September 20, 2012

Bridge dedicated to Milanovich

Palm Springs dedicates bridge to Richard Milanovich

Community members, valley leaders gather to dedicate bridge to late tribal chairman

By Tamara Sone
Under clear desert skies, surrounded by the San Jacinto mountains, more than 100 people gathered at the corner of Belardo Road and Sunny Dunes on Thursday to take part in the dedication ceremony of the Chairman Richard M. Milanovich Memorial Bridge.

Milanovich, 69, chairman of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, died March 11 after a long bout with cancer.

“I know Richard is probably smiling upon us right now for many reasons, not only that I dressed a little bit better than the mayor,” succeeding Tribal Chairman Jeff Grubbe said, laughing about his decision to wear a suit and tie despite the warm weather.

“He would be humbled and very appreciative that the City of Palm Springs named this bridge after him.”
Comment:  It's not much of a bridge: maybe 200 feet over a shallow gully. But with its red fence and yellow and orange patter, it's certainly colorful.

What you should remember is that Milanovich was a respected leader throughout Indian country. He lived in California, not the Great Plains...was a chairman, not a chief...and wore a business suit, not buckskins and a headdress. He could serve as the face of modern tribal leadership.

For more on Agua Caliente, see Two World Championship Fights on the Rez and Expedia Award for Agua Caliente.


Jasna said...

His surname is Slavic, from Balkan people, Serbian specific. How come he is a Native?

Jasna said...

I'm not attacking, I'm just curious about how it happened.

Rob said...

Richard came by his commitment to serve his people by familial influence. His maternal grandfather, Richard Amado Miguel, farmed the land of the reservation; Richard thereby inherited his devotion and respect for the land. He also followed in the footsteps of his mother, LaVerne Saubel, who served on the tribe’s only all-women tribal council that successfully lobbied Congress in 1957 in a landmark bill that passed Tribal Constitution By-Laws. This bill gave the Agua Caliente Tribe the authority for the first time to form a governing Tribal Council. La Verne Way in South Palm Springs is named after his mother.

His father, Steve Milanovich, was Serbian by birth which explains the unusual name for a tribal chief. Richard was born in 1942 on the Soboba Reservation in nearby San Jacinto. As his mother and father divorced when Richard was a boy, he was mostly raised by his mother. He and his sister Virginia grew up in what is known as the Section 14 area of Palm Springs, a hardscrabble piece of the Reservation that now houses some of Palm Springs’ glamorous hotels. He attended Cahuilla Elementary and Palm Springs High School.