Agua Caliente Cultural Museum Display


The Palm Desert Campus is proud to host artwork provided by the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum. Our unique partnership with the Agua Caliente Band of Indians allows students, staff, faculty and visitors to enjoy the artwork and learn more about the Agua Caliente culture and heritage. The art is on display in the Rogers Gateway Building lobby outside the Oliphant Auditorium. Please come by and visit.

Cahuilla Cowboys - Making Our Marks, is the current exhibition. Created by the Agua Caliente Cultural Museum, the display features how the Cahuilla became cowboys in the 1700's, long before the American cowboy developed.

The first "cowboys" were Indians: Long ago - before the "American Cowboy", there were Native cowboys. Beginning in mission times in the 1700s, Indians were trained as cowboys for the vast herds of the Spanish missions.

Cahuilla cowboy riding a horse

They called themselves vaqueros, from vaca, the Spanish word for cow.

Young Cahuilla cowboy posing for photo

It's a little-known fact that the Cahuilla people were the only tribe on the North American continent ever to organize a rebellion on the same grounds as the American Revolution - taxation without representation. From the Gold Rush, the American Revolution, the Rancheros and the Cahuilla Fiestas of the 1920s, this exhibition takes a look at the Native people making this amazing journey.

Cattle and horses were an important source of livelihood for the Cahuilla people. Cahuilla Cowboys were well established in ranching when the first settlers arrived.

Cahuilla cowboy standing with horse

It wasn't until the late 1860s that the term "cowboy" came into widespread use. Vaqueros had their own style of riding, roping, and dressing. They were the first of their kind, and they invented the cowboy trade and style as we know it today.

Three Cahuilla cowboys

You will also learn about the influence of the Spanish Conquistadors, and how the Padres from the Missions began teaching Native Americans to be equestrians.