Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians
Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians, Coachella California

"Embracing Heritage"

The Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians is a band of Native Americans based in Coachella. In size, they are the smallest tribal nation in the United States, consisting today of six family members who are all related to Tribal Chairperson Mary Ann Green, who is the owner the Augustine Casino.

Like the history of many other California Indians this strange but true story has it origins in the smallpox epidemics and massacres that were all too common in the early years of the Golden State. These maladies had reduced the Augustine Band to 11 members by 1951.

The story begins with Roberta Augustine who was born on September 21, 1937. Her daughter, MaryAnn Martin, the current Tribal Chairperson, was born in 1964, long after the Reservation had ceased to be occupied by members of the Augustine Band.

In 1986 the Tribe lost its sole remaining member when Roberta Augustine passed away that year. A few years after Roberta Augustine's death, her granddaughter, Maryann Martin, who was raised by her African-American grandmother and previously unaware of her ancestry, found out about her Augustine heritage and decided to move back onto the reservation with her three children. After her two brothers were killed by gang gunfire in Los Angeles, Martin acquired custody of their four children as well. The extended family currently comprises the entire Augustine Tribe. It was Ms. Martin's decision to embrace her Indian roots that marked a new beginning for the Augustine Band. Her exploration of this background eventually lead to her being elected Tribal Chairperson in 1988, re-establish a Tribal Government in 1994, and to resettle the Reservation in 1996.

The Tribal Government currently employs 8 people, has initiated a comprehensive economic development program designed to ensure the economic future of the Band for generations to come and the preservation and development of Cahuilla culture. The initial steps in the implementation of this plan have thus far included an analysis of the economic development potential of the Reservation, the adoption of a Zoning Code to regulate land use on the Reservation, removing refuse dumped by trespassers on the Reservation, and, in 2002, the construction of a small casino on approximately 20 acres of the Reservation. The casino has become the economic engine that will allow the Augustine Band to achieve its goal of cultural self-sufficiency.

The Casino is located adjacent to Indio and within minutes of many other Coachella Valley gaming & entertainment venues. Open 24 hours, the casino features slot machines, progressive jackpots, four and three card poker, single and Spanish 21, restaurants, live entertainment and many successful promotions.