It has been a long time coming but the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians finally had the opportunity to thank everyone who has patiently supported its endeavors to secure the Horseshoe Property with the intention of building a replacement casino and resort.
February 28's invitation-only groundbreaking ceremony brought together Soboba tribal members, administrators, city and corporate officials and hundreds of guests to witness this milestone in the history of the tribe.
Tribal Administrator Michael Castello welcomed the crowd and introduced Steven Estrada, Chairman of the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians to provide a prayer in his native language. Translation for part of it was: "it is a good day to bring blessings upon this land and give the Soboba people strength as they proceed."
Estrada was then joined by Joe Ontiveros, director of Soboba's Cultural Resources Department, and other bird singers to share songs with the crowd that gathered at the future site of the complex near Lake Park Drive and Soboba Road in San Jacinto.
Tribal Council Chairman Scott Cozart spoke about the great mentors that helped get the tribe to this day, starting with bingo halls that he helped vote for back in the day. Elders such as Marian Chacon and Benny Helms were cited as always supporting what was best for all tribal members
He said the 1987 Cabazon Decision allowed for Vegas-style gaming to be conducted on the reservation and the rest is history.
"How far we have come since then is amazing," Cozart said.
Tribal Council Vice Chair Isaiah Vivanco, treasurer Kelli Hurtado and Sergeant at Arms Rose Salgado were also at the celebration to recognize all the tribal elders and members.
"This is for you and our future," Vivanco said.
He introduced dignitaries including members of the Soboba Foundation, tribal council members from other Southern California tribes, school board members, Hemet and San Jacinto unified school district representatives, local law enforcement and Hemet and San Jacinto city council members.