Online Exhibitions

Bathhouse #1: Late 1880s

Agua Caliente bathhouse, late 1880s

Acknowledging of the popularity of the Hot Spring and its potential for building tribal revenues, tribal leaders in 1889 leased the Spring and the land surrounding it to settlers for three years in exchange for an annual rental of $150.00, land improvements, and use of the Hot Spring waters during non-business hours. A rustic bathhouse, described by James Smeaton Chase as a “rickety little hut,” was constructed on the site. The lease of the Spring was later renewed for a period of ten years.

The leasing of the Hot Spring and other tribal assets were savvy business decisions that would prove to be valuable precedents for the general development of the tribe in the years to come. Land leasing, business development, and tourism laid the foundation for the City of Palm Springs and continue to support the tribe to this day. Business decisions of this type were a continuation of the traditional role of Cahuilla leaders, which was to make economic decisions and utilize land to its best advantage on behalf of their communities. In traditional times, elders advised how to properly utilize an environment that was unpredictable and continually changing. Their ability to apply these traditional skills within the context of a new socio-economic reality would serve them well.

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