Thousands Bid Farewell to Tribal Leader
PALM SPRINGS-- Family, friends and the public bid farewell to Richard Milanovich today, one of the most powerful tribal leaders in California.
The Chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians died earlier this month from cancer, at 69 years old.
At the memorial service at the Palm Springs Convention Center, Milanovich was remembered as as courageous, a mentor and as having an unbound sense of humor and wit.
"I want to say, is just the incredible spirit of this man, how he took his community ans started building, getting the rules changed in Washington to starting the first operations here," said Gov. Jerry Brown.
As the chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians for nearly 30 years, Milanovich led the tribe to build the $400 million Agua Caliente Spa and Casino. Remembered as a visionary leader, he fought for the rights of his people all the way to Washington.
"Whether is was at the White House, visiting other members of Congress, or just in my office, being in Richard's company filled me with great pride and confidence that our community was beintg very ably represented," said Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack.
"We would have converstations over coffee about working hard, and ensuring that one success is also the success of others," said Assemblymember V. Manuel Perez.
From humble beginings in Palm Springs, he would emerge as one of the most powreful tribal leaders in the state and nation.
"He knew how to relate to people how to get things done, so it was great to be able to watch him, how he did things and how he got things done for his peopl," said Mark Macarro, Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians.
He died after a two year battle with cancer and is survived by his wife of 37 years and six children.
"He's such an inspiration for everyone. He gave up so much of his life and I just want to wish him peace," said Mary Jean Dial, Pala Band of Mission Indians.
A trailblazier of his time and now a legacy carried on.
Jessica Flores, KMIR6 News.