First Native American Appointed to the California State Board of Education

Gale Courey Toensing
1/18/11

HIGHLAND, Calif. – James Ramos, the chairman of the San Manuel Band of Serrana Mission Indians, has been appointed to the California State Board of Education by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Ramos is the first California Native American to be appointed to the board.

“The appointment of Chairman Ramos signifies an important milestone for California tribal people,” said Daniel J. Tucker, Chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association. “I am hopeful that this is the beginning of increased involvement by tribal people in these important local, state and federal positions.”

The California Nations Indian Gaming Association is a non-profit association comprised of 24 federally recognized tribal governments dedicated to the protection of tribal sovereignty and the right of tribes to have gaming on Indian lands.

The State Board of Education is the governing and policy-making body of the California Department of Education. The Board sets state-wide, K-12 education policy in areas of standards, instructional materials, assessment, and accountability.

“I find it an honor to be appointed by Governor Brown to this prestigious board and will work hard to ensure a quality education is accessible for all Californians,” Ramos said.

Ramos’ appointment was announced on the San Manuel web site on Jan. 11 and he was sworn in the following day in Sacramento.

Ramos has served as the chairman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians for the last three years. He has an additional year remaining in his term. He was recently re-elected to a second term on the San Bernardino Community College Board of Trustees, where he was the top vote getter. Ramos was appointed by Gov Schwarzenegger in January 2008 to the Native American Heritage Commission, for which he currently serves as chairman.

The San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians is a federally recognized American Indian tribe located near the city of Highland, Calif. . The nation’s reservation is just over 800 acres in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains. The Serrano Indians are the indigenous people of the San Bernardino highlands, passes, valleys and mountains who share a common language and culture. San Manuel’s reservation was established in 1891 and recognized as a sovereign nation with the right of self-government.

In the mid-1980s, the San Manuel Band of Serrano Mission Indians invested in a high-stakes bingo operation. The band was enormously successful and in 1994 expanded to include a 100,000 square foot casino including a card room and slot machines.

Another expansion opened in January 2005 and has become one of the most successful casino destinations in the country, employing more than 3,000 people and generating hundreds of millions of dollars a year in revenue.

Each year the San Manuel nation donates tens of millions of dollars to charitable organizations.

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