Jamul Indian Village – September Newsletter

Meet Vice Chairman Kenneth Meza

Kenneth Meza has been an integral part of the Jamul Indian Village Tribal leadership for four decades. After the Jamul Indian Village was formally recognized by the United States as an Indian tribe in 1981, Mr. Meza served as the first Tribal Chairman. He carried this title through 2004. He was also heavily involved in seeking a strategic partner to construct a gaming facility on the Tribe’s sovereign land.

Mr. Meza brings years of leadership experience to his current role as Vice Chairman. He envisions a self-sufficient Tribe with educational, healthcare, and cultural opportunities for generations to come. He is passionate about preserving the Kumeyaay language, and Mr. Meza is among a handful of Tribal members who speaks this native language. He continues to teach his children and grandchildren the songs of his ancestors in hopes of preserving Tribal traditions and customs.

Mr. Meza is also a military veteran, having served from 1963 to 1969 during the Vietnam War. He was inspired by his elders to fight for his country and proudly returned home having answered to the nation’s call for service.

He grew up in Jamul and proudly speaks of his parents Richard Meza, who was a part of the Kumeyaay’s Mishquish Clan, and Marie Patricia Cuerro, who was also Kumeyaay. Mr. Meza has six grown children, nine grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

Ken Meza_sm

Smudging Ceremony Honors Skilled Construction Worker

As reported by the press this month, an accident on the site of the Tribe’s casino project led to the death of an employee of C.W Driver on the morning of September 1, 2015. More than a skilled construction worker, this man was a friend to the Tribe.  The Tribal Council expressed its deepest condolences to his family and friends in an open letter the community. 

The weekend following the accident, Jamul Indian Village Vice Chairman Kenneth Meza led a smudging ceremony in honor of the worker who passed away.For centuries, many cultures have used smudging as a way to create a cleansing smoke bath that is used to purify the body, aura, energy, ceremonial space or any other space and personal articles. Smudging is performed to remove negative energy as well as for centering and healing.

As with all of the hardworking men and women who have contributed to the success of the Tribe’s economic development project, JIV Tribal Council is deeply grateful for their unwavering resolve and commitment.


New Hires Welcomed

Hollywood Casino Jamul welcomed two new employees to its senior leadership team in September – Dan Kennedy, Assistant General Manager, and Chris McGivern, Vice President of Human Resources.  They join General Manager Richard St. Jean as the first of approximately 1,000 employees!

Dan has been in the gaming business for 22 years, most recently as Vice President/Chief Financial Officer of Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races in West Virginia.  He and his wife Janet have moved to San Diego County while their son Andy studies Construction Engineering at Virginia Tech University.

Chris is coming back to East County following time spent in the gaming business across the country.  Chris played an integral role in the opening of Hollywood Casino at Kansas Speedway in 2012, and has worked in human resources in various places, including at Viejas. Chris, his wife Lissa, and son Quinn are thrilled to return to Southern California.

Richard, Dan, and Chris are working hard to prepare for the opening of Hollywood Casino Jamul, and will soon begin the process to identify, interview, and start hiring hundreds of residents of East County.  Be sure to sign up here to stay informed!

Native American Night at Petco Park

The Tribal members of the Jamul Indian Village were well represented at Native American Night at Petco Park.

Along with other tribes affiliated with the Southern California Tribal Chairman’s Association, Tribal members of the JIV were welcomed onto the field for special recognition. The night afforded Tribal members the opportunity to connect with members of the San Diego community and exposed Padres fans to Native American culture.

JIV Tribal members, especially those in the younger generation, are already looking forward to next year.

Acorns to Oaks Kicks off Drum Making Project

Acorns to Oaks, the organization founded by Tribal Chairwoman Erica Pinto and her brother, Executive Council Member Chris Pinto, kicked off a Native American drum making project in September to educate young Tribal members on their heritage and culture.    

Though not a cultural practice of the Kumeyaay in San Diego, drums have an important role in Native American history. They believe the beating of the drum represents the heartbeat of Mother Earth. Playing the drum connects you to the Earth and the Great Spirit.

“These activities are incredibly empowering for the younger generation,” said Chairwoman Pinto. “They are watching these objects come together to create a fully functional musical instrument and they had a hand in making it possible.”

Acorns to Oaks has completed the frame of the drum and hopes to finish it in the coming months.


About Acorns to Oaks

Acorns to Oaks is a community group developed by the Jamul Indian Village focused on the prevention of teen pregnancy, alcohol and drug use, and to educate their young members on their heritage and culture. This group also serves as a volunteer group and they plan to continue to work with many local organizations.

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