Community Spotlight: Elizabeth FastHorse

Passion is the Driving Force Behind Elizabeth FastHorse Success

Elizabeth Fasthorse

Rincon Tribal member Elizabeth (Piper) FastHorse is a PhD student in Education at UCLA. She was born to parents Emily (Paipa) Piper Kolb and Ralph Pico, a Rincon Tribal Member. She spent her early years growing up in Rincon but for a time she lived in Pomacha (La Jolla) in a little adobe house with no electricity. In that house her grandmother, Florentina Lara (Paipa) Piper, raised her, and taught her traditions, culture and language. It was emphasized to Elizabeth that education and learning were important. Her grandmother always encouraged her to go to “school.” Elizabeth pays tribute to her grandmother for this encouragement and teaching of her culture, language and traditions.

Elizabeth never really thought about going to college because no one in the schools ever talked to her about that being an option. She knew she wanted to continue in school but did not know how to do it. So, she just focused on graduating. In her early years she went to Pala Mission school before she went to attend St Catherine Indian boarding school in Santa Fe, New Mexico when she was fourteen.

The will to go to college was there, but Elizabeth had never been taught how to go to college or how to do college. In her early school days, she says she felt invisible. The Pala school never talked about Native people in the curriculum and it was as if Native students did not matter. College, of course, was never even discussed with the students. When she attended St. Catherine’s; however, it was the first time she felt like she belonged, where Native people were acknowledged and appreciated. That acknowledgement was crucial, it gave her a sense that she did belong, that she was important and could have a voice in her future. Unfortunately, due to her grandmothers’ passing, she had to come back home. As a result, she attended more high schools that made her feel invisible.

After her grandmother’s passing Elizabeth moved to Los Angeles with her mother and finished high school at Bell High School, Bell, CA. Elizabeth went on in her life, and she worked for Warner/Chappell Music a subsidiary of Warner Music Group. Elizabeth’s supervisor encouraged her and became a mentor to her and continued to push her and often said, “Elizabeth, go to school.” Her boss saw her potential and believed in her, and gave her the push she needed. She did go to school, starting at Rio Hondo community college in 2004 where she became immersed in college life and active on campus. She learned that her secret to success was to always take at least one course in something you love along with the other required courses. It must have worked because she ended up an honor student who was then able to transfer to UCLA applying as an American Indian Studies major.

Throughout her time at UCLA Elizabeth has studied American Indian Studies and Education. It was not her original intention to go beyond a Bachelor’s degree but the people she met saw her potential and they supported her and helped her feel that she belonged. Many students of color suffer from what is called Imposter Syndrome, which makes the student feel like they really don’t belong there. Elizabeth was one of those students. She was fortunate, however, to have a strong support group who encouraged her and as she read more books by indigenous scholars, she realized not only did she belong there, but her voice was needed in academia because Native voices need to be heard. Eventually, after many hurdles, and two Master’s Degrees later, she was accepted to a PhD program at UCLA where she currently is today. When asked what she wanted to do with her education Elizabeth talked about her three goals of teaching, research and advocacy in K-12 education. “I am passionate about the importance of language immersion and culturally specific academics that are currently absent in K-12 education,“ Elizabeth stated. She feels that students need to be acknowledged in their school so they feel like they belong.

When asked what advice she would give to Native high school students she said, “I would encourage them to use their voice in their classrooms. I believe that being heard and standing up for what you believe is very important. That acknowledgement of a student’s ideas and views is crucial to success.” It certainly has been for the soon to be Dr. Elizabeth FastHorse.

Rincon Reservation Ready to Conserve More Water Through Conservation Project

From the Spring/Summer 2021 issue of the Rincon Voice

Three-quarters of the earth’s surface is covered with water, so it might appear that there is plenty to go around and that we will never run out of this valuable resource. In reality, however, there is only a limited amount of usable fresh water.

According to the U.S. EPA, over 97 percent of the earth’s water is found in the oceans as salt water. Two percent of the earth’s water is relatively inaccessible for human use and is stored as fresh water in glaciers, ice caps, and snowy mountain ranges. That leaves a mere one percent of the earth’s water available to us for our daily water supply needs.

Almost all of the of Earth’s freshwater resource is groundwater. This subterranean water emerges at the surface to feed streams and saturate wetlands. Groundwater provides a critical reservoir that can be tapped for agricultural, industrial, and environmental uses as well as for drinking water supply.

This is why water conservation is of great importance and is something that everyone on the Rincon Reservation should actively be doing.

A hose bibb is the outdoor water faucet protruding from your house that you hook your garden hose to. Leaky hose bibs have been a noticeable problem for years all over the reservation. Sometimes it’s easy to think “oh it’s only a few drops, that can’t be too much in the grand scheme of things”. This is not true. These small leaks can add up to a big loss of water.

A home with two outside spigots leaking at a slow rate of 20 drips per minute totals up to 57,600 drips of water wasted per day.

  • 57,600 drips of water per day equals 5 gallons of water wasted every day through outside spigots leaking.
  • Over the course of a single year in this home, outside spigots leaking will result in 1,851 gallons of water being wasted.
  • For all of the customers of Rincon’s two public water systems on the reservation, this could collectively result in up to 481,260 gallons of water being wasted per year!

Over time, a leaking hose bibb can even cause water damage to your home’s foundation, which will turn into a much larger and more expensive repair. It also has the potential to contribute to mold and mildew growth. Therefore, it is imperative that we act to prevent the wasting of this precious, limited resource.

To combat the loss of water through leaky hose bibbs, the Rincon Environmental Department has obtained grant funding to pay for the replacement and installation of new hose bibbs with backflow prevention for all residential and commercial customers of Rincon’s two public water systems.

According to Camille Merchant, Rincon Environmental Director, “Some homeowners will dismiss a leaking hose bibb as nothing more than an annoyance, but even outside hose bibbs leaking slowly are a cause for concern. Slow drips are responsible for thousands of gallons of water waste each year”.

Each residential and commercial customer of the Northern and Paradise Creek public water systems will receive up to 3 replacement hose bibbs installed by the tribe at no cost to them. These replacement hose bibbs will have backflow prevention, which will protect the tribe’s wells, and will help to significantly reduce water loss through leakage.

Installation of the new hose bibs are anticipated to take place for customers of the Tribe’s Northern System throughout this Summer and installation of the new hose bibbs are anticipated to occur for customers of the Paradise Creek System are anticipated to take place throughout the Fall. Rincon’s General Services will oversee the installations. More detailed information will be provided to customers by mail in the weeks leading up to those installation times.

Rincon Tribe Partners with UC San Diego Health to Offer All Employees the Covid-19 Vaccine

Valley Center, CA… The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians announced today that they will be offering the Covid-19 Vaccine to all Government employees, Harrah’s Resort SoCal employees and tribal members on Friday, April 9, 2021 from 7:00am – 3:00pm at the Rincon Government Center located at One Government Center Lane in Valley Center. 

“It is our continued goal to protect the health and safety of all of our employees and our tribal people,” stated Chairman Bo Mazzetti of the Rincon Tribe.  “We are encouraging all of our employees and tribal members to receive the vaccine to ensure their health and well-being. We are committed to our employees and strongly believe it is our responsibility to establish a safe working environment.”

“A pillar in the San Diego community, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians continue to support and stand behind our team and our extended family at Harrah’s Resort SoCal, as they have throughout the pandemic,” said Robert Livingston General Manager of Harrah’s Resort SoCal.  “The Tribe continues to champion the health and prosperity of Funner, California, and this community vaccination initiative is just one more example of that dedication to our community. We hope this significant step brings us one leap closer to being able to return to pre-Covid operations.”

UC San Diego Health will be administering vaccines to all interested employees over the age of 18.  Strong confidence in vaccines within communities leads to more people getting vaccinated, which leads to fewer Covid- illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths.   “Whoever thought a little virus would teach us humility?  Whoever thought a little virus would show us how much we will miss our loved ones?  Whoever thought a little virus would teach us how much we would miss our way of life prior to the pandemic?  Whoever thought a little virus would highlight the inequality of the populations impacted by this pandemic?  Whoever thought a little virus would teach us that collaboration and teamwork are the only way to beat it?  Whoever thought a village could accomplish so much against this invisible foe?  These community partnerships like the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians and UC San Diego Health is the village to take the steps back to some sense of normal,” expressed Lydia Ikeda, Sr. Director, COVID Operations for UCSD Health.

“Rincon was the first tribe in California to work with local county officials to develop a Memorandum of Understanding early in the pandemic and we continue to help in turning the curve by offering the vaccination clinic,” said Vice Chair Tishmall Turner of the Rincon Tribe.  “We are thankful to the partnership with UCSD Health to be able to offer the clinic onsite.”


The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians is a sovereign government recognized by the United States of America. The Tribe owns Harrah’s Resort Southern California and uses profits from this and other commercial enterprises to provide government services including police and law enforcement; economic development; healthcare and culture programs; and a tribal court.

Mazzetti and Turner Re-elected to Rincon Tribal Council

From the January/February 2021 issue of the Rincon Voice

The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians rang in the New Year with a new addition to the Council, following an election where three seats were up for nominations.  The seats that were up for election were chairperson, vice-chairperson and a council seat. The Rincon Tribal elections were held on December 12, 2020 at the Rincon Government Center.

Bo Mazzetti was re-elected for another 2-year term as Chairman, making this his sixth consecutive term. He has been serving as Chairman of the tribe for fourteen years, since 2007. This is a very exciting year for Chairman Mazzetti; he has high hopes for the future and many things planned for the tribe.

“I am honored that my people allowed me to serve as their Chairman again for another term,” stated Chairman Bo Mazzetti.  “I look forward to continuing many of the projects the council has initiated over the past year. I am optimistic about the coming year and the path back to normal day to day living for everyone. I also look forward to developing and exchanging opportunities with our surrounding communities.”

Tishmall Turner was also re-elected as Vice-Chairwoman for her third consecutive term. She is a hard-working, dedicated and kind individual who is focused on the tribe.

Joseph Linton has been elected to serve on the tribal council, this will be his first term.  He ran against three other candidates for the council seat.  

“As a member of the Council and the Culture Committee, I am dedicated to helping the people of Rincon. I would like to thank the tribal members for the opportunity to represent and serve Rincon. It is a pleasure and honor to be selected as the newest council member,” stated Councilmember Joe Linton.

The Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians is governed by a 5-member council, which is elected by the general membership. Each individual serves for two years before being up for re-election.

Rincon Fire Chief Ed Hadfield Recognized for 35 years of Fire Service

From the January/February 2021 issue of the Rincon Voice

Dedication, commitment, excellence, courage and perseverance. On January 8th the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians in conjunction with the offices of California Senator Brian Jones, Assembly Woman Marie Waldron, and Supervisor Jim Desmond, all recognized Rincon Fire Chief Ed Hadfield for 35 years in the California fire service.

Ed Hadfield was born in the City of Los Angeles where he was raised primarily by his single mother, who put herself through college, and became a Los Angeles County Deputy Sheriff in the early 70’s. She later married her husband, Ed’s stepfather, who as an LAPD Officer. Ed was active in football throughout his high school career. He attributes his direction to the fire service to the strong positive influences in his life.

From an early age, Hadfield knew he wanted to be a firefighter. His journey in fire service started in 1986 at the Los Angeles County Fire Department at Camp 8. He was a Fire Suppression Aide, also referred to as a Wildland Firefighter.  Over the past 35 years, Chief Hadfield has worked every position and held every rank in the professional fire services. “I held positions in fire agencies in four separate counties including; Los Angeles, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, and Santa Barbara. I’ve responded to some of the largest wildfires in all of the State of California, Earthquakes (Northridge), Riots (Los Angeles 1992), Major High Rise Fires, commanded large Commercial and Industrial Fires and large scale technical rescues. My favorite position was as a firefighter driving the rear of a hook and ladder (Tiller) truck for the City of Huntington Beach,” Chief Hadfield recalls.

He has served the Rincon Tribe as Fire Chief of the Rincon Fire Department for over five years and has plans to be around for many more. “I absolutely love being the Fire Chief at the Rincon Fire Department and this department and the people I get to work with are the best I have ever been a part of.” Chief Hadfield states, “We are a true team and Rincon Fire Department is recognized on a national, state and regional level as leaders in our industry.”

When asked what the service award means to him, Chief Hadfield responded, “Being a firefighter is the greatest gift I have ever been given. Every day, I wake up and I am truly excited to go to work. The people of the Rincon Tribe, the Government and the members of the Fire Department are the absolute best and most supportive people any Fire Chief could ask for. Serving the Rincon Tribe is rewarding to a level that is difficult to describe. We get to know people of the reservation on a personal name basis, which makes our job even better. The Council is highly supportive and engaged in the departments’ success and growth. As for being recognized for 35 years of service, I’m thankful to be part of an outstanding team of professionals that make each day feel like it’s my first day on the job.”

He has lived most of his adult life in San Diego County where he is a single father of two great children.