Mike Lopez

Mike Lopez

Mike Lopez, a member of the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ business committee, has been appointed to the California Nations Indian Gaming Association’s executive board.

Lopez, 49, was unanimously elected by the Central District tribes to serve a two-year term as the Central District at-large member of the CNIGA Executive Committee.

The position became vacant in December when James Siva from the Morongo Band of Mission Indians was elected vice chairman of the committee.

CNIGA, which was formed in 1988, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to protecting tribal sovereignty and Indian gaming on federally recognized Indian lands. The organization is composed of 38 federally recognized tribal governments, including the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.

CNIGA acts as a planning and coordinating agency for legislative, policy, legal and communications efforts on behalf of its members, and serves as an industry forum for information and resources.

“It’s an honor to join the board of an organization that has made such a positive impact on California tribes,” Lopez said. “I’m looking forward to bringing my experience to the table and helping CNIGA in its mission to ensure Indian gaming continues to flourish and support tribes throughout the state.”

Lopez was elected to the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians’ Business Committee in 2015 after serving nearly a decade as chairman of the Santa Ynez Gaming Commission. He was recently elected to his third two-year term on the business committee.

Lopez also serves as a representative for the tribe’s education board as well as a board member for the United Boys & Girls Clubs of Santa Barbara County.

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians is in Santa Barbara County.  Its reservation was established and officially recognized by the federal government in 1901. Today, the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians remains the only federally recognized Chumash tribe in the nation.

— Veronica V. Sandoval for the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians.