Members of the Chinese State Ethnic Affairs Commission from the People’s Republic of China met Thursday with leaders of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians to learn more about each other’s cultures and discuss opportunities for promoting economic development and job creation.
Lijun Bao, who serves as the commission’s deputy director, and 15 other members of the delegation learned about tribal history and experienced a performance of traditional bird singing before touring the Morongo Indian Reservation and the Morongo Casino, Resort & Spa.
Tribal Chairman Robert Martin called Thursday’s discussions enlightening and promising, and said he looked forward to exploring future opportunities between the tribe and the commission that would generate new jobs and economic development.
“As a leading tourist destination and one of our region’s largest employers, Morongo is committed to improving the local economy by creating new economic opportunities,” Martin said. “Today was a fascinating chance to learn about another culture and to share information about our own traditions, and we look forward to future exchanges with the commission.”
A recognized leader in tourism and gaming, the Morongo Band of Mission Indians maintains a diverse business portfolio that includes health care, agriculture and manufacturing facilities.
During the tour, Martin presented the delegation with blankets emblazoned with the Morongo logo and traditional deerskin pouches filled with white sage and tobacco. The Chinese delegation presented tribal leaders with artwork and other traditional items.
The State Ethnic Affairs Commission is one of China's oldest commissions. It advises the Chinese Communist Party's Central Committee and the State Council on work related to China's 55 identified ethnic minority groups. The Commission implements national ethnic policy to promote economics, politics, education, and culture, and is responsible for planning and economic development policies in China's autonomous regions.
Michael Contreras Jr., the Cultural Heritage Program Coordinator for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians, demonstrates traditional food preparation methods for members of the Chinese State Ethnic Affairs Commission from the People’s Republic of China during a meeting and tour on Thursday.
Morongo Tribal Chairman Robert Martin, (right) presents a handmade deerskin pouch filled with sage and tobacco to Deputy Director Heping Bai of the Chinese State Ethnic Affairs Commission Thursday as Morongo Tribal Council Members (left to right) Tom Linton, Charles Martin and Brian Lugo watch.