The palm oasis of Andreas Canyon, ancestral home of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, was the idyllic setting for Dinner In The Canyons benefiting the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum. The annual event was attended by 370 museum supporters including tribal officials and elected Coachella Valley and Riverside County leaders.
The evening started with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres served at sunset on a plateau overlooking the Coachella Valley. Dinner followed under a starry sky. Speakers were Michael Hammond, Executive Director Agua Caliente Cultural Museum (ACCM), Mildred (“Millie”) Brown, ACCM Board Chair; Jeff L. Grubbe, Chairman Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians who welcomed the crowd via video since he was unable to attend; Larry N. Olinger, Vice Chairman, who introduced dignitaries including tribal officials from neighboring cities and counties; and Amara Pate “Miss Agua Caliente” who spoke of her world travels as representative of her people and how much she has learned through her travels.
Michael Hammond conducted a live auction. Successful bidders included Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit who purchased an exquisite Native American necklace as an anniversary gift for his wife, Sheryl. Other elected officials present included Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, Assemblyman Brian Nestande, Desert Hot Springs Mayor Yvonne Parks, Rancho Mirage Mayor Pro-Tem Iris Smotrich and Rancho Mirage city councilman Dana Hobart.
A highlight of the evening was a performance by MATOU, six Native American and Maori performers who presented an eclectic fusion of Native American flute music and traditional Maori chants — a sweet blend of funk, soul, hip-hop, and rap combined with their own distinct Polynesian groove rhythms.
There were many underwriters but the largest was the $50,000. Eagle Sponsorship from the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians. Funds from the dinner and auction will keep the Agua Caliente heritage alive through exhibitions, collections, research, and educational programs that reach 28,000 adults and children each year.