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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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187 videos foundNext > 

Morongo Band of Mission Indians Gives Back

Centennial Interview with Mary Ann Andreas, Vice Chairman, Morongo Band of Mission Indians

California Tribal Culture Exchange Video Contest Entry- Morongo

Walter Holmes, an Elder of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians passes down some traditional Bird Songs to the youth. Video submitted by Robert Seneff.

Native American Pow-Wow at Morongo Casino, Palm Springs

The annual Thunder and Lightning Pow-Wow at Morongo Casino. "The Morongo Band of Mission Indians is preparing to welcome more than 20000 visitors to its ...

Singing to Save a Language

The nearly extinct Cahuilla language of tribes native to Southern California is being revived by elders who teach the tradition of birdsinging to students at a ...

FNX NOW: Morongo Turkey Distribution (2014)

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians gives away 10000 turkeys to regional charities and tribes. Producer/Editor: Terria Smith Series Producer: Terria ...

Charles Martin on California Indian Education

Charles Martin, Councilmember, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, discusses some statistics that must change for California Indian education and calls on all ...

Going Home

Short film on the repatriation of a herd of buffalo from Catalina Island, California back to the mainland. From the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and Catalina ...

Hadley Fruit Orchard - Health Food Store

Hadley Fruit Orchards was founded by Paul and Peggy Hadley in 1931 in Banning, California. Their neighbors were the Morongo Band of Mission Indians.

Thousands of turkeys given away by Morongo tribe

187 videos foundNext > 

471 news items

San Francisco Bay View

San Francisco Bay View
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 21:15:00 -0800

by Michael Fisher, Morongo Band of Mission Indians. San Francisco – Five San Francisco groups that help provide Thanksgiving dinners to the homeless and less fortunate received more than 900 free turkeys this week from the Morongo Band of Mission ...

Indian Country Today Media Network

Indian Country Today Media Network
Thu, 26 Nov 2015 08:07:30 -0800

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians knows the answer. The tribal nation has given away more 100,000 Thanksgiving turkeys across Southern California over the past three decades, providing an astonishing 1.5 million-plus holiday meals to families, ...
Native Times
Tue, 24 Nov 2015 10:22:30 -0800

Morongo Band of Mission Indians has given more than 100,000 Thanksgiving turkeys over the past three decades to aid families, veterans and seniors in need. MORONGO INDIAN RESERVATION – The Morongo Band of Mission Indians celebrated the 30th ...


Tue, 17 Nov 2015 16:00:00 -0800

That type of kindness helped Palacios make it through some tough years, she says, which is why she has spent 30 years volunteering with the Morongo Band of Mission Indians' Thanksgiving Outreach Program. The program hands out thousands of turkeys to ...

The Record Gazette

The Record Gazette
Fri, 20 Nov 2015 10:22:30 -0800

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians celebrated the 30th anniversary of its annual Thanksgiving Outreach program by distributing 13,000 free turkeys this week to nonprofit groups, churches and charities that will use the birds to provide nearly 200,000 ...
PR Newswire (press release)
Mon, 23 Nov 2015 05:07:30 -0800

CABAZON, Calif., Nov. 23, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Osceola Consulting CEO and founder Kevin Narcomey was joined today by California State Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (Coachella, 56th AD) and Morongo Band of Mission Indians Tribal Chairman ...

The Inland Empire Community

The Inland Empire Community
Wed, 25 Nov 2015 11:30:00 -0800

Club staff have also been passing out turkeys to parents this week that were donated by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians. Other Club celebrations this week included a meal, contests and games at the Riverside site. ~ Source: Boys and Girls Clubs of ...


Mon, 23 Nov 2015 12:15:00 -0800

Some of the earliest arrivals to the San Gorgonio Pass in the early 1980s were allowed to live on the Morongo Band of Mission Indians Reservation. The Hmong name can be translated into “people” or “a free people.” Moua said the nonprofit does not have ...

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