News From Native California Volume 31, Issue 3 - Page 23

Ron’s artistic interests come from his relatives, so many of whom created stunning cultural objects. His maternal great-grandfather John Riley was a noted tool maker who created plates, bowls, and utensils from shale, soapstone, and manzanita. His parents were highly skilled and well- known basketmakers. Ron’s brothers Tom and Dillon carved soapstone. For his own part, at age ten, Ron made his first yarn hatband, which he sold to Mono Chief Sam Pomona for seventy-five cents. Yarn braiding led to beadwork, including finely beaded hatbands, wristbands, and some beaded collars. Next came the creation of abalone pendants and soapstone bead necklaces. When Ron was about twelve or thirteen years old, Thomas and Dillon taught him soapstone carving. Today, Ron’s soapstone carvings and jewelry pieces can be found all over the world, including Japan, Denmark, and Germany. In 1983, the same year Ron started working for the Fresno Unified School District, he also realized his dream of becom- ing a leader when he was unanimously chosen chair of the North Fork Mono Tribe, a state-recognized tribe, a position he has held ever since. Ron is also a lifetime member of the Sierra Mono Indian Museum, a private 501(c)3 nonprofit institution governed by a board of directors since May 9, 1966. Ron served on the board from 1973 to 1998, including one year as its president. One of Ron’s proudest achievements is the elimination of alcohol from Sierra Mono Museum and North Fork Mono Tribe events, including dances and powwows. Like so many others before him, in his younger days Ron flirted with alcohol and drug use. But as a clean-up man at cultural events, he witnessed the negative impacts of alcohol-induced blackouts and fights, which he had to break up on more than one occasion. The year Ron was elected chair, he decided to eliminate alcohol consumption from one of five major cultural fundraising events each year. Despite vociferous pushback from some, Ron had support from others, including some of his fellow veterans. At about the same time, Ron worked with other Native people to start an alcohol-free New Year’s Eve powwow in the Fresno region. Although this powwow started small, within three or four years it had grown large enough to require a committee to plan and run it. Now known as the New Year’s Eve Red Road Powwow, it remains an important community event. As word began to spread about Ron’s early, ultimately successful efforts to transition to alcohol-free events, he began to receive encouraging messages of support from all over the West. Looking back on the struggles that preceded this success, Ron observed, “It made me proud to see what we founded and initiated, and what it’s done for our people now.” Another achievement: the nearly two thousand hours of volunteer service that Ron has been able to contribute each year, in particular as part of “five collaborative and tribal forums enhancing the ecological environment, watersheds, and cultural resources of forests, parks, and tribal lands,” which includes work with Stanford University around cul- tural burning. The latter has i 6VFVB7&727VGW&6&Ч&F2vFFR'GRVRbW7G&ƖF266G#&6W'fVB2fFVB&W6VFW"f"76@W7G&ƖFVfW'6G6&W'&FR6VG'( 0V7B67BBFRVfW'6GbvW7FW&W7G&ƖW'FFRvW7B67B766FVBG&FVWB&VR&WpVBVBF7GVr67W'&V6^( GFR'GVGFVWB&'F7BVBFW''vB6R7GVFV@&WBW&6F6Vg2Bv&VƖWfVBFBRFRbFW6R6Vg2vVBG&fVFWrVBBFWvVBVWBFW''&W6VFVB&vGW&VBWBF&RF@6VbvFv"6V"&GW&vgFVBFW''vFB6W"RBFRvF&VBvFRB&6&GFW6RFW6vR6G&FVBFFW''&VBB&6&66FR'6VRV6RFRFW6v2&F&V7G2GW&VBWBF&RfW'66RF6FFW6vG&FF&W6RBWrVBW6WVF@FW''VVB'VBgFW"FR6旦FbFRVBbFR'Ff&"V( FRV^( ҒG66Rg&vVFFfW&w&rbw&76G2BVFw2BFWfVV@7FfFW2BFR7W&W76bV7VGW&'W&p&VvW2'FRR2f&W7B6W'f6RFRV&ǒ2FR@7&V6vǒFff7VBf"FRVF6FVRFV"7VGW&G&FF2&W76RFFW6R6vW2&BFR'Ff&G&&R&VvFv&vFfVFW&B7FFRvVЦ6W2FFV6FV&WBFR6FfR&VVfG2FB@vFƖfRVFBvV&V~( FBGW&FV^( F`FR&VG&GV7Fb6W7G&7VGW&'W&rB&VFV@B&W7F&F&7F6W2खFR'Ff&G&&RFFVBVGV6FBB&W7F&Fv&6VFr6VFvR&VB&W7F&Fv&g&W66VGFFVvF&6Vv67W'fW6GV7FVB'&&fFRBV"&6FP6FRb6W7G&fvRFRG&&R26&VVffV@7VGW&'W&r66R#&BFRG&&RfR&VV767FVBF2v&'G"&VBFFW&BFRFPF7F&7GVFVBBf7VGV&W"B&W66GB6VvRrFR&VVf6&W7VG2BFR6FW2bFW6R@&W7F&F&V7G2&RFRVƖ֖FbF&VRG&VR@6'V"&6FW27&V6RFRVFb&V2@FW"G2BFR66֗FBV6VVBbvFƖfRख#2FR'Ff&G&&RV&&VBG2f'7@VFr&W7F&F&V7B'FW'6vFFRf&W7@6W'f6RB7&RfW&"FF2&W7F&F&V7BFP7&rB7&RfWB6V6VB'Vrf"6RGvVG5"r")k#