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Morongo Band of
Mission Indians
Morongo Reservation View.jpg
Christian Church on the Morongo Reservation
Total population
Regions with significant populations
United States United States (California California)
English, Pass Cahuilla, and Serrano.[2]
traditional tribal religion,
Christianity (Roman Catholicism)[3]
Related ethnic groups
other Cahuilla, Cupeño, and Serrano peoples

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians is a federally recognized tribe. The main tribal groups are Cahuilla and Serrano. Tribal members also include Cupeño, Luiseño, and Chemehuevi Indians.[4] Although many tribes in California are known as Mission Indians, some, like those at Morongo, were never a part of the Spanish Missions in California. The Morongo Reservation is located in Riverside County, California.[1]


The Morongo Reservation (33°57′10″N 116°48′28″W / 33.95278°N 116.80778°W / 33.95278; -116.80778) is located at the base of the San Gorgonio and San Jacinto Mountains. It is over 35,000 acres (14,000 ha) in size. On May 15, 1876, President Ulysses S. Grant established this and eight other reservations in the area by executive order.[5] Approximately 954 of the 996 enrolled tribal members live on the reservation.[1]

The name Morongo comes from the Serrano clan Maarrenga'. The first official "Captain" of Potrero Ajenio (aka San Gorgonio Agency) recognized by the Bureau of Indian Affairs was the hereditary leader of the Maarrenga', known to Americans by his English name, John Morongo. As time went on the Bureau referred to the tribe as the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.


The Morongo Band of Mission Indians is headquartered in Banning, California. They are governed by a democratically elected tribal council. Their current administration is as follows:

  • Robert Martin, Chairman
  • Mary Ann Martin-Andreas, Vice-Chairman
  • Charles Martin, Councilmember
  • Ann Robinson, Councilmember
  • Tom Linton, Councilmember
  • Brian Lugo, Councilmember
  • Damon Sandoval, Councilmember[6]


Cahuilla and Serrano are Takic languages, part of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The main aboriginal group of the San Gorgonio Pass are Pass Cahuilla, who call the area Maalki. The Serrano, who had traditionally intermarried with the Pass Cahuilla, and who have lived in the area since well before the inception of the reservation, call the area Maarrkinga'. Cahuilla and Serrano are technically considered to be extinct as they are no longer spoken at home, and children are no longer learning them as primary languages.[7] Joe Saubel, a Morongo tribal member and the last pure speaker of Pass Cahuilla, died in 2008. The last pure speaker of Serrano was also enrolled at Morongo, Ms. Dorothy Ramon, who died in 2002. Recent generations have found a renewed interest in their native languages however, and many families are now reclaiming Pass Cahuilla and Serrano for their children.[8]

In 2012, the Limu Project announced that it had successfully reconstructed Pass Cahuilla, and is offering an online course.[9] The project also offers online courses in Maarrenga' (Morongo Band "Serrano" dialect) and Yuhaviat (Santos Manuel Band "Serrano" dialect).[10]

Programs, economic and cultural development[edit]


Morongo Casino, Riverside County, California

The tribe opened a small bingo hall in 1983, which became the foundation of what is now one of the oldest Native gaming enterprises in California. The government of Riverside County, California attempted to shut down the bingo hall, so the tribe joined with the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians in a lawsuit eventually decided by the U.S. Supreme Court. On February 25, 1987, the court upheld the right of sovereign Indian tribes to operate gaming enterprises on their reservations.[11]

The Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa was opened in 2004 in Cabazon, California.[5] It is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. The hotel has 310 rooms. Several restaurants and bars are part of the complex, Desert Orchid: Contemporary Asian Cuisine, Potrero Canyon Buffet, Cielo: Pacific Coast Steak and Seafood Restaurant, Serrano, Sunset Bar and Grill, a food court, Mystique Lounge, and the Pit Bar. The club, 360, is open on weekends.[12]


A bottling plant on the reservation is operated by Nestle Waters North America Inc., which leases the property from the tribe. The plant bottles Arrowhead spring water as well as purified water sold under the brand Nestle Pure Life. In his 2010 book "Bottled and Sold," author said the plant was producing more than 1 billion bottles of Arrowhead spring water per year.[13]


The Malki Museum on the Morongo Reservation is open to the public. It maintains the Malki Museum Press, which publishes the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology and scholarly books on Indian culture. The reservation is also home to the Limu Project, a tribal community-based nonprofit organization that helps families preserve knowledge of their indigenous languages, history, and cultural traditions.[14]


Two churches are on the Morongo Reservation. They are the Protestant Morongo Moravian Church and the Catholic St. Mary's Mission, maintained by the Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Community.[15][16]

Notable tribal members[edit]


  1. ^ a b c California Indians and Their Reservations: M. San Diego State University Library and Information Access. 2010 (retrieved 18 May 2010)[dead link]
  2. ^ Eargle, 111
  3. ^ Pritzker, 120
  4. ^ Pritzker 24, 120
  5. ^ a b "California v. Cabazon" Mary Ann Irwin. (retrieved 5 September 2010)
  6. ^ "Tribal Council." Morongo Band of Mission Indians. Retrieved 10 Jan 2011.
  7. ^ Hinton, 28, 32
  8. ^ Blankenship, Arkamez. "Awakening Wanikik". The Limu Project. Retrieved 6 June 2012. 
  9. ^ "Awakening Wanikik". The Limu Project. 2012-02-11. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  10. ^ "iLearn Course Portal – iLearn. Wanipiyapa (Wanikik, Palm Springs Cahuilla, Pass Cahuilla)". The Limu Project. Retrieved 2013-05-08. 
  11. ^ California v. Cabazon Band, 480 U.S. 202 (1987).
  12. ^ "Morongo Casino Resort Spa." 500 Nations. (retrieved 18 May 2010)
  13. ^ James, Ian (July 12, 2014). "Nestle, Arrowhead tapping water from Morongo reservation". Desert Sun. Retrieved 2015-06-15. 
  14. ^ Limu Project
  15. ^ Saint Kateri Tekakwitha Catholic Community: St. Mary's Mission
  16. ^ Moravian Church: Western District. U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Morongo Moravian Church: 33°57′21″N 116°49′41″W / 33.955848°N 116.828075°W / 33.955848; -116.828075


  • Eargle, Jr., Dolan H. California Indian Country: The Land and the People. San Francisco: Tree Company Press, 1992. ISBN 0-937401-20-X.
  • Hinton, Leanne. Flutes of Fire: Essays on California Indian Languages. Berkeley: Heyday Books, 1994. ISBN 0-930588-62-2
  • Pritzker, Barry M. A Native American Encyclopedia: History, Culture, and Peoples. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. ISBN 978-0-19-513877-1.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 33°57′10″N 116°48′28″W / 33.95278°N 116.80778°W / 33.95278; -116.80778

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morongo_Band_of_Mission_Indians — Please support Wikipedia.
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426 news items


Mon, 14 Sep 2015 15:41:15 -0700

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians has become the first tribe to join the Western Riverside Council of Governments as a voting member, a designation that gives the Cabazon area tribe a voice on regional transportation and environmental issues.
Native Times
Wed, 30 Sep 2015 20:00:00 -0700

“Twenty-five years is quite a milestone to celebrate, and it's a chance to recognize all the years of hard work that have allowed our powwow to grow and thrive,” said Tribal Chairman Robert Martin of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. “For some, the ...


Wed, 23 Sep 2015 11:22:26 -0700

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians brings its Thunder and Lightning Powwow back for another year Friday, Sept. 25, through Sunday, Sept. 27. The yearly event includes colorful regalia, dancing, traditional food, singing and more. Morongo expects more ...


Mon, 21 Sep 2015 15:11:39 -0700

For those who missed it, or didn't get enough, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians will host another pow wow beginning Friday, Sept. 25. This year's Soboba eventattracted 325 dancers, as well as several drum groups, to compete. Bird singers and dancers ...

Yucaipa/Calimesa News Mirror

Yucaipa/Calimesa News Mirror
Fri, 02 Oct 2015 18:07:30 -0700

3, at the Yucaipa Chamber of Commerce's Good Morning Yucaipa Business Breakfast on Thursday, Sept. 3, at The Pavilion at the Yucaipa Valley Golf Club. The morning speakers included John Covington from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and Joe ...
Ukiah Daily Journal
Sat, 01 Aug 2015 17:56:15 -0700

A Native American student from Covelo, who is attending UC Davis, has received a $10,000 scholarship from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians as part of the tribe's annual scholarship program. The 11th annual Rodney T. Mathews Jr. Scholarship is ...

Pasadena Independent

Pasadena Independent
Tue, 22 Sep 2015 16:37:30 -0700

... world-class entertainment offerings. One of the largest tribal gaming facilities in the country, Morongo Casino Resort & Spa is owned and operated by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. For more information please visit: www.morongocasinoresort.com.
Valley News
Wed, 23 Sep 2015 17:14:29 -0700

In another action the council, rather reluctantly, voted to approve a resolution amending the bylaws of the Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG) to allow the Morongo Band of Mission Indians a voting seat on the board. Murrieta is a voting ...

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