First All Woman Tribal Council

First All Woman Tribal Council

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1955 all-woman Tribal Council. L-R: Vice Chairman LaVerne Saubel, Member Elizabeth Monk, Member Gloria Gillette, Chairman Vyola Olinger, Secretary Eileen Miguel

Please note there was at least one earlier all-woman business committee prior to the 1955 council pictured here

Used by Permission of The (Palm Springs, CA) Desert Sun


The book Stories & Legends of the Palm Springs Indians by Agua Caliente elder and ceremonial leader Francisco Patencio is published. Concerned that Cahuilla people were no longer learning sacred songs, ceremonies, or even the Cahuilla language, Patencio worked with ethnographers to help preserve such knowledge.


Ceremonial leader Albert Patencio dies and the decision is made to burn and not rebuild the ceremonial house, formally making a break with traditional life.


The Agua Caliente Band passes its first modern Constitution and By-Laws.


The Agua Caliente Band forms the first all-woman tribal council in the United States. This group and subsequent councils successfully oppose federal termination efforts and obtain the first long-term lease legislation in the United States for Indian lands, clearing the way for tribal land development across the country.

Arguing on behalf of non-discriminatory land lease reform, Eileen Miguel once famously stated in a federal hearing: "We have valuable land, but you can't eat dirt."