NEWS & INFORMATION
Buena Vista Rancheria Environmental Resources
The Buena Vista Rancheria Environmental Resources Department’s mission is to preserve, protect and enhance ecosystems, human health and cultural resources on Tribal land for the tribe, community, and future generations through pollution prevention, restoration, community education and partnerships.
The Buena Vista Rancheria Environmental Resources Department envisions a safe, healthy and sustainable environment for tribal members to dwell, work, recreate, and subsist on. Cultural resources, air, water, soil, fish, and wildlife are all important elements of our environment and will be protected and preserved for future generations. In addition, the Buena Vista Rancheria Environmental Resources Department will share a vision with the tribal community to foster a greater appreciation and understanding for cultural resources and tribal heritage amongst Indians and non-Indians alike. The tribal community and BVR staff will be an integral part of departmental activities, playing an instrumental role in educating the general public about the value of Me-Wuk culture. The Tribe will work as partners with individuals, organizations, tribes, governments, and businesses to fulfill our tribal’s mission.”
Environmental Resource Department Programs
General Assistance Program
Buena Vista Rancheria implements the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program among others. In 1992, Congress passed the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program Act which authorizes the EPA to provide General Assistance Program (GAP) grants to tribal governments and intertribal consortia for planning, developing, and establishing environmental protection programs in Indian Country, and developing and implementing solid and hazardous waste programs on tribal lands.
The GAP grant assists Buena Vista Rancheria to develop the capacity to manage the Tribes environmental protection programs and to develop and implement other relevant programs for the Tribe.
Department of Energy: Energy Efficiency Program
Buena Vista Rancheria is implementing the Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant (EECBG). Through the grant the Tribe will be able to identify energy efficiency and energy conservation opportunities and priorities; establish long term energy use goals; identify strategies to achieve these goals, through investments and encouraging behavioral changes to increase energy efficiency and conservation, and a renewable energy resource assessment. In addition, the program aims to build the capacity of staff through training in the field of energy and building performance evaluation. Another component for this program is education and outreach to community members through community events organized by the Tribe.
Clean Water Act
Buena Vista Rancheria also implements the U.S. EPA Clean Water Act Program which aims at promoting clean and safe water on the Tribal land. The priority is developing a Quality Assurance Program Plan and a water monitoring plan.
Cultural Resources Protection and Preservatio
Buena Vista Rancheria seeks to protect and sustainably manage the Cultural resources and Environmental resources on the Tribal lands comprised of 67 acres, 81 acres and 56 acres respectively. This is demonstrated by the Tribes efforts to establish and build capacity of the Tribal Native American Monitors through relevant training. In addition, the Tribe seeks to preserve the integrity of tribal lands. The Tribe has in the recent past organized trainings for cultural monitors drawn from different Native American Tribes of California.
Education and outreach
Major changes can only take place through changing people’s behavior and people can only change if they are informed about options available. Sound management and environmental practices will help ensure the future of Tribal lands. The Tribe disseminates information through various media. At the community events, relevant handouts and literature are handed to the attendees. There is a constant information exchange through staff meetings, teleconference and webinars.
Buena Vista Cultural Monitors
Ka’awe’opu Joseph Byron. Kanni he ka’inniiko tuppe yowaamu ‘oolok hawento. I am a citizen of the Round Valley Indian Tribes and I am Coast Miwok, Pomo, and Yuki. It has always been in my being, both physically and spiritually, to preserve our culture whether it’s our ceremonies, language or other cultural aspects. I did not grow up hearing our language spoken, but when I became a teenager, I began having dreams where I was hearing Elders speak to me in our language. I was told during this dream time I will learn our languages.
In 2004 I was given the opportunity to begin working with the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria on preserving and revitalizing our Coast Miwok language. I continued working on language preservation and revitalization in our Native communities and worked with my 92 year old great-great-Uncle learning the Southern dialect of our Pomo language. Through the love I have for preserving and protecting our culture I connected with the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians and began learning about cultural monitoring in 2009. Since then I have helped maintain the Dance Arbor and cultural areas of Buena Vista Rancheria. This year I visited the Grandad Archaeological Site in Mariposa, participating in cultural monitoring activities as a member of Buena Vista Rancheria’s Cultural Monitoring staff.
George Gurion is a member of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians. George grew up in a traditional community and has been involved with Miwok culture his whole life. George started working in the community at 16 years of age. His first job was a grounds keeper position at the local community cemetery. Afterwards, George worked with the Ione Caltrans Office for two years. George then took a position in a local winery and after working at the winery George worked at RV park for a few years.
For the past five years George has worked as a Cultural Monitor for the Ione Band of Miwok Indians and for the Buena Vista Band of Me-Wuk Indians as well. George, (along with Buena Vista Rancheria’s other Cultural Monitors) helped build Buena Vista Rancheria’s Dance Arbor for
community dances and gatherings. George is proud of his Miwok and Paiute ancestry and to be connected to “all his relations”.
Richard Ragudo is a Cultural Monitor and Tribal Historic Preservation Office Advisory Board member for Buena Vista Rancheria. Richard is a respected Native American dancer and spiritual leader. Richard participated in sun dance for 5 years.
He is committed to community spiritual affairs. In the past,
Richard has been bestowed with the responsibility of carrying
the ceremonial pipes of the Lakota people as well as participating in the Inipi (sweat lodge) of the Lakota people.
He was a spiritual adviser at DQ University in Davis, California. He has been a spiritual leader at Tule River Indian Reservation. He has been a traditional dancer and spiritual leader at Shingle Springs Rancheria for the last 7 years. He was one of the trainees at the Cultural Monitoring training that was organized by Buena Vista Rancheria in February 2010. He has assisted in initiating and continuing ceremonies for Buena Vista Rancheria for the past six years.
Pete is a member of the California Valley Miwok Tribe (formally known as Sheep Ranch Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians). Pete has been involved in traditional ceremonies his whole life. He is a singer, dancer, and regalia maker for his tribe. Along with other Cultural Monitors, Pete has helped revitalize ceremonies at Buena Vista Rancheria. Pete also assisted in the construction of the Dance Arbor at Buena Vista Rancheria. Pete has worked as a Cultural Monitor for the California Valley Miwok Tribe and Buena Vista Rancheria for the past two years. Before becoming a Cultural Monitor Pete consulted his elders and received their blessings to perform cultural monitoring
Leon Rofé is a Nomtipom Wintu Indian. His family’s traditional territory is in the Trinity area of Northern California. His ancestral village site is at Hay Gulch. Leon’s great-Grandfather is Theodore Towendolly. Leon participated in traditional spring and fall ceremonies with the Winnemem Wintu for five years. Leon has assisted Sacramento Valley and Eldorado Hills Miwok in the protection and preservation of their cultural sites when dealing with city, county, Caltrans and other state agencies. He worked as Cultural Monitor (on behalf of the United Auburn Indian Community) during the Natomas Levee Improvement Project in 2008 and 2009. Leon has a technical background, having worked in the fields of agriculture and medicine. Currently he is the Water Resources Technician for Buena Vista Rancheria and helps Buena Vista’s Environmental Department manage their water program. He provides auxiliary support to Buena Vista Rancheria’s Cultural Resources Department.
Antonio Ruiz Jr.
Antonio Ruiz is a member of the Wilton Miwok Rancheria and a Cultural Monitor for Buena Vista Rancheria. Antonio worked as a cultural monitor on a site in Calaveras County that was part of the Highway 4 Bypass Project. The site was rich in artifacts and Antonio gained a wealth of knowledge and experience in cultural monitoring. He has always been interested in cultural monitoring because of his desire to protect cultural sites and because of the shortage of Native people available to perform this important duty. Uncle Leland Daniels shared his own cultural monitoring experience with Antonio, recounting the history and archaeological findings of the sites that he worked on.
Antonio is a traditional Miwok dancer that has been dancing and singing in the Roundhouse since 16 years of age. He helped revitalize the cultural practices at the Buena Vista Rancheria dance arbor. Antonio also helps maintain the cultural areas of Buena Vista Rancheria between events. He travels around the country with a group known as Savage Family empowering Native people to prevent drug and alcohol abuse, gang violence and suicide. Antonio recently returned from Canada after visiting First Nations for two months.
Buena Vista Rancheria
DR. ROSELYNN LWENYA
Environmental Resource Director, THPO
Dr. Roselynn Lwenya is an Environmental specialist with strong academic background and considerable experience in Environmental planning, Gender mainstreaming issues, Action Oriented Research and development. Roselynn has worked for Tule River Indian Reservation and North Fork Rancheria in her capacity as Natural Resources Director and Environmental Director respectively. Currently, Roselynn is the Environmental Resources Director for Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of California. She is implementing U.S. EPA, General Assistance Program (GAP) and Clean Water Act (CWA) Section 106 program ; Department of Energy- Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant among others. Roselynn’s vision is to continue fostering key partnerships with Native American Tribes, public and private organizations to develop concerted efforts to promote sustainable use of resources to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that the needs can be met not only in the present, but also for future generations. Roselynn has coordinated the training of Cultural Resources Monitors for both Buena Vista Rancheria and North Fork Rancheria.
Before coming to America, Roselynn worked with both local and International organizations in Africa including, United Nations Development Program (UNDP); The Royal Netherlands Embassy/Kenya on the Arid and Semi Arid lands Program; Kenya Marine Fisheries Research Institute; Government of Kenya; Action AID International Poverty Alleviation program among others. While working in Africa, Roselynn participated in projects that were aimed at environmental protection; securing greater gender equity and women’s empowerment; poverty eradication; strengthening the capacities of the disadvantaged and marginalized people to meet their basic needs and demand accountability from development partners.
Roselynn was born in Kenya, Africa and belongs to the Luyhia Tribe. While growing up, there was a common myth that women could not study the “hard” disciplines like the men. Roselynn was the only woman who graduated with a PhD from School of Environmental Studies (Planning and Human Ecology division) in 2002. Coming from a rich traditional heritage of strong belief systems, customs and practices maintained by social interaction, Roselynn has learnt to respect other people’s culture and feels quite at home working with Native American Tribes.