Centuries ago, ancestors of the Agua Caliente Cahuilla (pronounced Kaw-we-ah) Indians settled in the Palm Springs area and developed extensive and complex communities in Palm, Murray, Andreas, Tahquitz and Chino Canyons. Abundant water and hundreds of plants and animals found throughout the area ensured stable living conditions. Many traces of these communities exist in the canyons today, including rock art, house pits and foundations, reservoirs, trails, and food processing areas.
The Agua Caliente Indians were industrious and creative with a reputation for independence, integrity, and peace. They believed this productive land of their ancestors would always be theirs. However in 1876, the U.S. Federal Government deeded in trust to the Agua Caliente people 32,000 acres for their homeland. At the same time, they gave the So. California Railroad ten miles of odd sections of land to induce them to build the railroad. Of the reservation's 32,000 acres, some 6,700 lie within the Palm Springs city limits. The remaining sections fan out across the desert and mountains in a checkerboard pattern.
As early as the 1890's, Palm Springs and the surrounding area have been described as a recreation oasis. Tahquitz Canyon and three southern canyons are listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Palm Canyon is considered the world's largest California Fan Palm Oasis.
The Aqua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians remains actively involved with the City of Palm Springs. In 1995, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians opened their first casino in a tent next to the Spa Resort Hotel in Palm Springs. Today, the Tribe has two hotels, two casinos, a golf resort, and entertainment venue.
Experience the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Indians
- Take a ranger-led tour and maze through the ancient palm groves, and explore the streams and waterfalls at Indian Canyons or Tahquitz Canyon.
- Learn about the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians through exhibitions, collections, research, and educational programs at the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum in downtown Palm Springs.
- Attend the annual Native FilmFest in March starring Native Americans and other indigenous people.
- Gaming and entertainment daily at the Spa Resort Casino, or Golf at the two signature courses at the Indian Canyons Golf Resort.
- Desert Plants in our desert