Welcome to Morongo

Set at the foot of the beautiful San Gorgonio and San Jacinto Mountains, the Morongo Indian Reservation spans more than 35,000 acres and overlooks the vistas of the Banning Pass. Resilient and resourceful, the Morongo tribe has had to overcome many adversities.

Latest News

Morongo Awards $20,000 in Scholarships to Two Native American Students

The Annual Rodney T. Mathews Jr. Scholarship has awarded more than $525,000 to Native American students, the most underrepresented group in higher education.

MORONGO INDIAN RESERVATION – Two Native American students from California have each received a $10,000 scholarship from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians near Palm Springs as part of the 16th Annual Rodney T. Mathews Jr. Scholarship Program.

Since its launch, Morongo’s program has awarded more than $525,000 to 53 Native American students attending universities across the nation. The scholarship program is open to enrolled members of any of the more than 100 federally-recognized tribes in California.

“Morongo is proud to offer the Rodney T. Matthews Jr. Scholarship to help reverse the trends that have left Native Americans as the most underrepresented group in colleges and universities,” Morongo Tribal Chairman Charles Martin said. “We look forward to this annual opportunity to support outstanding Native American students as they pursue a higher education to improve themselves and the future of their tribal communities.”

The 2021 recipients are:

  • Britney Vargas of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel is pursuing a B.A. in Elementary Education at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo.  The recent graduate of Julian High School in San Diego County served as Native American Club Secretary, was a three-sport athlete and class secretary. Ms. Vargas also holds the title of Miss Julian 2020-2021 and was the previous Teen Miss Julian. She has logged over 650 in volunteer community hours during high school. Her goal is to develop a curriculum that teaches Native American culture to elementary school students in hopes of preserving Native American heritage for future generations.

“I think it’s absolutely amazing that the Morongo Band of Mission Indians does this for kids like me and other kids who struggle financially,” Vargas said. “I am just so grateful that I even had the opportunity to apply for the scholarship. This will help me pay for my books, meal plan and a dorm room, and allow me to focus on my studies.”

  • Sasheen Shailee Colegrove Raymond of the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribes is working towards her PhD. in Global Leadership and Change at Pepperdine University. She currently works at Humboldt State University’s Social Work Department where she assists rural and indigenous communities. She also helps Native American students navigate the educational system and cultivates relationships with local tribal agencies to increase internship placements. Through her studies, she plans to continue to conduct research and data collection to assist Tribal communities and inform policy decisions.

“I am extremely grateful for this opportunity and that Morongo continues to support the Native community and Indian country because ultimately I feel it’s an important piece for all of us to be able to contribute back to our communities,” Raymond said. “This scholarship lifts such a huge burden off my shoulders, and I am truly thankful from the bottom of my heart.”

American Indians and Alaskan Natives comprise less than 1% of the nation’s college students, the lowest college enrollment rate of any ethnic group, according to the U.S. Department of Education. Similarly, only 15% of American Indians hold bachelor’s degrees, fewer than any ethnic group in the U.S., according to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

The scholarship program honors the late Rodney T. Mathews Jr., a Morongo tribal member and Hastings Law School graduate who passed away in 2004 after serving as a judge pro tem for more than a decade.

Scholarship applicants are considered based on their academic success and community service.  Candidates must be full-time students at an accredited college or university; complete 60 hours with a designated California Indian agency; and be actively involved in the Native American community.

Morongo Travel Center Tribal Minor NSR Permit Application # 2021-001-MNSR

Announcement of Draft Permit and Request for Public Comment on Draft Clean Air Act Minor NSR Permit in Indian Country

Notice in Spanish

Notice in English

Proposed Action: The United States Environmental Protection Agency, Region 9 (EPA) provides notice of and requests public comment on the EPA’s proposed action relating to the draft minor New Source Review (NSR) permit for the Morongo Travel Center (“Source”). The Source will be located at 48540 Morongo Trail, Cabazon, California 92230, within the Morongo Indian Reservation. The EPA is proposing to issue this minor NSR permit to the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, 12700 Pumarra Road, Banning, California, 92220. The contact for the Source is Dana Morey, Environmental Manager, (951) 755-5198.

This draft permit, if finalized, will authorize the construction and operation of a gasoline dispensing facility (GDF), consistent with the minor NSR regulations for Indian country (40 CFR 49.151-161). The gasoline dispensing facility will dispense both diesel and octane gasoline. It will include 22 fuel dispensers, six underground storage tanks, and a convenience store. This project will increase emissions of air pollutants as follows: 12.27 tons per year (tpy) of volatile organic compounds (VOC). More information on the emission limitations associated with this draft permit can be found in Section 5 of the technical support document for this action.

Request for Public Comment: All written comments or requests for a public hearing must be received or postmarked by September 7, 2021. Comments may be submitted via the following methods:

Online:  www.regulations.gov, Docket ID: EPA-R09-OAR-2021-0043

E-mail:  [email protected]

Other:   By contacting Catherine Valladolid for other submission methods. See the Contact Information section below.

Any person may submit written comments on the draft permit and may request a public hearing during the public comment period. These comments must raise any reasonably ascertainable issue with supporting arguments by the close of the public comment period (including any public hearing). Please address comments with the subject “Comments on Draft Minor NSR Permit for Morongo Travel Center.”

 All comments that are received via email or through www.regulations.gov will be included in the public docket without change and will be available to the public, including any personal information provided. Comments submitted to the EPA through a non-electronic delivery method will also be included in the public docket without change and will be available to the public, including any personal information provided, unless the comment includes Confidential Business Information (CBI) or other information the disclosure of which is restricted by statute. Information that is considered to be CBI or otherwise protected should be clearly identified as such and should be submitted only through a non-electronic delivery method; such information should not be submitted through www.regulations.gov or e-mail. If a commenter sends e-mail directly to the EPA, the e-mail address will be automatically captured and included as part of the public comment. Please note that an e-mail or postal address must be provided with comments if the commenter wishes to receive direct notification of the EPA’s final decision regarding the draft permit following the public comment period. For information about CBI or multimedia submissions and general guidance on making effective comments, please visit www.epa.gov/dockets/commenting-epa-dockets.

Public Hearing: A public hearing has not been scheduled for the draft permit action. However, anyone may request a public hearing. Any request for a public hearing must be made in writing and state the nature of the issues proposed to be raised at the hearing. The EPA will hold a hearing whenever there is, on the basis of requests, a significant degree of public interest in a draft minor NSR permit. The EPA may also hold a public hearing at its discretion, whenever, for instance, such a hearing might clarify one or more issues involved in the minor NSR permit decision. The EPA will provide notice at least 30 days in advance of the date and time of any scheduled public hearing. The 30-day public comment period will be extended to the close of any public hearing on the Morongo Travel Center.

Final Action: Before taking final action on the draft permit, the EPA will consider all written comments submitted during the public comment period. The EPA will send notice of our final permit decision to each person who submitted comments and contact information during the public comment period or requested notice of the final permit decision. The EPA will summarize the contents of all substantive comments and provide written responses in a document accompanying the EPA’s final permit decision. The EPA’s final permit decision will become effective 30 days after the service of notice of the decision unless:

1.    A later effective date is specified in the permit;

2.    The decision is appealed to the EPA’s Environmental Appeals Board pursuant to 40 CFR 49.159(d); or

3.    There are no comments requesting a change to the draft permit decision, in which case the final decision shall become effective immediately upon issuance.

Appeals to the EAB: In accordance with 40 CFR 49.159, within 30 days after a final permit decision has been issued, any person who filed comments on the draft permit or participated in the public hearing may petition the EAB to review any condition of the permit decision. The 30-day period within which a person may request review under this section begins when the Region has fulfilled the notice requirements for the final permit decision. A petition to the EAB is, under section 307(b) of the Act, a prerequisite to seeking judicial review of the final agency action. For purposes of judicial review, final agency action occurs when the EPA denies or issues a final permit and agency review procedures are exhausted.

Contact Information: If you have questions, or if you wish to obtain further information, please contact Catherine Valladolid at (415) 947-4103 or via email at [email protected]. If you would like to be added to our mailing list to receive future information about this draft permit decision or other permit decisions issued by EPA Region 9, please contact the EPA at [email protected].

 ***Please bring the foregoing notice to the attention of all persons who would be interested in this matter.***

Morongo tribe partners with Southern California Edison on upgrade to transmission lines

Tuesday, July 20, 2021
By Amanda Ulrich

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians plans to use existing Southern California Edison power lines, a section of which cross its reservation in Banning, to help connect solar, wind and battery resources to the regional power grid.

Morongo partnered with the utility company to develop and finance part of an upgrade to the transmission lines, the tribe reported in a press release Monday.

Morongo Transmission LLC, a partnership between the tribe as majority owner and a New York-registered investment company called Coachella Partners LLC, will operate the project. SCE was able to gain new rights-of-way across the Banning reservation, according to the tribe, while Morongo Transmission LLC was permitted to lease a percentage of the project’s transfer capability.

In return for financing a portion of the project alongside SCE, the tribe will “share in the proceeds” of the transmission lines, Morongo spokesperson Phil Southard said.

Morongo said in the release that it is the first Native American tribe in the country to be approved as a participating transmission owner, or an entity that owns or operates power lines.

“Morongo is honored to be making history once again as the first tribe in the nation to be a participating transmission owner,” said Charles Martin, the tribe’s chairman.

“Our tribe has a deep connection to the environment, and the agreement by Morongo Transmission to lease capacity on Southern California Edison’s newly upgraded system will further that legacy by delivering green energy resources to the Southern California power grid.”

Morongo’s involvement is part of a broader effort from SCE to deliver more renewable power to the Southern California region.

The partnership falls under Southern California Edison’s West of Devers Upgrade, a project several years in the making that replaced nearly 50 miles of aging power lines between a substation near Palm Springs and San Bernardino.

The project tripled the system’s capacity to transmit power generated by renewable resources to major population centers in Southern California, according to the tribe. Those specific renewable energy projects, like solar farms, are located in more eastern parts of Riverside County, Imperial County and outside the state. Southard added that none of the renewable energy sources are located on the Morongo reservation.

Southard did not have specific figures on Monday for the project’s financial impact on the tribe.

In February, the Board of Governors for the California Independent System Operator approved Morongo Transmission’s application to join the nonprofit, a first for a federally recognized tribe. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission then finalized all necessary approvals to allow operations by Morongo Transmission earlier this month.

Elliot Mainzer, CAISO’s board president and CEO, praised Morongo and SCE in February “for their creativity and flexibility in developing an innovative ownership structure that enables this critical transmission project to proceed,” the press release said.

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Upcoming Events

Oct 08

9th Annual Morongo Open Ranch Rodeo

Rodeo Grounds : 11555 Cottonwood Rd., Morongo Indian Reservation, Banning, CA