|RICHARD MILANOVICH Obituary
SOURCES: Agua Caliente, Band of Cahuilla Indians
PALM SPRINGS, CA. — Jeff L. Grubbe, Vice Chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians Tribal Council:
"Today, we, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, have lost our great leader, Chairman Richard M. Milanovich. He was one of the most well respected Tribal Chairs in the entire Nation. For 28 years, under his leadership and dedication, we became one of the most respected and progressive Tribes in America.
“There was no one like Chairman Milanovich. He was a great teacher, an inspirational mentor, and most of all, a friend. We were fortunate to have his experience, wise counsel and incredible foresight for so long. Chairman Milanovich strongly believed that our younger members of the Tribe must understand the battles that were fought and won. Only through understanding our past can we forge a progressive future for our people and the generations to come.
“Chairman Milanovich was clear about cherishing the past and protecting the future. Under his leadership our Tribe developed economically, politically and culturally, and we are now in the position to make that our own promise. We pledge to him that we will continue the course that he has so well paved. All Agua Caliente Tribal Members join me today in the mourning of our great leader, but I also know they join me in expressing our profound gratitude for what he did for all of us.
"As Vice Chairman of the Tribal Council, I will assume the responsibilities of Acting Chairman, and pledge to honor and continue to empower the people of our Tribe, with the support of the Council and the Tribal Members."
1942: Richard M. Milanovich is born on Soboba Reservation in nearby Banning. He grows up in Section 14 housing in Palm Springs. He attends Cahuilla Elementary School and Palm Springs High School.
1960-1963: Richard M. Milanovich serves in the United States Army.
1972: Richard M. Milanovich returns to Palm Springs. Between 1972 and 1978, he runs unsuccessfully for Tribal Council three times.
1978: Richard M. Milanovich is elected to Tribal Council.
1977: Richard M. Milanovich marries Melissa Schmidt.
1984: Richard M. Milanovich is elected as Tribal Chairman.
1984 -1989: Chairman Milanovich helps craft ground-breaking land-use agreements with city of Cathedral City, city of Rancho Mirage, and Riverside County, modeled on an agreement struck with city of Palm Springs in the late 1970s, while he was a member of the Tribal Council. The intergovernmental deals were among the first of their kind and served as a model for Tribes throughout the rest of the country.
1991: Agua Caliente Cultural Museum is established as a not-for-profit organization to preserve, interpret, and provide access to the history and culture of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and other Cahuilla peoples — a long-standing dream of Chairman Milanovich.
1993: Under the Chairman’s leadership, the Tribe purchases the Spa Hotel.
1995: The Spa Resort Casino in downtown Palm Springs opens.
1996: Chairman Milanovich graduates with a Bachelor of Science in Business and Management from the University of Redlands.
1998: Chairman Milanovich is honored with a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Fame.
1999: Chairman Milanovich receives the Bureau of Land Management’s “Legacy of Land Award” given by the Department of Interior. Chairman Milanovich is named one of 365 “Valley Legends” of the 20th century by The Desert Sun.
1999-2000: The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, along with other Southern California Tribes, negotiate casino pacts with Governor Gray Davis, and the California voters’ approval of Prop. 1A in 2000 put the pacts in place.
2000: Chairman Milanovich is honored as the Palm Springs Area Boy Scouts’ Distinguished Citizen of the Year.
2001: Chairman Milanovich receives the Desert Business Achievement Award and the 2001 Spirit of the Valley Award. After decades of struggle with water rights, flood control, and squatter issues, Tahquitz Canyon reopens with a new visitors’ center and guided hikes.
2003: The Palm Springs Stroke Recovery Center honors Chairman Milanovich as Man of the Year for his philanthropic efforts. New Spa Resort Casino opens. The Desert Sun headline reads: “Spa Casino seen as new catalyst for downtown.”
2004: Chairman Milanovich is appointed to the Native American Stewardship Committee for the Autry National Center. Indian Canyons Golf Resort opens.
Measure U is approved by the voters of the city of Palm Springs to allow the Tribe to build an entertainment district on Section 14 in downtown Palm Springs to help grow the local economy. Chairman Milanovich becomes a Member of the Department of Interior’s Office of the Special Trustee Advisory Board for American Indians.
2005: Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce recognizes the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians as “Large Business of the Year.”
2006: International Hispanic Awards honors Chairman Milanovich for outstanding Humanitarian Leadership. Chairman Milanovich is instrumental in negotiating a gaming compact with Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger that allows the Tribe to expand its business.
2007: New Tribal Administration Plaza opens on Dinah Shore Drive. Chairman Milanovich is honored as Desert Magazine’s 2007 Person of the Year.
2006-2008: Milanovich and Governor Schwarzenegger negotiated a casino-expansion deal. After a long battle, voters ultimately approved the measures in 2008.
2008: Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa Hotel Opens with 314 deluxe guest rooms, 24 executive suites, and 2 presidential suites.
Chairman Milanovich becomes Chair of the Department of Interior’s Office of the Special Trustee Advisory Board for American Indians. Proposition 97 passes, which ratifies amendment to the existing gaming compact between the state and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians and permits the Tribe to operate up to 3,000 additional slot machines.
Under Chairman Milanovich’s leadership, both Indian Canyons Golf Resorts return to tribal leadership. His re-election marks the Chairman’s standing as the Tribe’s longest-serving Chairman in tribal history.
2009: Coachella Valley’s premier entertainment venue “The Show” opens with sold out concerts and rave reviews.
2010: Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce honors Chairman Milanovich as Business Man of the Year. The Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians erects the first of four 1.5-ton granite monuments to be mounted at the four corners of Section 14. The monument formally recognizes the importance that Section 14 had on the history, culture and economic livelihood of the Tribe and the city of Palm Springs.
2011: Chairman Milanovich is honored at dinner in the Canyons for his unprecedented tenure as Tribal Chairman and his enormous contributions to his Tribe and to the community of Palm Springs.
2012 March 11, 2012: The Chairman passed away.