San Diegan Jane Dumas, Kumeyaay Selected as Senior Leader
By Roy Cook

Jane Dumas was one of 35 California Senior Leaders honored Sept. 13 and 14, 2002 by the UC Berkeley School of Public Health for their outstanding contributions to community-building and healthy aging in the state. Funded by The California Wellness Foundation, the awards ceremony was designed to showcase the often invisible role of California rapidly growing senior population and to provide selected seniors with two days of recognition and training.

The School of Public Health solicited written nominations from local health departments, foundations, colleges, community-based organizations, and local and state governments. Eligibility was restricted to those at least 55 years old who had demonstrated a commitment to healthy aging and giving back to their communities.
Jane Dumas is often the first person called to mind when anyone needs to reference Kumeyaay tribal issues. She is a humble person who would rather work for the improvement of si tuations rather than confrontation and attention of self. She grew up in a dirt-floored home, hauling water by the bucket. She spoke Kumeyaay and Spanish before English. Jane Dumas is a member of the Jamul Band of Kumeyaay Indians in East County.

In April of this year, 2002, the Jamul Indian Village Band of Kumeyaay gave her public recognition and honored her with a plaque for being inducted into the first San Diego County Woman Hall of Fame. Further, the Jamul tribe exercised their sovereignty and proclaimed that the March 23 date is officially: Jane Dumas Day. She is a well-known and widely respected elder, teacher, and leader in San Diego's American Indian community and in San Diego at-large.

For decades, Jane has been speaking in classrooms and at public events, sharing knowledge of Kumeyaay culture and medicine, and stressing the value of traditional language and history in today's urban and American Indian societies. In 1981, Jane helped found the San Diego American Indian Health Center, and since 1986 she has been described as an "anchor, leader, peacemaker, and bridge between Indian and non-Indians in the areas of medicine and education" and she believes that "We can become healthier as both individuals and as a community by incorporating traditional knowledge and spirituality."

"Healthy aging is defined broadly by The Wellness Foundation so that a wide diversity of projects that add life to years and years to life could be considered," Minkler says. "Awardees are all working in unpaid capacities, so our graduate students will now be able to provide them with some guidance and technical assistance.
"Seniors have been called our only expanding natural resource, yet society continues to cast them as burdens rather than the tremendous assets they are," says Meredith Minkler DrPH, a Berkeley Professor of Community Health Education and Health & Social Behavior, Located at 535 University Hall, the Resource Center on Aging/Academic Geriatric Resource Program is a state-funded program administered by the School of Public Health. Minkler, the founding director of the UC Center on Aging, is the principal investigator for a new two-year School of Public Health project, California Senior Leaders and Healthy Aging, which will follow the 35 senior awardees through the next two years.
Roy Cook (Mazopiye Wichasha) Opata/Osage, author/publisher.