CHIRIACO SUMMIT – Pioneers’ Museum’s new staff, Executive Director Caitlin Chávez and archivist Tyler Brinkerhoff, and Naval Air Facility El Centro Public Information Officer Kris Haugh partner to increase access to local history by exploring the General Patton Memorial Museum and the Coachella Valley History Museum.

The two groups traveled together on Friday, May 19, to achieve different goals, with Haugh hoping to secure a traveling Patton exhibit for the next NAF Air Show and Pioneer’s staff hoping to develop ideas to update the Pioneers' Museum’s exhibits.

Despite the difference in goals, traveling together seemed like common sense, Haugh said, since part of his mission is developing partnerships will community groups like the Pioneers' Museum to assist him in educating the community on the base and its history.

As Imperial County continues to grow, interest and demand for access to the largely unstudied history of the county has become a top priority for museum staff, Chávez said on the partnership-budding field trip.

In addition to exploring different ways to present that history, all three became more educated on specific pieces of Imperial County’s history, such as General Patton’s time at Camp Young and the culture of the native people of the northern part of Imperial County: the Cahuilla.

Camp Young was the headquarters for General Patton's 3rd Armored Division after the War Department ordered Patton to create a desert training center in California in March 1942, according to displays in the Patton Museum.

Camp Young was the 3rd Armored Division main maneuvers area in training for tank warfare to prepare troops to battle North Africa to fight the Nazis and was active during the war, closing in 1944, according to the Patton Museum.

After exploring the Patton Museum and its wide collection of tanks, the group moved on to the Coachella Valley History Museum, where they learned about the 10 Bands of Cahuilla, which are divided into three groups: the Pass Cahuilla, the Mountain Cahuilla, and the Desert Cahuilla.

The traditional Cahuilla territory was bounded to the north by the San Bernardino Mountains, to the south by Borrego Springs and the Chocolate Mountains, to the east by the Colorado Desert, and to the west by the San Jacinto Plain and the eastern slopes of the Palomar Mountains.

The Desert Cahuilla inhabited Imperial County’s North End, according to the Coachella Valley History Museum, around the southern end of the Salton Sea. There are three bands in the area, the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indian, the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, and, most nearby, the Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians.

After exploring the Coachella Valley History Museum, the group explored the Coachella Valley History Museum’s restored historic schoolhouse for ideas on how to restore Pioneers' own Rose School.

“This has been a wonderful experience," Chávez said.

“This was the perfect chance for us to talk shop and share ideas," Haugh said. "I think this is the beginning of a strong partnership.”

"We have so many ideas as to what we can do next,” Chávez said.

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