Soboba Youth Council steps up for the community

Members of the Soboba Tribal Youth Council and Soboba Fire Department spend time Thursday, May 23, cleaning the Soboba Cemetery grounds, while the youth placed flags at the gravesites of veterans who are buried there. Valley News/Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians photo

Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians

Special to Valley News

Members of the Soboba Tribal Youth Council have kept busy for the past several months participating in community events. The most recent activity found them preparing for and participating in the annual Memorial Day remembrance ceremony at the Soboba Cemetery.

About a dozen youths placed more than 50 flags at the gravesites of veterans who are buried at the cemetery Thursday, May 23. Many are relatives of the youths who were there that day, bringing another level of meaning to the task at hand. They were reminded how important to the community and to all those who served in the military to have them remembered in this way and that they should be proud of their involvement.

While there, the young men and women also tidied up the sites by removing debris and straightening overturned vases and more. Four members of the Soboba Fire Department took rakes and other tools to the parking area where guests would gather for the ceremony the following Monday, May 27. They raked up debris from shade trees and leveled out the surfaces.

Capt. Frank Martinez, who is part of the Wildland Urban Interface crew, made sure everyone had the proper tools to take care of the cleanup. Fire Apparatus Engineer Glenn Lindsey said the cemetery is a special project for the fire department, always keeping it clean and looking nice.

“It’s personal for me; I have family buried here and I want to make sure they are taken care of,” he said. “Me and my family come up here all the time to clean up and throw out dead flowers and things like that; it’s something you grow up doing around here.”

Soboba Tribal Youth Council membership is open to youth from 12-18 who are Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians Tribal members and those who are of Native American descent. Along with providing an understanding of the functions and responsibilities of Tribal government, participation provides leadership development and spiritual, mental, physical and social growth, as well as opportunities to attend cultural events. They host many fundraisers to cover expenses for the group’s activities.

In between the monthly in-person meetings, members and the Advisory Board stay connected through a group chat app where they can share information about upcoming events and make collective decisions. Officers are Chair Rhianna Salgado, 16, Vice Chair Raya Salgado, 14, Secretary Akwaalimay Resvaloso, 15, Treasurer Aniyah Brittian, 12, and Member-at-Large Nowaniiki Resvaloso, 13.

Advisory board members include Parks and Recreation Director Andy Silvas and other department staff, Tribal Council Vice Chair Geneva Mojado and Secretary Monica Herrera and parents of youth council members. The youth-led council, under the guidance of its advisory board, is affiliated with the United National Tribal Youth network, also known as UNITY.

The Soboba Tribal Youth Council constitution and bylaws outline the objectives of the group, which is to provide a collective voice and represent the Tribal youth in all matters that concern them; to serve as a means of mobilizing and coordinating the actions of the youth, other community members and organize them towards positive goals; to promote the development of future Tribal leaders and to complete community service projects and provide opportunities for the youth to interact with the community for fun and fellowship.

The Memorial Day ceremony began at dawn when Soboba Fire Capt. Gabe Herrera quickly raised the American flag to full-staff position and then slowly lowered it to half-staff to honor the fallen service men and women of this country. Veteran Richard VanDyke-Parker raised it back to full staff at 11 a.m. in recognition of living military veterans who served the country and it remained at full staff until sunset. VanDyke-Parker served in the U.S. Navy from 1975-1996. This action marked the end of the ceremony that was started with a prayer from the Rev. Earl Henley of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in San Jacinto. A morning mass had been held at the church before parishioners joined him at the veterans’ memorial, a permanent fixture at the east end of the cemetery that is “dedicated to the memory of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians and non-Tribal members who gave their all for us.” Henley also called for a moment of silence for the fallen.

After a blessing of the marker, members of Soboba Tribal Youth Council took turns reading names in memory and honor of those who served in the military. Alphabetically, honored Soboba Tribal veterans whose names were read during the roll call included M.J. Apapas,  Daniel Arres, Gordon Arres, Norbit Arres, Theodore P. Arres, Leonard Arrietta Sr., Ralph C. Arrietta, Robert Arrietta, Anderson Begay, Robert Bentiste, Larry C. Boniface, Paul Boniface, Gabriel Castello, Peter F. Castello, Gloria Cozart, Jessie M. Gilmore, Benny C. Helms Sr., Reginald P. Helms, Romaldo A. Helms, Martin Hurtado, Joe John Lala, Tiefielo Francis Lugo, Kenneth Mathers, Marcus E. Mojado, Danny Navarro, David Navarro, Paul A. Resvaloso, Prudencio Resvaloso, Ernest Salgado Sr., Richard Salgado Sr., Albert Silvas, Allynn Silvas, Daniel Silvas, Frank “Chico” Silvas, Joe “Jody” Silvas, Eloy Soza, Frank E. Soza, Michael Soza, William P. Soza, John Vincent Valdez, Carmel Paul Valenzuella and Louis Vivanco.

Non-Tribal veterans, whose names were included in the roll call, were Eugene F. Arenas, Tony D. Basquez Sr., Bruce Cozart, Miguel R. Briones, Refugio R. Garcia Jr., Orvin D. Gilmore, Foster Hurtado Sr., Andrew Jackson, Ben Largo, Arthur R. Lopez Sr., Mariano Steven Largo,  Leonard Lubo, Senon Lubo, Richard Patrick Macy, Fred Miranda Sr., Peter D. Morillo Sr., Pio Morillo,  James Paul Navarro,  Phillip Rodriguez, Mariano Tortez and James Walker.

Soboba Tribal Council Chair Isaiah Vivanco, who was invited to the microphone to say a few words, said it was great to see the turnout that seems to increase each year.

“I think it’s important that we come out and not only say thanks to our veterans but also to memorialize and remember those that have served and are no longer here with us,” Vivanco said. “It’s important to make sure that we pay that tribute to keep their history and names alive.”

He introduced fellow Tribal Council members Geneva Mojado, Mike Bentiste, Monica Herrera and Daniel Valdez.

“I also want to thank the fire department, Sports Complex staff Andy (Silvas) and Steve (Lopez) and youth council,” Vivanco said. “Our youth council has been working to make sure the flags get out to those that need remembrance, making sure that all the graves of all our lost heroes are marked and remembered. It’s important that we continue that tradition and I think with the youth learning where these markers are at, that tradition will be carried on and that’s something we need to be thankful for.”

He said that under the tutelage of elder Marian Chacon, the youth are learning how to continue the traditions that are so important to the people of Soboba. Guests at the Memorial Day event were invited to a brunch at the Soboba Sports Complex after the ceremony and enjoyed delicious food served by members of the Soboba Youth Council who hosted the meal.

Submitted Content