Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Howka tribal members... there is a great new book out about the first all-women tribal council in the United States. The book is called You Can't Eat Dirt.. (read below the press release)
May 1, 2012, 6:00 a.m. EDT

Fan Palm Research Project Launches New Book on Trailblazing Native American Woman Leader

SANTA BARBARA, Calif., May 01, 2012 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- "We are just dirt rich," admitted Vyola Olinger (later Ortner) in the summer of 1958, when, as chairman of the first all-women tribal council in the United States, she presided over "one of the biggest real estate deals . . . in the country" and the most consequential ever on Indian land. Released by the Fan Palm Research Project, You Can't Eat Dirt: Leading the First All-Women Tribal Council and How We Changed Palm Springs chronicles Olinger's trailblazing political career.
Part autobiography, part biography, this beautifully designed and thoroughly researched publication--filled with rare historical documents and archival photographs--tells the remarkable story of Olinger's rapid ascent in 1954 to the chairmanship of the Tribal Council for the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in Palm Springs, California. It explains how--against all odds--she and her fellow female tribal leaders came together during the 1950s to forever alter the destinies and fortunes of the Agua Caliente Cahuilla and, ultimately, of other tribes across this nation.
     At the heart of this amazing success story is Olinger's campaign to maximize the potential of her tribe's primary economic asset--land. Olinger wisely understood that this profoundly underutilized resource could transform her people. Consequently, in a sequence of many "firsts" for the tribe, she pioneered innovative models of business development and progressive governance. At the same time, she built new and enduring relationships between the Agua Caliente Cahuilla and the city of Palm Springs, motivated to protect and enhance some 7,000 acres that the tribe owned within the city limits. She went on to fight for her people in the halls of congress, both in Sacramento and Washington, D.C., amending and creating historic legislation.
     Among Olinger's most noteworthy accomplishments was the establishment of the right of tribal members to enter into long-term leases of reservation land--a radical departure from years-old restrictive Indian law and public policy. Signed by President Dwight Eisenhower in October 1959, this momentous legislation opened up entirely new business opportunities for the Agua Caliente Cahuilla as well as for other tribes throughout the United States.

At once an engaging personal testimony and an absorbing profile of an extraordinary political and business leader, this book is an essential addition to women's studies, Native American studies, US-Indian relations, tribal law, women business leaders, the history of modern Palm Springs, and the Agua Caliente Cahuilla.

You Can't Eat Dirt, by Vyola J. Ortner and Diana C. du Pont, is available through ,, and selected venues.

For further information, including the full text of the press release for the book launch and author biographies, please visit .

To request a review copy, please contact

Photos/Multimedia Gallery Available:

SOURCE: Fan Palm Research Project

Fan Palm Research Project

Diana du Pont

Tel. 805-453-9333

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