ISSUES/OPPORTUNITIES: From our leadership on issues impacting Indian Country to advancing our business enterprises and providing services to our tribal members, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians expects 2022 to be an extremely busy year full of opportunity and promise.
Morongo continues to be one of the leading employers in Riverside County, CA, providing more than 2,500 local jobs and nearly $3 billion in regional economic activity annually through our business ventures.
Last year, the Morongo Casino Resort & Spa became the first tribal casino in the country to offer cashless wagering. We also welcomed our newest restaurant, Wahlburgers, making Morongo the only tribal casino in the nation to host the popular dining concept founded by brothers Mark, Donnie, and Paul Wahlberg.
LESSONS: Our tribe made progress on several critical issues in 2021, including our work alongside the Cherokee Nation, Oneida Nation and the Quinault Indian Nation to defend the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) in the federal courts against misguided attacks aimed at undermining tribal sovereignty.
In 2021, Morongo became the first tribe in the nation to be approved as a participating energy transmission owner to help connect sustainable solar, wind and battery resources to the regional power grid. From our support of the California Indian Nations College to our annual college scholarship program for Native youth statewide, we provided over $1 million in community support, culminating with our 35th annual Thanksgiving Outreach Program where we gave away 13,500 free turkeys to help families, seniors and veterans in need across Southern California. Going into 2022, Morongo is already building on the momentum of last year.
FUTURE: In January, we welcomed a new state-of-the-art Morongo Travel Center featuring 32 gas pumps, Tesla superchargers, high-speed diesel truck pumps, slot machines and a convenience store. In the coming weeks, celebrity chef and international restaurateur Fabio Viviani will bring his vision for delicious dining to Morongo with the opening of The Marketplace, a sprawling food hall featuring seven international gourmet eateries.
Casino Morongo, our second gaming venue, also will soon be unveiling an exciting new expansion that includes a beautiful new poker room and bingo hall.
Morongo will continue to defend ICWA, and to protect tribal sovereignty. We also will continue to work with our partners in federal, state and local governments to address issues of mutual concern, such as energy, healthcare, the environment, and transportation, and to nurture new economic opportunities and job creation in our region.
We remain optimistic for the future and are excited about the possibilities that await as we move forward.