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'The Gun That Won the West': Morongo Tribe Bids for Purchase of Colt Guns

According to Michael Fisher, tribal spokesman, Morongo plans to submit a bid (for an unspecified amount) to purchase Colt Defense LLC.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Banning, Calif., is taking a shot at the gun business.

According to Michael Fisher, the tribe’s spokesman, Morongo plans to submit a bid (for an unspecified amount) to purchase Colt Defense LLC, a leading manufacturer of firearms famous for the pistol dubbed, “The gun that won the West.” The 179-year-old company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in June, after missing a $10.9 million interest payment in mid-May, according to CNN Money.

Fisher said the acquisition of Colt would round out its business portfolio nicely, which has holdings ranging from agriculture to healthcare to retail. But also, the purchase would be meaningful from a historical perspective. Through the years, and many wars that this country has engaged in, Native Americans have stepped up proudly to serve, he said.

“More than 10 percent of the Native American population saw active service in World War II. That history is important to Morongo,” Fisher said, and explained that the tribe created a memorial at its administration center for tribal veterans. “Morongo would like to see the Colt brand continue, and we’d like America’s military to continue to be supplied by an American company.”

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The tribe also believes an investment in Colt would better position them to secure federal defense contracts with the military. “Morongo sees defense contracting as the significant business opportunity. For more than 175 years, Colt has been a recognized international leader in the design and manufacturing of firearms for the U.S. military and law enforcement,” Fisher said.

The acquisition of Colt would likely create new jobs for Morongo tribal members, although there are currently no plans to move the manufacturing headquarters from West Hartford, Conn., should the tribe win the bid for the company. However, Fisher emphasizes that any decision to move forward with the purchase of the gun manufacturer will only happen with the approval of tribal membership.

Lynn Armitage is a contributing business writer to Indian Country Today Media Network, and an enrolled member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin.