Rincon Breaks Ground

Rincon Band Breaks Ground on Government Administration Building

For Immediate Release: (July 11, 2017) The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians recently broke ground on a $20 million tribal government administration building to be completed in summer, 2018.  

According the Tribal Chairman Bo Mazzetti, the band needed to combine government offices in a permanent building.  Last year rain damaged the temporary administration offices, forcing the staff to evacuate and re-open in another temporary complex.

“We have come to the end of the line with investing in semi-permanent buildings that really don’t meet our current needs,” said Mazzetti, who added that the council had resisted building a permanent administration complex, preferring to invest in tribal services and reservation infrastructure first. 

“It’s time to build a permanent space. Centralizing government operations in one location will, not only improve government operations and communication, but also save on the cost of moving, replacing and remodeling temporary offices.  After 17 years, our government services have grown, with staff and administration scattered throughout the reservation. Some are housed in outdated, and not very employee or work-friendly buildings. “

The two-story, 43,000-square-foot complex will house tribal law enforcement, human resources, finance, legal, and administration departments, with additional conference and training rooms.  Tribal council chambers will be on the second floor.  Architectural elements include a lobby and entryway with raised ceilings and lighting for an airy, open feel, along with modern energy efficient applications throughout. The interior design will be comprised of rich textures and patterns adapted from tribal basket weaving art, and the historic use of wood and stone as building materials.

“In addition to improved functioning, we are going to use this opportunity to make an artistic statement about our culture by incorporating elements that reflect Luiseño tribal art and with accents featuring natural building materials and indigenous landscaping,” noted Mazzetti.


The new administration building will be located on Valley Center Road, north of the tribal fire department.  In addition to $5 million in road improvements, including a turn lane, the site will have two parking areas to accommodate employees and visitors.

The Worth Group is providing architectural services, with the Hearne Company, a division of W.E. O’Neil,   General Contractor. Joe Martinez of Sierra Building Solutions is Construction Manager.

Rincon Band Donates $300,000 to Palomar Medical Center

Members of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians Tribal Council present Dr. John Steele, Medical Director of Trauma Services, Palomar Health, and Maria Sudak, VP, Palomar Medical Center Escondido, with a check for $300,000 to expand the medical center’s emergency services.

The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians has committed $300,000 to the Palomar Health Foundation capital campaign to fund expansion of emergency services at Palomar Medical Center Escondido.

Specifically, these funds will go toward building out Pod D, the unfinished shell space inside the Emergency Department that will feature new patient treatment rooms, with state-of-the-art medical beds, monitors, technology, and lifesaving equipment, along with additional clinical support space.

According to Bo Mazzetti, Rincon chairman, this is not the Band’s first contribution to the Palomar Health Foundation. However, it is the first to the Emergency Department expansion campaign.

“When considering how to make our donations meaningful to the North County, we wanted to make an investment that benefits as many people as possible,” said Mazzetti. “A contribution to meet increased emergency capacity at Palomar Medical Center Escondido was an obvious solution because at some time almost everyone is likely to need emergency care either for themselves or for family.”

“Convenience, skill, and timing is important to saving lives in a serious emergency,” Mazzetti said.  “Rincon members, like others in North County, look to Palomar Medical Center Escondido for our care and we believe it is important to support the Foundation’s goal to provide the highest level of treatment.”

According to Dr. Jaime Rivas, Emergency Services Medical Director at Palomar Health, the Emergency Department sees an average of about 300 patients per day and expects that number to climb in the future. The Emergency Department currently has 52 licensed beds increasing to 66 once Pod D is completed by the end of this year.

“One of the many benefits from the increased capacity will be to allow the entire treatment team to better experience the joy of medicine,” Dr.

Rivas said. “Happier doctors will translate to better care and overall satisfaction for patients.”

Dr. Rivas added that he expects wait times to decrease in the emergency department. When originally opened in 2012, the Emergency Department expected to serve about 60,000 patients annually but has been serving more than 100,000.

As North County’s only Trauma Center, Palomar Medical Center Escondido treats victims of car accidents, heart attacks, strokes, snake bites, head injuries, and everything in between.

The Rincon contribution will be made over three years, with installments of $100,000 contributed annually.

A Good Year for Remembering the American Indian Alaska Native Veterans

“They volunteered in greater numbers than this country’s ever known. But, the freedom they fought for wasn’t theirs when they got home.  They lie in humble graves and go unrecognized.  …The American Indian Veteran — answered the call of the brave… So, tell me why there’s never been a monument to honor… The American Indian Veteran?”—“The American Indian Veteran” recorded and composed by Ray Sells.

Prospects are improving for construction of the nation’s first American Indian Alaska Native Veterans memorial, as the American Indian Alaska Native Veterans Memorial Committee (AIAN Veterans Memorial Committee), stepped up their campaign to make people aware of the failure of America to honor 200 years of courageous military contributions by the country’s original people.

According to Bo Mazzetti, honorary chairman of the committee, the non-profit organization, tasked with raising $3 million to install a memorial in Riverside National Cemetery, in Southern California, generated new support through a public education campaign.   California tribal leaders hosted a tour of the memorial’s center-piece-monument –“The Gift,” and the group received key endorsements from elected officials, like California Gov. Jerry Brown.  Entertainer Wayne Newton volunteered to be the memorial’s celebrity spokesperson, and the monument also got its own musical ballad –”The American Indian Veteran.”

“There’s new energy and a groundswell of interest in the memorial and our fundraising drive to make it happen.  The more we tell people about the memorial, the more they wonder why there isn’t one.  The answer is that Indians have to raise our own funds and construct our own monument”, the honorary chairman pointed out.

“The planned memorial for our veterans at Riverside National Cemetery has been too long coming.  It’s time. This is the year to get it done!

“We want America to know that we too have a memorial that shows not just our pride – there is plenty of that—but a visible testimony where people will actually see and feel the sacrifices Indian people have made and continue to make for love of this country,” added Mazzetti.

Endeavoring to raise the $3 million cost to construct and install the memorial; the AIAN Veterans Memorial Committee took their campaign to California’s tribal-owned casinos and resorts.

Thanks to tribal leaders, who hosted the replica of the sculptured monument –”The Gift” —  and the memorial presentation, the tour traveled to tribal casinos and resorts in San Diego, Riverside, and San Bernardino Counties.  The tour will be traveling north to Santa Barbara and Northern California counties.

Created to raise awareness of the memorial, the tour featured a ½-size replica of “The Gift,” the 12-foot bronze sculpture, which will be the focal point of the memorial.  A profoundly passionate piece of work by the renowned artist, A. Thomas Schomberg, “The Gift” portrays a proud Indian robed in an American flag, mounted on a pedestal, and surrounded by 12 bronze, soaring eagles on pedestals.

Known as the “Arlington of the West,” Riverside National Cemetery, which has been designated the site of the AIAN memorial, is also is home to other prestigious memorials, including the Medal of Honor Memorial, the Veterans Memorial, and the POW/MIA Memorial.

According to Sharron Savage, AIAN Veterans Memorial Committee chairwoman, the purpose of the tour was not just about funding the memorial, but also to educate people about the extraordinary contribution of American Indian and Alaskan Native veterans in service of the United States.

“The response was amazing. People loved the replica of the statue.  We had crowds; people stopping to take pictures and asking questions everywhere we went. They were shocked to learn that there was no federal recognition of the extraordinary military service of the American Indian people — people, who voluntarily served in WWI even though they did not have citizenship in their own country,” she noted.

The committee got another boost from Mr. Las Vegas — Wayne Newton.  Newton, who is of Indian descent, signed on as celebrity sponsor of the memorial.  Known for his contributions to the U.S. military, the United States Service Organizations (USO) — with more than 160 centers worldwide — named Newton to take the torch of chairman of the “USO Celebrity Circle” from another legend: Bob Hope.

Expressing gratitude to Newton for lending his name and time to honor American Indian veterans, Mazzetti, a veteran of the Vietnam War, thanked Newton for “helping to dedicate a sacred space of remembrance — a final resting place for those whose sacrifices have too long been overlooked.

“On behalf of our committee and Indian veterans throughout the US, I can only convey our heartfelt thanks,” he said.

Spreading the word, an advertising donation of $700,000, kicked off a three week, California radio campaign in March, featuring Newton’s endorsement of the memorial.  Newton also recorded a public service announcement, which will be airing on television. He has also volunteered to help with fund-raising efforts, with the possibility of a concert in the future.

On April 8, the AIAN Veterans Committee, sponsored a traditional “Honoring and Cultural Ceremony” to bless the Riverside-Cemetery Memorial site. The event highlighted the area dedicated to the memorial, and memorial renderings.  Numerous veterans’ dignitaries spoke at the event, including Donald E. Loudner (Hunkpati Sioux), CW4 (US ARMY, RET), National Commander, National American Indian Veterans, Inc., and Ricardo Reyes, California Undersecretary of Cal-Vets Minority Affairs.

“The Riverside Cemetery is located on land that was originally home to a number of Southern California Indians. The event was a traditional honoring and dedication of the land as sacred – a hallowed resting place for our veterans,” explained Mazzetti.

He went on to note that the cemetery is on Colorado Desert lands, which only became Riverside County in the 19th Century.  It was home to diverse bands of California Indian people, including the Cahuilla, Gabrielino, Serrano, Luiseño, Chemehuevi, and Mojave tribes. Other Native Americans call the county home, including urban Indians from tribes throughout the nation.

“It was a moving event,” Mazzetti said. “American Indian-Alaska Native veterans’ flag corps, honoring drum groups, Bird Singers,  Jingle dancers, spiritual and tribal leaders came together with veterans and their families to remember and pray for all who have served and bless the land that will become their earthly resting place.”

One of the highlights of the event was the introduction of the song, “The American Indian Veteran”– written specifically about the Riverside-AIAN memorial and performed by Jimmy Ray Sells, Nashville songwriter and Board Member of “Operation Song.”

The lyrics were written by Sells, Don Goodman, Operation Song Founder Bob Regan, and Commander Don Loudner.  Sells previously performed another original song, “Arlington,” on Memorial Day, 2015, at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

In the ballad of the “The American Indian Veteran,” Sells asks, “Tell me why there has never been a monument to honor them?”

In the last chorus of the song, Sells depicts the sculpture, “The Gift,” finally at home in the memorial for the American Indian and Alaska Native Veterans.

“I see a statue of a proud warrior, winter wind and summer rains, standing vigil over all our heroes’ names. A bronze face of courage, a feather in his hair, old glory on his shoulders and on his lips a silent prayer… for The American Indian Veteran.

“They answered the call of the brave…Tell me why there has never been a monument that honors them?… The American Indian Veteran.”

“I think the chorus of the song pretty well sums things up. We are also asking ‘Why there is no memorial that honors them’?” lamented Mazzetti, adding,  “The mission of the AIAN Veterans War Memorial Committee is to answer the question of, ‘Why not?’ with a, ‘Hell, yes!’ we are honoring our veterans with a memorial.”

He added, “We have all the plans and permits approved, the monument is commissioned and ready to be completed, and installed in one of the West Coast’s most prestigious, most beautiful and peaceful locations in the cemetery.

“With some financial help, next year, we can all come to a celebration to break ground on the first and only American Indian Veterans Memorial,” he said.

Rincon sponsors Cruisin’ Grand

c Other VIPs shown in the photo (whose names we were able to obtain) were Escondido city council members Ed Gallo, Mike Morasco and Deputy Mayor John Masson, Tom Stinson, of Assemblywoman Marie Waldron’s office and Miss Escondido.

New tribal vice chairman wants to serve her people by continuing economic development and preserving sovereignty

Tishmall Turner was recently elected vice chairman of the Rincon tribe. In that capacity, she attended President Trump’s inaugural and met with the new Secretary of the Interior designate Ryan Zinke and the White House Tribal Advisor.

She also attended the inaugural ball sponsored by the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. Like many members of Indian Country, Turner is closely watching the new administration for signs of whether it will be pro or anti-Indian, or somewhere in between.

Tishmall (which means “hummingbird”)  grew up on the reservation and lived most of her life there. She attended local schools and graduated from Orange Glen High School. She obtained a BA and Master’s in business administration. She attended college at Palomar Community College and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI) in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the University of Phoenix.

Her day job is as tribal liaison at Cal State University San Marcos. As she describes it, “I serve as the point of contact for tribes hoping to work with the university and to the university to expand its initiative to tribes. She personally advises the president of the university on these matters, and is the first of only two such advisers in the Cal State system.

She has worked about twenty years in Indian Country. “I bring a lot to the table for relationship building and working with people in socioeconomic development,” she says.

Her goal as vice chairwoman is “to continue economic and social development for all of our tribal members and to continue to build programs that are centered on the welfare and safety of not only the reservation but the surrounding communities.” She points out that the Rincon Tribal Fire Dept. station answers mainly off-reservation calls: 98% are not on Rincon.

“We continue to build on those successes,” she says. “We support our local school district, Rotary, Palomar Health; we help anyone who lives in this area. We think that’s beneficial.”

One of her goals as vice chairman is to promote economic diversity. Like many tribes, Rincon sees the wisdom of not putting all the tribe’s economic eggs in the gaming basket. So, not so long ago the tribe opened the Travel Plaza and became the first tribe in America to own a 7-11 franchise. Last fall it opened SR-76, the first tribal brewery in San Diego County, which operates near Harrah’s Southern California Resort’s porte-cochere entrance.

“We are working on opening an RV park within the next two years,” she said. The facility will have room for about 100 spaces and have the attendant amenities associated with such a business.

The tribe is also invested in several manufacturing companies, mainly in the Western U.S. One manufactures off-road ATV’s, another manufactures cordage (i.e. rope) and a third manufactures plastic cards.

“We have to be diversified and take advantage of any business that promotes and maintains sovereignty as a tribe,” she says. “I grew up when we didn’t have gaming.” She grew up and got her education, but always knew that she wanted to come back and serve her tribe:

“I wanted to make my community a better place.”

Turner is an avid outdoorswoman who likes to golf, hike at Mammoth, go to the beach and be the auntie to her nieces and nephews. She has written children’s books in her tribe’s language, books that have been illustrated by a local Luiseño artist. She doesn’t speak Luiseño, but relied on a member of the tribe who did speak the language to help put her words into that tongue.

“I believe in uniting our tribal membership and share common goals that will preserve the tribe for generations to come. I believe our language, culture and education are crucial to maintaining our sovereignty,” she says.

Although she is new to the tribal council she is not new to serving her tribe. For the last eight years, she has been vice chairman of the tribal economic corporation, which oversees business ventures outside of the casino. She was also donations chairman of the Donations and Sponsorship Committee that she describes as “the tribe’s PR arm” for six years.

Because she can’t wear two hats, she is resigning from both positions to serve solely on the tribal council.

“It’s an exciting time to be in a leadership role for Rincon because we are achieving such great success. We’re planning a new tribal administration building in June, which will be near the fire station.”