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Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians, California

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Following a Thanksgiving promise, the tribe has given more than 800 pairs of shoes to lower income families. The shoes were distributed at a local elementary school last month. Earlier in the spring every family in two low-income housing projects in Mecca registered their shoe sizes with housing managers. The tribe bought the shoes from Payless Shoes, which gave a discount and underwrote shipping costs. Last Thanksgiving the tribe distributed hundreds of free meals to people from the same housing project. The families are mainly lower income, farm-working families, many recent immigrants from Mexico. At the time, the tribe made two promises to the community. The first was to establish an emergency housing project for the families so no one would lose their homes during the holiday season, the second was to distribute the shoes. Morongo credits tribal gaming with bringing the band to a position where they could contribute to others. Unemployment at Morongo was once among the highest in California. "We appreciate the support that has been provided to us as we've worked to improve conditions on our reservation. We are proud to be in a position now where we can help other people," said Morongo Councilwoman Leatrice Briones.

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