Pechanga, among others. Bird singers and dancers opened and closed the groundbreaking event by sharing with the crowd Bird Songs that tell the story of the tribe’s migration.
Slated to open in 2020, the Agua Caliente Cultural Center will be spread out across 5.8 acres. The site will include a new 48,000 square foot cultural museum,and new 40,000 square foot spa and bathhouse, a winding trail that will replicate Andreas Canyon, one of the tribe’s ancestral homes. Natural desert landscapes, pottery, and basket weaving are some of the center’s cultural inspirations.
“This museum, if you pay attention, is going to move you, is going to inspire you, is going to make you feel proud of being in their land, of being a neighbor of theirs, of being a part of our American history,” added Ruiz.
Tribal Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe said the location of the cultural museum at the intersection of Tahquitz Canyon and Indian Canyon Drive represents thousands of years of tribal memories. The cultural center will bring that history alive.
“Each federally recognized tribe throughout this country has a distinct culture that includes traditions, language, historic clothing and housing styles, as well as historical food and medicine preparations,” Grubbe said. “We want to share that with others, as well as acknowledge the fact that we are alive and well today living in the modern world.”
“This cultural center will give residents and visitors alike the same opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of the Cahuilla culture,” Ruiz said. “This is important because it will foster greater respect, unity, and understanding within our community. It is also very exciting because it will be one of the largest Native American cultural centers in the entire country, bringing visitors from across the world and lifting up our entire region's economy.”