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Organization Title

About the Native American Heritage Commission

History

In 1976, the California State Government passed AB 4239, establishing the Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) as the primary government agency responsible for identifying and cataloging Native American cultural resources. Up until this point, there had been little government participation in the protection of California’s cultural resources. As such, one of the NAHC’s primary duties, as stated in AB 4239, was to prevent irreparable damage to designated sacred sites, as well as to prevent interference with the expression of Native American religion in California.

Furthermore, the bill authorized the Commission to act in order to prevent damage to and insure Native American access to sacred sites. Moreover, the Commission could request that the court issue an injunction for the site, unless it found evidence that public interest and necessity required otherwise.

In addition, the bill authorized the commission to prepare an inventory of Native American sacred sites located on public lands and required the commission to review current administrative and statutory protections accorded to such sites.

In 1982, legislation was passed authorizing the Commission to identify a Most Likely Descendant (MLD) when Native American human remains were discovered any place other than a dedicated cemetery. MLDs were granted the legal authority to make recommendations regarding the treatment and disposition of the discovered remains. These recommendations, although they cannot halt work on the project site, give MLDs a means by which to ensure that the Native American human remains are treated in the appropriate manner.

Today, the NAHC provides protection to Native American human burials and skeletal remains from vandalism and inadvertent destruction. It also provides a legal means by which Native American descendents can make known their concerns regarding the need for sensitive treatment and disposition of Native American burials, skeletal remains, and items associated with Native American burials.


Commissioners

Commissioner James Ramos, NAHC Chairperson

District 3 Supervisor, San Bernardino County
Former Chairman, San Manuel Band of Mission Indians (Highland)
Tribal Affiliation: Serrano/Cahuilla

Commissioner Ramos

Commissioner Chairperson Ramos is a member of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. Commissioner Ramos is the former Chairman of the San Manuel Tribe and also previously held the positions of Treasurer and Business Committee Member. He served as Chairman of the San Manuel Gaming Commission. Commissioner Ramos served as member of the San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustees. In November 2012, Commissioner Ramos became the first San Manuel tribal member elected to the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.

Commissioner Ramos credits education as the single most important factor in his success and the success of his Tribe. Commissioner Ramos, holds an MBA from the University of Redlands, a bachelor’s of science degree in Business Administration from Cal State San Bernardino and an Associate of science degree in Business Management from Victor Valley College in Victorville. Commissioner Ramos also received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Northern Arizona University in 2009.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Commissioner Ramos to the Native American Heritage Commission on November 14, 2007.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. reappointed Commissioner Ramos to the Native American Heritage Commission on May 8, 2013.


Commissioner Laura Miranda, NAHC Vice Chairperson

Deputy General Counsel, Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians (Temecula)
Tribal Affiliation: Luiseño

Commissioner Miranda

Commissioner Vice-Chairperson Miranda, is a member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. Commissioner received her Juris doctorate degree from Cornell Law School, and her Bacherlors of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Prior to joining the Pechanga Tribe’s Office of the General Counsel, Ms. Miranda was a founding Partner of Miranda, Tomaras & Ogas, LLP, and Directing Attorney at California Indian Legal Services. At California Legal Services, Commissioner Miranda’s legal practice was focused on assisting Tribes with protection and preservation of their cultural resources, sacred resources and Native American human remains utilizing federal and state environmental laws, and historic preservation laws. Her interest in such issues began as a student at UCLA where she helped organize community efforts to urge the University of California to repatriate Native American human remains and sacred items to the culturally affiliated Indian Tribes.

Commissioner Miranda’s accomplishments include legislative work on cultural resources protection laws, including the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act sponsored by Assemblyman Steinberg and introduced by Senator Burton. Ms. Miranda has been successful in negotiating numerous agreements and settlements on behalf of Tribes with local government agencies and land developers concerning adequate protections for cultural resources and Native American human remains. Commissioner Miranda has given numerous presentations on cultural resources protection to Tribes, government organizations, universities, and interested organizations and testified on cultural resources protection issues at federal, state and local hearings.

As Deputy General Counsel for the Pechanga Tribe, Commissioner Miranda’s work focuses on cultural resources protection and other tribal issues. Commissioner Miranda is one of the elected representatives on behalf of the Pechanga Tribe to the Luiseño/Cupeño Inter-Tribal NAGPRA Coalition (LINC), a coalition of Luiseño tribes charged with repatriation of tribal cultural resources. Commissioner Miranda is also a board member of the Riverside County Tribal Traditional Resources Advisory Committee.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Commissioner Miranda to the Native American Heritage Commission on November 14, 2007.


Commissioner Merri Lopez-Keifer, NAHC Secretary

Chief Legal Counsel, San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians
Tribal Affiliation: Luiseno

Commissioner Lopez-Keifer has been an attorney in private practice since 2010 and chief legal counsel for the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians since 1998. She served as an assistant district attorney in the San Francisco District Attorney’s Office from 1999 to 2004. Lopez-Keifer earned a Juris Doctor degree from Boston College Law School.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Commissioner Lopez-Keifer to the Native American Heritage Commission on June 3, 2015. This position requires Senate confirmation.


Commissioner Reginald Pagaling, NAHC Parliamentarian

Tribal Elder, Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians
Tribal Affiliation: Chumash

Commissioner Pagaling is an enrolled member of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians and a tribal elder. He has devoted his time to re-establishing the traditional maritime culture of the Tribe since 1996, and has also served as chairman of the Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee of Santa Barbara County since 2010. Pagaling was tribal education program coordinator for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians from 1993 to 1996. He was public relations manager for the Chumash Casino Resort from 1991 to 1993 and was cultural resources coordinator and Native American monitor at the Tribal Elders Council of Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians from 1988 to 1990. Pagaling built the Tomol “Muptami of Kalawashaq,” a traditional Chumash plank canoe, and co-organizes the annual Tomol crossing from Channel Islands Harbor to Santa Cruz Island. Pagaling is a member of the Chumash Maritime Association.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Commissioner Pagaling to the Native American Heritage Commission on March 28, 2013.


Commissioner Marshall McKay, NAHC Commissioner

Former Chairman, Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation (Brooks)
Tribal Cultural Affiliation: Wintun

Commissioner McKay

Commissioner McKay is Chairman Emeritus of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. He began his career in tribal government in 1984 and served as Chairman for three terms.

Born in Colusa, California, Commissioner McKay grew up in Brooks near his present-day home in the Yocha Dehe tribal community. After attending Sonoma State University in Northern California, Commissioner McKay worked in management for the United States Navy and retired as a nuclear refueling manager.

A cornerstone of his leadership is his commitment to cultural renewal and preservation, a focus he extends into education programs and sustainable land-use practices. Commissioner McKay is dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Native arts and culture, the affirmation of sovereign tribal governance, and the international effort to protect the rights of all indigenous people.

Commissioner McKay oversees the day-to-day operations of the tribal government, the Tribe’s Cache Creek Casino Resort and its other business endeavors. He also serves as chair of the Community Fund Board and Cache Creek Casino Resort Board, and is a member of the Fire Commission, Cultural Resources Committee, Property, Farm and Ranch Committee, Maintenance and Operations Committee, the Health and Wellness Committee, and Yocha Dehe Wintun Academy Board. Prior to being elected Chairman, he served as Tribal Treasurer and Tribal Secretary.

Commissioner McKay is a board member of the UC Davis Foundation, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and the Native American Rights Fund. He is a founding member and chair of the Native Arts & Cultures Foundation and also chairman of the board of the Autry National Center in Los Angeles.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Commissioner McKay to the Native American Heritage Commission on November 14, 2007.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. reappointed Commissioner Ramos to the Native American Heritage Commission on May 8, 2013.


Commissioner William (Bill) Mungary, NAHC Commissioner

Director of Kern County Community Development Program, retired (Bakersfield)
Tribal Affiliation: Paiute/White Mountain Apache

Commissioner Mungary

Mr. Mungary retired as the Director of the Community Development Program, Resource Management Agency of Kern County, a position he held for over 30 years. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations Curriculum and Masters in Business Administration in General Management from the University of California at Los Angeles. He served in the US Air Force and achieved the rank of Captain.

Mr. Mungary is on the Board of Directors of the National Association for County Community and Economic Development and founding member of the American Indian Council of Central California, Inc., California Association for Local Economic Development, and the Native American Heritage Preservation Council of Kern County, where he served on the Board of Directors from 1991-1995. He was a member of the Cultural Resources and Economic Development Committees of the Federal Advisory Council of California Indian Policy and the Committee on Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Implementation for the California Department of Parks and Recreation. In March of 1995, Governor Wilson appointed Mr. Mungary to serve as a member of the California Rural Development Council.

Governor George Deukmejian appointed Commissioner William (Bill) Mungary of Bakersfield to the Native American Heritage Commission on December 17, 1987. Mr. Mungary served as the NAHC Chairperson from 1990-2008.

 


Commissioner Julie Tumamait-Stenslie, NAHC Commissioner

Chairperson, Barbareno/Ventureno Band of Mission Indians (Ojai)
Tribal Affiliation: Chumash

Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie

Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie is the chairperson of the Barbareno /Ventureno Band of Mission Indians. Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie is a respected elder, singer, storyteller, and Cultural Resource Consultant/Advisor. Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie a member of the Board of Trustees for the Ojai Valley Historical Society and Museum, the Board of Trustees and California Indian Advisory Committee for the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, and the University of California at Santa Barbara’s Committee on the “Repatriation” of Native American ceremonial artifacts. Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie currently serves on the Ojai Valley Museum Board of Trustees as well as the Oakbrook Chumash Interpretative Center Board. Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie has served as a consultant for Chumash Cultural Services since 1985.

Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie is an artist that uses native materials to create her jewelry, musical instruments, and basketry. Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie continues to practice and teach her native language.

Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Commissioner Tumamait-Stenslie to the Native American Heritage Commission on November 14, 2007.

 



Commissioner Russell Attebery, NAHC Commissioner

Chairman, Karuk Tribe
Tribal Affiliation: Karuk

Commissioner Attebery has been council chairman of the Karuk Tribe of California since 2012. He was a teacher and athletic director at Happy Camp High School from 2009 to 2012, substitute teacher for Shasta County Schools from 2003 to 2008 and quality control supervisor and sawyer at Sierra Pacific Industries from 1982 to 2003. Attebery is a member of the American Professional Baseball Association.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Commissioner Attebery to the Native American Heritage Commission on May 29, 2014.


Commissioner Joseph Myers, NAHC Commissioner

Executive Director, National Indian Justice Center
Tribal Affiliation: Pomo

Commissioner Myers is the Executive Director at the National Indian Justice Center since 1983. He earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. appointed Commissioner Myers to the Native American Heritage Commission on June 3, 2015.This position requires Senate confirmation.

Nine Commissioners make a full quorum.


Christina Snider, Executive Secretary

Native American Heritage Commission AND
Governor’s Tribal Advisor, Office of the Governor
Tribal Affiliation: Pomo

Christina Snider, of Healdsburg, has been appointed Governor’s Tribal Advisor and executive secretary to the Native American Heritage Commission. Governor Brown established the position of Governor’s Tribal Advisor by executive order to bolster communication and collaboration between California state government and Native American Tribes. Snider is a member of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians and has served as an Indian Child Welfare Act representative for the Tribe since 2017. She was of counsel at Ceiba Legal LLP from 2016 to 2017, staff attorney at the National Congress of American Indians from 2015 to 2016, a legal fellow at the Wishtoyo Foundation in 2014 and a law clerk in the Office of Tribal Justice at the U.S. Department of Justice in 2012. Snider is a member of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians Housing Advisory Committee and the California Indian Law Association. She earned a Juris Doctor degree from the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law.