Local Indian tribe starts restoration project

Bringing their history back-to-life

Torres Martinez Reservation finally begins restoration

The Torres Martinez Tribe in Thermal is bringing it's history back to life by renovating three of it's oldest buildings.

An old school house, agency building and residence are the oldest known agency dwellings in California.
It's been a vision of tribal members for years to have them restored. Getting funding has been difficult.
For many years, tribal leaders tried to get money from the state and federal government.
It's estimated it will cost $500,000 to renovate all three buildings.
The tribe was able to finally get some money for the project from various grants from area gaming tribes like the San Manuel Band who gave a quarter of a million dollars, according to Mary Belardo, Chair of the Restoration Committee.
Other dollars have come from individuals, businesses, corporations and fundraisers.
Construction has begun on the old school house.
Original wood and hardware will be used to make it look and feel authentic.
Mirelez says, "the old school house is the heart of the tribe, when we were getting education in 1907 because this is where we congregated this is where we were."
The main goal of the restoration project is to preserve the Torres Martinez history.
They are hoping to make the old school house like a museum where there will be artifacts, pictures and old furniture to depict what it was like in the 1900's.
Mirelez says, "he's thrilled that construction on the school house is finally coming to a point where he can see what his family saw in the past."
He says, "he can finally see through their eyes when they came here and that's a great feeling."
The tribe is still trying to raise money to complete the project.
There will be a golf tournament at Eagle Falls Golf Course on September 15.
For more information contact, Gil McQuillen. gmcquillen@fantasysprings.net

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