Native American Heritage Commission Chair Elected
Members also select Vice-Chair and Secretary at Quarterly Meeting
California’s Native American Heritage Commission (NAHC) announced today that Highland, Calif. resident James Ramos will serve as NAHC Chairman following the election on Dec. 12, 2008 in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. Ramos fills the position held by Bakersfield, Calif. resident William (Bill) Mungary, a Paiute/White Mountain Apache Indian for the past 18 years. Mr. Mungary decided to step down and was given the courtesy and opportunity to take the lead in nominating Mr. Ramos. Ramos was elected uncontested and unanimously. Mungary will continue to stay on as a commissioner.
“James Ramos is going to do a great job of fostering the preservation and protection of Native American cultural and ancestral remains, artifacts and traditions. As a tribal chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, 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. “I also want to express our sincere gratitude and deep appreciation for the long and distinguished service of outgoing Chair Bill Mungary, we are elated that he has agreed to continue with us as a commissioner.”
Ramos, a Serrano/Cahuilla Indian, is chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians. He has served as cultural awareness program coordinator for the tribe, has held various tribal offices and is currently a trustee for the San Bernardino Community College District.
Ramos has also implemented youth leadership programs and taught traditional activities to tribal youth as a way to encourage and continue Native American traditions for future generations.
In his role as NAHC chairman he will oversee efforts to protect and preserve human remains, associated grave goods, cultural resources and will work to encourage the continuance of Native American culture.
Temecula resident Laura Miranda, a member of the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians, was elected Vice Chairperson. As a tribal attorney over the past 10 years, Ms. Miranda has devoted a large part of her practice to cultural resources protection.
Ms. Miranda has helped to draft several cultural resources protection laws in the state, including the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (Steinberg), and SB 18 (Burton), a comprehensive measure that provided fundamental protections for American Indian sacred sites throughout California. Miranda was a key architect of the bill and worked with legislators and opposing groups to build consensus among diverse stakeholders.
Ms. Miranda has been successful in negotiating numerous agreements and settlements on behalf of tribes with local government agencies and land developers leading to protections for cultural resources and Native American human remains. Miranda has testified on cultural resources protection issues at federal, state and local hearings.
Miranda fills the position vacated by Yucaipa resident, Dr. Clifford Trafzer, a Wyandot Indian.
Ojai resident Julie Tumamait-Stenslie was elected NAHC Secretary. Tumamait-Stenslie has been educating children in the elementary schools as well as at the university level for over 20 years. Ms. Tumamait-Stenslie works with the local Museums through out the counties. “ I feel that education is very important , I am very involved with the teachers who teach the 3rd and 4th grade curriculum . There is still a lot to be said about how the public schools represents our culture.”
“ I am very excited to be on this commission and acting at the capacity of Secretary .There is a lot of work to be done . I am here to represent my Chumash Heritage and the land of my Ancestors. I am looking forward to working with staff and the other commissioners to see that we educate the public and help preserve our sacred sites.
Tumamait-Stenslie fills the position vacated by Fawn Morris, a Yurok Indian from Northern California.