The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians has announced two tribal citizens, Edward Polkenhorn II, and Gary Walker, have recently been elected to the tribal council.
Polkenhorn and Walker will join long-time council members Maryann McGovran, Elaine Bethel-Fink, and Katrina Guitierez, who were not up for re-election this election cycle.
After the election, the council’s first order of business was to select new officers. Long-time Vice Chair McGovran has assumed the position of tribal chairperson, switching positions with long-time Chairperson Bethel-Fink, who is now new council vice chair. Guitierez continues her service as the tribal secretary.
McGovran, Bethel-Fink, and Guitierez collectively bring more than 30 years of leadership experience guiding the tribe.
“The new tribal council reflects the North Fork Rancheria’s history of balancing leadership stability and continuity with new ideas and energy,” said McGovran. “We are excited to build upon the successes we’ve had as a tribe in developing programs and projects that benefit our citizens, neighbors and community – and are ever grateful for the contributions of past tribal leaders who guided us on our path forward.”
Polkenhorn was born at home on his family’s ranch in North Fork to Elizabeth Polkenhorn, a traditional Mono Indian basket weaver and story teller who cooked acorn and was a life-time member of the Sierra Mono Museum in North Fork.
After working in the logging industry for nearly 42 years, including stints with American Forest Products Corporation and Georgia Pacific, Polkenhorn became an avid sailor, earning his captain’s license from the US Coast Guard and sailing certification from the American Sailing Association.
He taught sailing and delivered sailboats up and down the west coast of the United States and Mexico before deciding to return to his ancestral home and serve his tribe. He has been married to his wife, Earlinda, for 50 years and has two sons and six grandsons.
“Having been away for some 31 years, I’m eager to return and once again serve my tribe and people,” said Polkenhorn, who currently serves as a commissioner on the North Fork Rancheria Indian Housing Authority, and will serve as treasurer of the council.
Walker is a long-time resident of the area, having lived in North Fork for 32 years, and before that in nearby Auberry for 20 years. His family have been residents of the Mountain Area for many years, with well-known “Walkers Grade” on North Fork Road (200), named for his father’s side of the family. His mother’s side of the family is known for their basket weaving.
After graduating from Sierra High School in Tollhouse, Walker started his logging career when he was 18-years-old, before moving to the biomass chipping business that provides materials to co-generation plants.
“After 15 years with the construction union, I wanted to devote more time and energy to our native people,” said Walker who has served for six years as a commissioner for the tribe’s Indian Housing Authority, three years as chairman. He is the father of five daughters, all known in the area for their softball and soccer achievements.
Walker joins the council as a member-at-large.
“As Ed and Gary join the tribal council, the tribe owes a huge debt of gratitude for the visionary and compassionate leadership provided by outgoing council members Bonnie Hale and Patrick Beihn,” said McGovran. “The tribe is in a better place today then it was five years ago, and in five years will be in an even better place than today because of the dedication and hard work of these leaders.”
The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is a federally recognized Native American tribe with nearly 2,000 tribal citizens with government offices in North Fork. Since the restoration of its federally recognized status in 1983, the tribe has established modern tribal governing institutions to improve the lives of its tribal citizens, many of whom have limited access to basic housing, healthcare, business, employment, and educational services. The tribe leverages its limited federal grant funding to operate numerous tribal programs.
- North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians