Diana Saenger
San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer (left) and Viejas Tribal Chairman Robert Welch, Jr. (right) signing beam of new luxury hotel at the resort.

Viejas Tribe Show How to Succeed in Business, and in Tribal Benefits

Diana Saenger

The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians has maintained their culture as well as become successful business entrepreneurs. Located in Alpine, California, Viejas Casino and Resort includes a 128-room hotel with pool and lounge area, the Viejas Outlet Center with a show court, and an RV Park.

A new Tribal Council took office January 1, 2015 with Chairman Robert J. Welch Jr., presiding over a council that includes Vice–Chairman Victor E. Woods, Secretary Rene Curo, Treasurer Samuel Q. Brown and councilmembers Adrian M. Brown, Gabriel T. TeSam Jr., and Kevin M. Carrizosa.

On March 20, 2015, the new council started their service with the Topping Off ceremony of Viejas’ five-story second luxury hotel project under construction and opening in November. The new project includes 104 elegantly appointed rooms, five luxury suites, a state-of-the-art ballroom and meeting facilities. Underway is also an expansion of the casino floor with more than 500 new slot machines.

Chairman Welch is a Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians tribal member and shares family members with the Barona Band of Mission Indians in Lakeside, California including his brother, Vice-Chairman Raymond Welch.

“My father came from the Barona Band and my mother from Viejas,” Chairman Welch said. “The Viejas Band originated from the Capitan Grande Band located along the San Diego River – now known as El Capitan Reservoir.”

Growing up on tribal land with many ancestors and tribal members has given Welch keen insight into his job as leader of the Tribal Council. His mother, Carmen “Daisy” Welch, was Tribal Chairwoman for 12 years during the 1970s and ’80s and credited with Viejas’s success in business, politics and self-governance.

Chairman Welch previously served as Vice-Chairman for several years. He looks forward to continuing to maintain the successes the Viejas Band has accomplished and move forward. The Viejas Band has been generous givers to the San Diego community supporting many non-profit organizations. At the recent Topping Off ceremony, San Diego Mayor Kevin L. Faulconer acknowledged Viejas for their community outreach.

“I want to thank Viejas for the work you do with incredible organizations that benefit from your generosity; the USO, Salvation Army, San Diego Food Bank, Boys and Girls Club of Greater San Diego, and Make-a-Wish Foundation just to name a few. You are making a difference in the lives of San Diegans across the region and across the county,” Faulconer said.

Chairman Welch’s focus moving forward includes concentrating on their main business – the casino.

“In my six years as vice-chairman I learned a lot,” Welch said. “We have accomplished a lot including earning our Four-Diamond Viejas Casino & Resort status, the award-winning Grove Steakhouse, and increasing our property to better serve our guests. We will continue to support our neighbors such as the San Diego Salvation Army at large, the San Diego Food Bank and the community of Alpine. These were the people who were there for our tribal members when I was a child and we don’t forget those who have been there for us when needed.”

Chairman Welch also has a heart for the tribe – old and young.

“We hold monthly meetings with our tribal members, in an open forum setting where we discuss community related issues as well as current and ongoing projects,” Welch said. “Our Tribal Education Center has several ongoing programs. The most important of which is we continue to pay college tuition for our youth, for generations to come. I want to ensure they have the ability to take advantage of higher education, for them personally and for the tribe as a whole.”

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