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Tribal and commission leaders take office

December and January marked a period for appointments and elections across Southern California Indian territory.

California’s Native American Heritage Commission announced Jan. 6 that San Manuel Band of Mission Indians Chairman James Ramos will serve as its chairman.

“As a tribal chairman he has had a considerable amount of experience in this regard and we expect his voice to be loud and clear in ensuring that there is widespread respect for our past and that our traditions are carried proudly for future generations,” said NAHC Executive Secretary Larry Myers.

Ramos succeeds William “Bill” Mungary, a Paiute-White Mountain Apache Indian who served as chairman for 18 years. He will stay on as a commissioner.

Ramos isn’t stopping there. He was also appointed as chairman of the San Bernardino Community College District Dec. 14 and is serving a second term as an elected trustee, making him the office holder of two public offices and one tribal office.

Pechanga Band of Mission Indians member Laura Miranda was elected as NAHC’s vice chairperson, a position held last by Clifford Trafzer, a Wyandot Indian.

The Barona Band of Mission Indians elected Edwin “Thorpe” Romero as chairman. He officially took office Jan. 1. He succeeds Rhonda Welch-Scalco who did not run for re-election.

“I look forward to serving the people of Barona and leading our sovereign government to preserve our culture and sustain our sovereignty for future generations,” Romero said.

Joining Romero will be council members Edward Joseph Welch, Linda Curo, Brandon Banegas, Charles “Beaver” Curo, Adam Reyes and Beth Glasco.

Bobby L. Barrett was re-elected in December as chairman of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians – his second two-year term. He will be joined by council members Robert Welch Jr. Diana Aguilar, John Christman, Virginia Christman, Greybuck Espinoza and Tim Bactad.

Barrett said he was honored to be leading the tribe for a second term. “I humbly follow in the footsteps of the many other tribal leaders who have led our people for tens of thousands of years.”