HIGHLAND, CA – Leaders of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians were elected to serve on the Tribal Council, the successor body to the former Business Committee, following the tribe’s 2023 election cycle. These elected officials will serve as the inaugural class under the tribe’s recently adopted constitution.
During a ceremony, four leaders were sworn into office: Vice Chairman Johnny Hernandez, Jr.; Secretary Audrey Martinez; First Governing Council Member Edward Duro; and a new position, the Culture Seat Member Karina Torres. The leaders will begin new terms in accordance with the tribe’s constitution. They will join incumbents Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena, Treasurer Latisha Prieto, and Second Governing Council Member Laurena Bolden.
New election processes and rules mandated by the tribe’s recently adopted constitution were implemented for the 2023 elections. Each member elected to the Tribal Council will now serve a four-year term instead of the two-year term called for by the previous Business Committee structure. Current Chairwoman Valbuena says the new constitution empowers the tribe to continue to exercise its inherent sovereignty.
“As California’s first people granted sovereignty from Our Creator, we have the inherent right to self-government, which ensures that our government structure is a reflection of our tribe,” said Valbuena. “Adopting our new constitution has been a long but fruitful journey and we are excited to embark on new beginnings for our people in order to maintain a vibrant and self-sustaining tribal community for generations to come.”
The Tribal Council is a seven-member body elected to oversee the tribe’s day-to-day operations, including stewarding social and economic development, carrying out the tribe’s laws and directives, protecting its governmental and business interests, and exercising the sovereignty of the tribe. Each Tribal Council member is elected by majority vote of the Governing Council, the main governing body of the tribe.