SANTA YNEZ, CA — Kenneth Kahn was re-elected Tribal Chairman of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians in a recent vote that was held to appoint the tribe’s governing body. Also re-elected were all four members of the tribe’s Business Committee: Mike Lopez, Maxine Littlejohn, Gary Pace and Raul Armenta.
Kahn was elected to the tribe’s Business Committee in 2003 and served for seven consecutive terms as Secretary/Treasurer and Vice Chairman. He became Tribal Chairman in a special election in 2016 and is currently serving his third term as Chairman. Under his chairmanship, the tribe completed its casino expansion project, Camp 4 was placed into federal trust by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and progress continues on the tribe’s Santa Ynez Chumash Museum and Cultural Center project.
After serving for almost a decade as the Gaming Commission Chairman, Lopez joined the Business Committee in 2015. The recent election serves as his fourth consecutive term on the tribe’s leadership team, and his first term as Vice Chairman. In addition to his role on the Business Committee, Lopez serves as a representative for the tribe’s Education Committee, is currently a board member for the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County and also serves as Vice Chairman for the California Nations Indian Gaming Association’s executive board.
Littlejohn was first elected to the Business Committee in 2000 and became Secretary-Treasurer in 2003 until she temporarily left the committee to serve on the Gaming Commission from 2005 to 2009. Littlejohn returned to the Business Committee in 2015 and is amid her fourth consecutive term on the board. She serves as the committee’s Secretary-Treasurer.
Pace was first elected in 2004 and has been re-elected to the tribe’s Business Committee in nine consecutive elections. During his time on the Business Committee, Pace has worked diligently on the tribe’s behalf through many important tribal milestones, including the purchase of Camp 4 and the acquisition of Hotel Corque and Hadsten House.
Armenta first joined the board in 2016 following a special election. Prior to his ascension to the Business Committee, he served almost two decades on the Santa Ynez Gaming Commission where he, along with four other members, were responsible for providing regulatory oversight of the Chumash Casino Resort.
The tribe’s Chairman and Business Committee members each serve two-year terms and are responsible for establishing policies and overseeing the legal and business affairs of the tribe while providing for the economic well-being of its members.
In 1934, the U.S. Congress passed the Indian Reorganization Act and attached a model constitution and bylaws that are still followed by tribes today. Self-government is essential for tribal communities to protect their unique cultures and identities. And, in turn, tribal cultures and traditions provide a foundation upon which tribal communities are governed.
The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians owns and operates the Chumash Casino Resort, which is located on the tribe’s reservation on Highway 246 in Santa Ynez, California. As the largest employer in the Santa Ynez Valley, the tribe employs more than 1,600 residents of Santa Barbara County.