Reginald “Reggie” Pagaling, a Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians tribal elder, was recently appointed to the California Native American Heritage Commission.

Pagaling was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown on March 28 and sworn in by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Deborah Sanchez last Saturday. More than 100 friends and family gathered to celebrate Pagaling’s swearing-in ceremony on West Beach in Santa Barbara.

“The honor and privilege to serve on the Native American Heritage Commission is both humbling and exciting,” Pagaling said. “These are exciting and challenging times, and I’m proud to represent the Chumash tribe as we stride into the future. I look forward to being a contributing member and seeking the wisdom of existing commissioners to succeed at this endeavor.”

Pagaling, 59, is a member of the Chumash Maritime Association and has devoted much of his time to restoring the tribe’s ancient maritime culture. Pagaling has been instrumental in the building of several tomols (traditional Chumash plank canoes) and has co-organized the annual tomol crossing of the Santa Barbara Channel since its inception in 2001. Pagaling also serves on the Santa Barbara County Local Community Benefit Committee and was elected chairman of the committee in 2010.

The nine-member Native American Heritage Commission was established in 1976 to preserve and protect tribal burial grounds from vandalism and destruction. Commissioners work closely with the public, developers, local and federal agencies, educational institutions and California Native Americans to provide advice and assistance toward the protection and preservation of Native American cultural resources.

“Reggie Pagaling is an excellent choice to serve on the California Native American Heritage Commission,” said Vincent Armenta, tribal chairman for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians. “He is extremely interested in our tribe’s cultural preservation efforts and has played an integral part in helping restore the Chumash culture.”

Pagaling is the third tribal member or descendant of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians to be awarded a state post this year. In January, Dr. Nicolasa “Niki” Sandoval, was appointed by Gov. Brown to the California Board of Education and Kathleen Marshall was reappointed by State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson to the American Indian Education Oversight Committee.

The Santa Ynez Reservation is located in Santa Barbara County and was established and officially recognized by the federal government on Dec. 27, 1901. The tribe is a self-governing tribal sovereign nation that follows the laws set forth in the tribe’s constitution, which is similar in text to the U.S. Constitution and the California Constitution.

The tribe owns and operates the Chumash Casino Resort, Hotel Corque and Root 246 in the nearby town of Solvang, and two gas stations in Santa Ynez. Click here for more information on the tribe.

— Hildy Medina represents the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.