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Conference organizers looking to house Indian veterans

CABAZON – The National American Indian Veterans organization is concerned that veterans traveling to their conference March 19 will lack lodging and are hoping sponsors will come through with donations.

Don Loudner, Sioux, the national commander of the organization said a sponsorship drive was implemented this year after he found veterans sleeping in their cars at last year’s conference.

“We are trying to seek assistance to get vets to come to the conference.”

Jessie Molina, Yaqui, NAIV’s pacific commander of the organization, said he expects at least 300 veterans from across the country to attend the two day conference at the Morongo Casino. But he described the response from the tribes petitioned for donations as “mediocre.”

“I am looking for sponsors that will say ‘I want five rooms for veterans,’” he said.

An initial contribution from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians of $100,000 has secured the venue, meals and some transportation, but the non-profit organization still finds itself short on funds to pay for rooms, and pledges from tribes at last month’s California Nations Indian Gaming Association conference in Palm Springs, Calif., had not yet materialized.

For more information call Molina at (559) 779-8200 or Leila Strickland at (225) 686-7627.