Agua Caliente Band Of Cahuilla Indians Hosts Tribal Summit With Southern California Association Of Governments

Palm Springs, CA — The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians recently hosted a Tribal Summit with the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) at the Spa Resort Hotel.

The summit was the fifth gathering of SCAG representatives and local Tribes who together are crafting an unprecedented agreement that would provide Southern California Tribal governments participation in the regional planning process as other member municipalities.

“The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is gratified that SCAG is recognizing local Tribes should be granted the opportunity to lend their voice to decisions that impact the communities in which they are located, where they contribute financially and where they have sought to measurably improve the quality of life,” noted Tribal Chairman Richard M. Milanovich. “I know the other Tribal governments share my sentiments that we welcome the chance to participate in and to contribute to SCAG’s decisions that affect us all.”

Facilitated by Joe Loya, Torrez-Martinez Property Resource Manager, SCAG has been conducting a series of Tribal Summits with 16 Southern California Tribes to discuss becoming voting members of SCAG’s Regional Council, a governing body composed of 76 city and county elected officials and transportation commissioners.

“As the region continues to grow, the role of Tribal Governments in the planning process will continue to take on greater importance,” said SCAG President Ron Roberts. “I look forward to continuing the dialogue and identifying the most effective means of getting the Tribes’ input into our planning initiatives.”

In November 2002, SCAG adopted a Strategic Plan that included the goal of establishing a role for Tribal Governments in the regional planning process, including voting membership. Since then several Tribes have presented resolutions to SCAG endorsing their Tribal Governments’ intent to work with SCAG on developing a formal working relationship.

Several of the Tribes have presented resolutions to SCAG that were added to the agenda of the 2005 General Assembly that took place on May 4 in Los Angeles. The event also marked SCAG’s 40th Anniversary.

Among the Tribes presenting resolutions were Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, Ramona Band of Cahuilla Indians, Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians, Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, and Augustine Band of Mission Indians.

SCAG is the Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Southern California, the nation’s largest metropolitan area. SCAG is comprised of the cities in six counties including Riverside, Imperial, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles and Ventura.

Historically through SCAG, city and county governments come together to develop solutions to common problems in transportation, housing, air quality, waste management and other critical issues.

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, whose reservation comprises portions of the cities of Palm Springs, Cathedral City and Rancho Mirage as well as unincorporated sections of Riverside County, has inhabited the Coachella Valley for thousands of years.

In 1995, the Agua Caliente Tribe converted its Spa Hotel ballroom into the first casino in Palm Springs. In 2001, working with a talented team of architects and designers in Las Vegas – Bergman & Associates and Yates & Silverman, respectively — it opened a second casino, Agua Caliente Casino in Rancho Mirage. Subsequently in 2003, the Tribe opened its dazzling new $90 million Spa Resort Casino in downtown Palm Springs.

Working with world-class architects Wimberly Allison Tong & Goo, and designers Dougall Design, to create an elegant gaming/dining/entertainment destination venue, the 119,0000-square-foot Spa Resort Casino has helped revitalize tourism to the downtown sector.

Today, the Tribe’s enterprises include gaming, entertainment, dining, golf, as well as a spa and fitness center. In addition, the Tribe owns part interest in a locally owned financial institution, Canyon National Bank. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, known as passionate environmental stewards, diligently preserves its Indian Canyons as sacred natural resources. Among the five canyons comprised in Indian Canyons, Palm Canyon is the world’s largest natural fan palm oasis. Both Palm Canyon and Tahquitz Canyon are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.