Donald Trump tried to partner with Agua Caliente Band on casino

The Agua Caliente Band of Cahulla Indian owns and operates the Agua Caliente Spa Resort Casino in downtown Palm Springs, California. Photo from Facebook

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump tried to get the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians to enter into a casino partnership, The Washington Post reports.

Trump himself went to tribal headquarters in Palm Springs, California, in early 1993 and promised a "first-class" casino but nothing ever happened, according to the paper. The tribe went on to start its own successful gaming enterprise.

Yet later that year Trump went on the attack against Indian gaming. He told the House Subcommittee on Native American Affairs on October 5, 1993 that reservations were a hotbed of organized crime, an accusation that hasn't panned out.

"It’s just these wild charges; nothing has changed,” former Congressman Bill Richardson (D-New Mexico), who chaired the subcommittee at the time, told the paper. “He’s always operated this way.”

A few years later, Trump was trying to get in bed with Indian Country. He visited the Cowlitz Tribe in Washington in the early 2000s and again made big promises.

"Trump said it was the most incredible site he had ever seen, incredible," Dave Barnett, the son of the late Chairman John Barnett, told The Columbian earlier this year. The tribe ended up not going with the mogul after believing he was asking for too much money.

But in 2000, Trump signed a letter of intent to manage a casino for the Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians in California. By then his spotty track record was well known.

"I seriously doubt he'll follow through with his plan, because it's not very often that he follows through," the late visionary Richard Milanovich, who led the Agua Caliente Band for nearly three decades until his passing in March 2012, told The Los Angeles Times in March 2000.

Milanovich was basically proven right. The Twenty-Nine Palms Band ended its agreement with Trump after just three years, depriving him of the revenues he thought he was going to make out of the deal.

"That was some real ‘Art of the Deal’ stuff, wasn’t it?” Victor Rocha, the owner of, told The Palm Springs Desert Sun. “They figured out pretty quickly that this guy was not what he said he was, and they could do a better job. And they have.”

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Donald Trump’s long history of clashes with Native Americans (The Washington Post 7/25)

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