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Race & Social Justice

American Indian Heritage Month Local Hero Stan Rodriguez

Portrait of Stanley Rodriguez, Oct. 7, 2015.
Ron Stein
Portrait of Stanley Rodriguez, Oct. 7, 2015.

American Indian Heritage Month 2015 Honoree

He’s a U.S. Navy veteran, a Native linguist, an inspired musical can rattler, devout educator and student of local Native culture. Meet Stan Rodriguez, 2015 American Indian Heritage Month Local Hero.

In nominating him for this honor, Judy Alvarez of Descanso wrote, “Stan has touched the lives of so many of us, tribal and non-tribal alike, in his love of teaching to all of us his Kumeyaay culture through his language, bird singing, e'waa (shelter) building, tool making ...and the list goes on and on.” Alvarez continued, “It has always amazed me how Stan can share so much of himself, his knowledge, his sense of humor, his family, his culture from one venue to another day in and day out. I am constantly in awe and exhausted just trying to keep up with him on Facebook as he goes through a normal day. I consider Stan my friend, my hero, my mentor, which he is to so many others also. That is why we all call him Stan the Man!”

M. Eloise Battle of San Diego also nominated Stan for the honor. Battle wrote, “Stanley Rodriguez is a man on the go. He seems to be everywhere and doing so much. We stage Baskets & Botany each year in October, an annual cultural Kumeyaay event at the Tecolote Nature Center. Stan has participated in Baskets & Botany since 2001. He has told stories, shared Kumeyaay games, thatched our wa (the traditional Kumeyaay shelter).... He is deeply involved in teaching the younger generation about their legacy and language.... As a teacher and advocate for the Kumeyaay culture and traditions, he is outstanding and most deserving to be recognized as a Local Hero by the Union Bank and KPBS.”

See Stanley in the documentary, "KPBS Presents: First People — Kumeyaay."

Rodriguez fills several advising and teaching roles in the San Diego and Native Kumeyaay communities. He’s a member of the Santa Ysabel Band of the Iipay Nation, which aims to improve lives for all Iipay through economic development and cultural preservation. Rodriguez also sits on the board of a group whose vision is to strengthen language and cultural revitalization, known as the Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival. Additionally, he's a board member of Kumeyaay Community College, a school with a special focus on Kumeyaay history and culture, but also provides computer courses. The college is open to Native and non-Native students.

Rodriguez does this work all in an effort to bring Native American culture to any willing to learn.

In response to his nomination, Rodriguez said, "I was ecstatic. I didn't expect it."

See past American Indian Heritage Month honorees here.

Meet fellow 2015 honoree Vickie Gambala.

Corrected: September 28, 2022 at 3:44 AM PDT
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