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Agua Caliente cultural plaza to be ‘epicenter’ of cultural heritage tourism in CA, officials promise

Local and state tribal leaders are joining with Visit California to announce a new cultural initiative that honors Native American tribes. You can watch it in the player below.

The 'epicenter for all cultural heritage tourism'

"This will be the epicenter for all cultural heritage tourism in California," said Visit California's President & Ceo, Caroline Beteta, while standing in front of the Palm Springs site of the new Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians cultural plaza.

The announcement of the "massive new cultural heritage initiative that shines a spotlight on California's Native American heritage, immersive cultural experiences, and abundance of native lands" was detailed further.

Exploring Native American Culture in California

"The Visit California platform will feature blogs, podcasts, itineraries, and more to showcase cultural centers, museums, parks, trails, festivals, and hotels where travelers can experience our native past as well as the dynamic modern lives of our native people. The first wave of content and that development will come and be complete about March 2023," Beteta said. "This plaza where we stand is a great example of what Visit California visit native California is all about."

Visit California has expanded online content to encourage visitors to explore Native American culture in California. "Today California has the largest Native American population of any state and, according to the 2020 U.S. Census, approximately 1.4 million Californians identify as full or partially American Indian and Alaskan Native," the site reads.

Beteta was joined by The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Chairman, Reid D. Milanovich, American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association President & CEO Sherry Rupert, and the Yurok Tribe Vice Chairman Frankie Myers.

California’s indigenous peoples celebrate and commemorate their unique heritage at tribal museums and cultural centers throughout the state. Right in the heart of Palm Springs, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians is building an ambitious new cultural plaza with design details and architecture inspired by basketry, pottery, and desert landscapes. The plaza features a 48,000-square-foot museum that’s destined to be California’s most impressive Native American cultural facility. It will include an interpretive trail and a spa at the site of the healing hot springs the tribe has used for thousands of years.

visit california

The Agua Caliente cultural plaza

The Agua Caliente cultural plaza is under construction. According to planning documents, "The new Museum includes approximately 48,000 square feet and will feature collections in a main gallery, changing gallery and art gallery. The new Museum, a repository for cultural artifacts, stories and history, will also include an education center and garden. The spa includes approximately 40,000 square feet to celebrate the ancient healing waters of the Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring with treatments rooms, men and women’s bathhouses, a tranquility garden, a salon, fitness center and outdoor mineral pools."

"This is a historic step forward for Visit California," said American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association President & CEO Sherry Rupert. "This can't be a one-time effort, but must be a long-term relationship In order for this to be sustainable." She outlined efforts to continue the partnership into future years, including the hiring of "a cultural tourism navigator to be housed here in California to assist with the sustainability of these efforts that are being launched here today."

Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing coverage. Watch News Channel 3 at 4, 5, and 6 tonight for live reports on the announcement.

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Crystal Jimenez

Crystal Jimenez is a news reporter who joined the KESQ News Channel 3 team in June 2021. Learn more about Crystal here.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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