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Tribal Chairman Martin Honored by Banning Chamber of Commerce

Dozens of federal, state and local leaders gathered as the Banning Chamber of Commerce presented its Excellence in Leadership Award to Tribal Chairman Robert Martin of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians during a dinner Thursday at the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa.

Chairman Martin, a lifelong resident of the San Gorgonio Pass who has helped guide the tribe in its journey toward self-reliance for more than a quarter-century, was praised during Thursday’s event by U.S. Congresswoman Mary Bono Mack, Congressman Joe Baca, California state Senator Bill Emmerson, state Assembly members Brian Nestande and Paul Cook, Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley and Banning Mayor Don Robinson.

“For 25 years, Chairman Robert Martin has been a proven leader in economic development, job creation and philanthropy in the San Gorgonio Pass,” said Art Welch, president of the Banning Chamber of Commerce. “Under Chairman Martin’s steady leadership, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians has strengthened our local economy, our local businesses and our community. We are delighted to be recognizing Chairman Martin with our Excellence in Leadership Award.”

Martin said he was humbled by the Chamber honor, and the tributes from other elected leaders from all levels of government.
“I deeply appreciate this wonderful honor from the Banning Chamber of Commerce,” Martin said. “As Chairman of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, I take great pride in our tribe’s partnerships with the Banning Chamber of Commerce, the City of Banning and all of the elected leaders of our region as we all work together to create new opportunities for the residents and businesses of the San Gorgonio Pass.”
Senator Emmerson expressed his thanks to Martin for his leadership in the region.
“Chairman Martin has been a pillar of our region for decades,” said Senator Emmerson. “His dedication to our community shows through in every venture he and the Morongo Band of Mission Indians undertake, from charitable giving to supporting the growth of local businesses. While Chairman Martin never seeks such honors, there’s no one who deserves it more.”
Martin was serving as the tribal chairman 25 years ago this year when Morongo and the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians secured the landmark 1987 U.S. Supreme Court decision that confirmed the sovereignty of Indian tribes and the rights of tribes to establish gaming operations. That watershed decision literally transformed the lives of tens of thousands of Native Americans across the nation in the journey of self-determination.
Martin oversaw the development of the original Casino Morongo and, years later, the $250 million Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa.
Under Martin’s steady leadership, Morongo has diversified its business portfolio with new ventures in finance, health care and agriculture, and expanded its local holdings to include the 36-hole championship Morongo Golf Club at Tukwet Canyon.
The Morongo Band of Mission Indians has led the region in economic development, generating thousands of new local jobs and nearly $3 billion in annual economic activity in a wide variety of industries.
Throughout the years, Martin also strived to make sure Morongo stayed true to its values and preserved the tribe’s long tradition of giving. In that spirit, Morongo contributes more than $1 million annually to support communities and non-profit organizations across the San Gorgonio Pass and the region, from Pass area food kitchens to local youth athletics and local schools.