Kumeyaay Selected as Senior Leader
Meeting Dates


   Folks arrive and enjoy the breezy, bright, beautiful day for the most part on their own. A solid core group of Tonkawa members and representatives of local support organizations are occupied with tasks and responsibility. Lots of unstructured visiting and relaxing is a big part of this 1st Annual Tonkawa Picnic at Admiral Baker Field. This year the organizing committee designated Nellie Ruiz to be the official greeter. Esther Abrahano, Tonkawa President and Joe Renteria organized the activities and games. The Indian Human Resource Center Executive Director, Juan Castellanos secured the site. The IHRC further provided the burgers for the grilling. The American Indian Health Center provided the dogs to go with other meats. The Title IX Indian Education Program pitched in with iced drinks for everyone's refreshment. Steve Gomez was most helpful shopping for drinks and being available to unload and load and -Wow- don't forget the A #1 salsa he put together with his own little fingers.
   This recreation area is just off Friars Road and behind the San Diego Mission de Alcala. This area field and golf course is on the original flood plain of the San Diego River and historically was the area used for agricultural purposes during the mission period. Earlier, in time, this same area is the village site Nipoway. This entire region is the traditional homeland of the Tipai - Kumeyaay tribal people.

Early in the day, Lillian Arguilez is instructing an eager class of children on how to assemble interpretations of "dreamcatchers".Paul Razo and Juan Castellanos (IHRC Executive Director) are flipping burgers and rolling dogs on the grill.
    Greeting and meeting continues to ebb and flow from group to group. Forming and reforming as most recent arrivals move and join those of similar interests.
    Finally, it's time to line up to eat! Full plates of traditional picnic fare, cool drinks and lots of shady areas to enjoy the first feed of the afternoon.
Vickie Gambala keeps encouraging those sitting on the grass that there are four reserved tables available with colorful table cloths, and further that the Tonkawa paid $100 to reserve them. One or two move over to the covered area but most are well occupied with what is in their hands.
    The day is not without incident. Our good friend Paul Razo (one of our faithful cooks) is hustled off to the emergency room with some disturbing conditions. With concern, we later learn it wasn't what we first thought, but it most likely was a side effect to prescription medication for a previous back injury and an off the scale sugar spike - yup, our most familiar malady; Diabetes. We tribal people all need to test frequently and carefully for diabetes. Tribal Americans are the MOST effected population by this "contribution" of Western Civilization.
Hey! This is overall a day of fun for everyone with games and activities organized by Joe Renteria: Sack races, relays (tiny tot and adult hoppers), beanbag toss, jelly bean race (you get to eat all that fall off the spoon). This contest is even fun to lose! More fun; softball, frisbee, soccer, and old time traditional horse shoes. Lots of prizes for all events.

Wild hats on parade.
People came from far and wide to participate in this contest. Lots of effort and creativity made the judging choices hard for the new Clinic Director, Dr. Gene Gerber and Ray Maracle, IHRC Community Block Grant Coordinator. The charming winner was a beautiful little Cherokee girl, Rene Estrada, niece of Vickie Gambala, still dripping from swimming in the pool.
    As the shadows got longer and darker: Some snoozed, some left and more people kept on arriving, really fashionable and really late. Late in the afternoon, while many were finding room for chilled watermelon and excellent potato salad, the grill was fired up again! Apachee and "Neno" (Wil) Mims started burning burgers and feeding their tribe.Others magically found space to pack away "a little more" of the very generous and tasty hosted potluck at this Tonkawa 1st Annual Picnic. Club President, Esther Abrahano and all the committee did themselves proud.

Tonkawa meets every 2nd Sunday of the month, 12 noon, at Chet Hunt Community Center-3928 Illinois St., and can be contacted at (619) 501-6428 for more information.
I am real sure we won't have to wait a year for the next community event - see you there!
Roy Cook

Tonkawa Council of Elders
Respect Native American Traditions

The Tonkawa Council of Elders was founded in 1974 by a consortium of American Indian individuals, many of whom were tribal seniors. At that time, they were employed by the San Diego Indian Center located downtown, on Fifth and Cedar. This organization and services no longer exist. Tonkawa Council of Elders is the traditional rock of Native American wisdom for the new millinium.

Our Purpose:
The purpose of the Tonkawa Council of Elders Development Project is to improve the quality of life for American Indian Elders. Our major focus is community development. Our goal is to provide the resources to assist all American Indian elders in a respectful, traditional manner.
To improve the quality of life for American Indian Elders we will inform and facilitate their access to services that will maintain them in their homes, as respected members of their communities and as keepers of our tribal custom and traditions.