Albert Santos Patencio: Keeper of the Bathhouse

Albert Santos Patencio: Keeper of the Bathhouse


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Albert Patencio

Gift of Renona Pennington

The three bathhouses which stood at the site of the Hot Spring were important tribal enterprises for the Agua Caliente Band. They provided much needed income during a period of limited economic opportunities. Groundskeepers were required to look after the daily operations of the baths, including the acceptance of entrance fees, limiting use time to 20 minutes, and enforcing sanitary rules.

Although there were many tribal members employed in this manner, Albert Santos Patencio remains one of the more memorable of the tribal members who filled this role.  Albert lived during a transitional period in Agua Caliente life and was active in both tribal affairs and the non-Indian community.

Palm Springs at the turn of the century began to develop a robust tourist industry attracting health-seekers and invalids, thanks to the popularity and curative reputation of the Hot Spring. Following construction of the Desert Inn, one of the first non-Indian businesses catering to health-seekers, Albert became the new hotel’s first handyman. He routinely drove to the new Southern Pacific Railway station at Seven Palms to pick up hotel guests and to gather provisions. In tribal life Albert held the position of net, or ceremonial leader, between the years 1947-1951.

In traditional times, the net was responsible for perpetuating the cultural laws and history of the Cahuilla people, codified by an intricate system of songs.