Noli Indian School 4-H Club program welcomes donation

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Members of the now-defunct Soboba Livestock Association present a check to Noli Indian School to use for its 4H program. From left, Noli’s Principal Donovan Post, Marian Chacon, Caroline Post, Carlene Masiel, Scott Cozart and Terry Post. Valley News/Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians photo

Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians

Special to Valley News

The now-defunct Soboba Livestock Association found a way to continue its original mission of education by donating funds to Noli Indian School’s 4-H Club program. Formed July 28, 1977, with about 30 members, the association’s founding officers were President Marion Silvas Sr., Vice President Norbit Arres, Secretary Donna Silvas and Treasurer Marian Chacon.

The association was authorized and sanctioned at a duly called Soboba tribal meeting Aug. 4, 1977, and certified by the Soboba Tribal Council consisting of Robert Salgado Sr., Lupe Boniface, Martina Boniface, Marion Silvas Sr. and Ernest Salgado Sr.

An active organization for about 15 years, the Soboba Livestock Association had as many as 50 members at its height. Each member had several cows which were kept in Indian Canyon. They each had their own brand and earmark and could easily identify which were their cows.

“My mom, Tillie Valdez, would say that is my cow and that belongs to so and so; to me they all looked alike,” Marian Chacon said.

She explained that about once or twice a year all members would participate in a roundup. The cows were rounded up in a corral, and the new calves would be branded and earmarked. Then a big barbecue would be held with all kinds of food as everyone brought something to share. Some cows were taken to the local auction in San Jacinto and sold. During hard times, these funds came in handy and helped families to survive, she said.

Always at the heart of the association was its dedication to education. It had been determined at the start that if the group was ever dissolved, any assets would be distributed to a nonprofit or group which operated for education. After being inactive for many years, and with most of the members having died, the remaining members met Oct. 28, 2021, to vote on where to donate the remaining funds. It resulted in a decision to donate $2,464 to the 4-H Club at Noli Indian School on the Soboba Reservation.

Participating members at that meeting were Scott Cozart, Terry Post, Carlene Masiel, Maurice “Buster” Mojado and Marian Chacon. Vice Chair Geneva Mojado represented the Soboba Tribal Council. Donovan Post, Noli’s principal, accepted the donation for the school.

Science teacher Jay Dagostino, who has taught at the school for 10 years, oversees the agriculture and 4-H Club programs. The last couple of years the 4-H Club has been inactive due to COVID-19 pandemic closures, but students still work with animals at the campus, currently raising pigs.

The shed and enclosure used for the pigs is constructed of reclaimed materials from the old stadium at The Oaks as the school is always looking for ways to fund their projects, which is why the donation was especially welcomed, Dagostino said.

“I love activities but for now we are just doing things here and not taking any field trips or anything,” Dagostino said. “Just to be cautious we are going to wait until things are more normalized.”

Post said he recalled the fun of all the families getting together for the roundups when he was a young boy. He said he was grateful that the Soboba Livestock Association reached out with this donation to the school.

“The idea of being able to add cattle is something the program has been looking forward to for the last six or seven years,” he said. “This donation will help us make that happen.”