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Four Winds Coalition to address range of common issues

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - Tribal chairs from the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians, Cabazon Band of Mission Indians, Twenty-Nine Palms Band of Mission Indians, and Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians announced April 15 the formation of the Four Winds Coalition, a first-ever tribal organization focused solely on working closely with local governments of the eastern Coachella Valley and the county of Riverside on a wide range of common issues.

The coalition plans to address a number of key issues, including establishing a process by which to work proactively with local governments and Riverside County to create an entertainment zone to draw more residents and visitors to the tribes' respective gaming operations.

Through a concerted joint marketing and promotions campaign, the coalition believes it can increase tourist traffic while better retaining the local consumer population. This effort will, in turn, increase activity for local businesses surrounding the tribal casinos, increasing employment opportunities and overall economic activity in the rapidly growing East Coachella Valley.

''The coalition is a fresh, new wind in the valley,'' stated Torres Martinez Chairman Raymond Torres, who was elected to a one-year term as the coalition's inaugural chairman.

''We are creating change by doing it individually and together in a way that is right and just to the people we are serving. We want to be responsible neighbors.''

The coalition also plans to work closely with the Salton Sea Project, as well as on issues ranging from water rights to expanding economic development opportunities in the field of energy. All projects will respect tribal sovereign rights and protect cultural sites.

Cabazon Chairman John James added: ''The four tribes represent the four winds. The benefit of the four tribes working together is that it provides a step for a stronger unified tribal voice and provides an opportunity for broader community outreach. This is a major step to a brighter future for our region.''

''We're excited to work with coalition tribes and local governments on creating a better future for the East Coachella Valley,'' Twenty-Nine Palms Chairman Darrell Mike said.

''With leaders like Chairman Torres, Chairman James and Chairperson [MaryAnn] Green, the potential for this coalition is tremendous.''

''The coalition was formed to create unity and provide a positive working forum for all East Coachella Valley governments,'' said Green, chairman of the Augustine Band of Mission Indians.

''We have come together because of unique circumstances that have set the stage for mutual opportunities.''