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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


November 30, 2002 - Issue 75


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Morongo Tribe Donates Turkeys for More Than 10,000 Thanksgiving Meals for Families in Need

by Morongo Tribe of Mission Indians
credits: Photos by Doug Park

BANNING, Calif., Morongo Indian Reservation, Nov. 25 /PRNewswire/ -- Tribal leaders from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians' say it is their way of continuing a tradition that started 380 years ago on the coast of Massachusetts. This week, in the largest turkey donation in its history, the Morongo tribe is providing more than 2,200 turkeys to help provide more than 10,000 Thanksgiving meals for Riverside County families in need.

The tribe began the tradition in 1985, distributing meals and turkeys as far north as San Francisco and as far south as Thermal, California.

According to Morongo tribal council member Anne Hutton, as a part of the tribe's Thanksgiving outreach, it will both deliver turkeys and set up a special turkey pick-up center for designated charities on the Morongo Indian reservation. Deliveries to charities throughout Palm Springs, Riverside, San Bernardino and Los Angeles took place throughout the past week.

One of the groups benefiting from Morongo's outreach this year is the Riverside County Fire Department's Chaplain Corps. Jim Cook, who is battalion chief for the Moreno Valley Fire Division said, "The tribe told us they wanted to continue to honor the spirit of the New York City firefighters by helping to support our chaplain corps' Thanksgiving assistance to low-income families."

The chaplain corps includes chaplains from Cathedral of the Valley in Cathedral City, Fountain of Life Church in Banning, River of Life Church in Beaumont, San Gorgonio Catholic Church, New Covenant Bible Ministry in Moreno Valley, Calvary Chapel in Temecula, Baptist Church Hemet, Pass Fellowship Ministry, Freedom Community Christian Church Moreno Valley, House of Praise in Murrietta, Norco First Assembly, the Family Praise Fellowship in Riverside and Eagle Wing Church in Perris.

Other groups that will receive turkeys from Morongo include Alternatives To Domestic Violence, the American Legion, Cabazon Elementary School, Carol's Kitchen, the Morongo Faith Chapel's Red Barn Ministry, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the Salvation Army of Riverside.

"We are especially happy to be helping the American Legion and the Veterans of Foreign Wars posts as this is not a time when we should forget those who have served our country," said Hutton. "Both these organizations serve needy veterans and senior veterans who have no other access to a Thanksgiving meal. Our turkeys will be used for both outreach baskets and hot meal service."

"More than three centuries ago, the Wampanoag Indians helped the Pilgrims to survive and at harvest, brought food to share with the early settlers for a thanksgiving," said Hutton. "We are honoring the spirit of that original Thanksgiving with this donation. The Morongo Indians know and understand what difficult times are all about. Like many of the families we are trying to help, our struggles are far from over. But this holiday is a good place to start building new friendships."

Hutton also noted that November is national Native American Heritage Month.

"The Morongo tribe's donation will help in two areas: we will use their turkeys for both deliveries to low-income and needy families and also to provide thousands of warm, healthy Thanksgiving meals this season," said Riverside City Mission director Michael Fisbeck.

Casino Morongo is also distributing additional turkeys to New Life Praise Chapel, San Gorgonio Child Care, Morongo Head Start Pre-School, St. Vincent Catholic Church, Set Free Christian Fellowship, Eagle's Haven Church, San Gorgonio Child Care, Cabazon Fellowship, Joseph's Storehouse and Fellowship in the Pass.

"Because of tribal gaming, we are now self-sufficient and we understand the pride that comes with being able to support yourself. As things have become better on our reservation, we believe it is important to share," said Hutton. "From Palm Springs to Banning and Beaumont to Moreno Valley, Riverside, Yucaipa and Hemet, all of these communities have been supportive to our tribe. We thought this would be one way to say thanks. We hope that the individuals and families who receive our special Thanksgiving dinners will accept our wishes and prayers for peace and goodwill."

The Morongo tribe is the largest private sector employer in the Banning-Beaumont region and a major contributor to the Coachella Valley economy.

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