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Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians

Palm Springs Indian Heritage

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. Indian Canyons is the collective reference of  Palm, Murray, and Andreas canyons which are situated together. Since then, many traces of these communities exist in the canyons today, including rock art, house pits and foundations, reservoirs, trails, and food processing areas.

Archaeological research uncovered that the Cahuilla occupied Tahquitz Canyon for at least 5,000 years. The Cahuilla Indian name for Palm Springs area was Sec-he (boiling water); the Spanish who arrived named it Agua Caliente (hot water). And then came the name “Palm Springs” in reference to both the native Washigtonia filifera palm tree and Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Springs.

andreas canyon palm springs

Agua Caliente Government Deeds

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 Southern California Railroad 10 miles of odd sections of land to intice 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.

murray canyon palm springs

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