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Local Heroes: Native American Heritage Month

KPBS Celebrates Diversity

Gracia Molina Enriquez de Pick - Hispanic Heritage Honoree

Every year, KPBS recognizes heroes in San Diego's diverse communities. It's part of our ongoing commitment to diversity, and made possible through our long-standing partnership with Union Bank.

Nominate a Hero Now

Local Hero Daniel Calac, MD, Addresses Health in American Indian Community

American Indian Heritage Month 2014 Honoree

Nov. 4
By Monica Medina
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As a child growing up on the Pauma Indian Reservation, Daniel Calac, M.D., remembers the dirt. Literally.

Educator Roy Cook selected as 2014 American Indian Heritage Month Local Hero

American Indian Heritage Month 2014 Honoree

Oct. 29
By Monica Medina
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He is a tribal writer, self-published author, journalist, and a Native singer and American Indian artist. He’s also an educator, one who carries the teachings of his elders and passes them on to the next generation. Meet Roy Cook, a 2014 American Indian Heritage Month Local Hero.

Rose-Margaret Orrantia Finds Purpose in Helping American Indian Foster Youth

American Indian Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

Oct. 29
By Monica Medina
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Rose-Margaret Orrantia has spent a lifetime working to help American Indian children in the foster care system. After all, helping children is where her heart has led her. And helping to place these children in American Indian homes has been her way of giving back to her community and ensuring its future.

Kumeyaay Elder Jane Dumas Keeps Language & Plant Lore Alive

American Indian Heritage Month 2013 Honoree

Oct. 29
By Monica Medina
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On a bright and clear weekend morning in early October, there’s a flutter of activity at San Diego’s Tecolote Nature Center as staff get ready for an annual family activity, “Baskets and Botany.” The one-day event, which has been held there since the mid-'90s, is a day for families to share the environmental and cultural connections of Tecolote Canyon.

Why Patricia A. Dixon Never Stops Learning

Native American Heritage Month: 2012 Honoree

Oct. 2
By Monica Medina
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This Thanksgiving, Professor Patricia A. Dixon has much to be thankful for. “I think I was lucky. I had great parents, and good teachers throughout my life. I had far more good teachers than bad teachers. I was encouraged to read and to dream and I was taught to work hard.” And, though she does plan on celebrating Thanksgiving with her family this week, there’s one aspect about the holiday that’s off the table.

Leroy Elliott

Native American Heritage Month: 2012 Honoree

Oct. 2
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Mr. Leroy Elliott is a tribal elder who has served his Native American tribe as their Chairman for the past 14 years. His tribe, the Manzanita Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, is an economically disadvantaged sovereign government assigned to reservation land in a remote area of the San Diego County backcountry. In spite of these challenges, Chairman Elliott actively seeks and has secured revenue opportunities that provided much needed government services and job opportunities. Elliott is the Treasurer and a long standing Board member for the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association; the Chairman of the Southern California Indian Health Clinic; and a volunteer Assistant Fire Marshall for the Campo Fire department.

Brandie Taylor

Native American Heritage Month: 2011 Honoree

Nov. 1

Brandie Taylor is the vice chairwoman of the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, an Indian tribe in Northern San Diego County. Ms. Taylor has dedicated her life to advocating for tribal rights, preservation of tribal culture, improvement of health and safety of native peoples, and she is an avid supporter of higher education for youth. Ms. Taylor’s many accomplishments include securing funding for Iipay Nation’s Tribal Social Services, which handles child dependency cases and culturally focused assistance for family preservation.

Michelle M. Parada

Native American Heritage Month: 2011 Honoree

Nov. 1

Michelle M. Parada is the co-founder and lead teacher of All Tribes American Indian Charter School. Since 2001, All Tribes Charter School has provided culturally focused assistance to reduce the dropout rates among Native American students in San Diego by graduating 46 high school seniors to date. Ms. Parada has been a recipient of numerous honors and awards, including the 2010 Educator of the Year from the National Indian Education Association and San Diego’s 10News Leadership Award.

Dwight Kala Lomayesva, III

American Indian Heritage Month: 2010 Honoree

Oct. 18

Dwight Lomayesva, III , a member of the Hopi tribe of Arizona, has tirelessly served the local San Diego American Indian Community for more than 20 years.

Harry Paul Cuero Jr.

American Indian Heritage Month: 2010 Honoree

Oct. 18

Harry Paul Cuero Jr.’s role as a tribal activist began at the age of 19 as he became involved in many aspects of the governmental process including serving as treasurer of the Campo Band of Kumeyaay Nation, becoming its cultural director in 2001, and in 2004, becoming the chairman and serving for four years. He is currently a member of Campo’s Executive Committee.