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Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians donates over $1.3 Million

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By Kris Benz

On Friday April 13th, The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians held their 12th Annual Charitable Donations Event at one of their casinos. There were 99 recipients that shared $1,320,000 this year including the African American Chamber of Commerce Palm Springs.

Richard M. Milanovich, Chairman officiated in front of hundreds of people. The Tribal Council presenters were Jeff Grubbe- Vice Chairman, Moraino Patencio - Secretary/Treasurer, Jeanette Prieto-Dodd - Member, and Vincent Gonzales - Member.

Chairman Richard M. Milanovich with Palm Springs Mayor Ron Oden
The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians gave out more than $1.2 million to a host of charities, civic organizations, police and fire funds and libraries at the Annual Donations Event last year.

The tribe operates two casinos, a resort hotel and spa, a government office, a planning and engineering department, a golf course, the Indian Canyons Park and a host of health and education programs as well as services for its more than 400 tribal members.

Long before the Federal Government imposed its first environmental requirements under the National Environmental Policy Act in 1970, tribal members determined in 1959 that they must provide comprehensive stewardship of the land while carefully managing their real estate resources.

Coming in March 2008 there will be a 15 story, 344-room hotel beside the Agua Caliente Casino which will help upgrade an industrial area near the center of the Coachella Valley.

The tribe has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the City of Palm Springs for public safety concerns associated with its Spa Resort Casino though its compact does not require it. The tribes new hotel construction connected to its casino near Rancho Mirage has prompted work on a new MOU with Riverside County.

In 1975, the U.S, Court of Appeals ruled that county and municipal ordinances may not be applied to Indian trust land, and that the primary authority to control the use and development of Reservation trust land lies with each tribe. Previously, Palm Springs had sought to unilaterally impose its own zoning regulations on tribal land around the City.

Tribal control of the use and development of Reservation trust land could have brought great conflict between the Tribe and Palm Springs. However, this did not happen. Instead, this clarification in the law ushered in a new and ongoing spirit of cooperation between the tribe and City Hall. Tribal and City leaders both recognized the value of cooperative planning and development of Reservation trust land.

Organizations that received monies were the Alzheimer's Association, Cathedral City Boys and Girls Club, Desert Academy of the Arts Foundation, FIND Food Bank Inc., Palm Springs Air Museum, Well Institute Critical Care Medicine and many more.

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