Gary Walker has been named the new tribal chairman of the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians Tribal Council for 2017.
This announcement concludes the 2016 tribal elections process, begun in November 2016 and overseen in accordance with the tribe’s statutes and procedures. The new North Fork Rancheria Tribal Council provides consistent, proven experience and leadership as all of its members have previously served on the Council, officials said.
Walker, who has lived in North Fork for 32 years and before that in Auberry for 20 years, has been married for 33 years and has five daughters who were all well known in softball and soccer.
He is a graduate of Sierra High School, and started logging when he was 18 years old. He later went into biomass chipping giving the materials to co-generation plants.
He joined the construction union where her worked for the past 15 years.
“I decided to start devoting my time to our Native people, where I first sat on the Indian Housing Authority board for three years as a commissioner, and another three years as chair on the housing board,” Walker said. “My family has been around the North Fork Mountain Area for a very long time. The Walkers Grade was named after my fathers side of the family, and my mothers side is known for their basket weaving.”
Other appointed tribal leaders include:
☆ Elaine Bethel-Fink – Vice Tribal Chairwoman: Bethel-Fink has served on the tribal council since May 2002, serving many years as the tribal chairperson.
In 2014, she was appointed as California’s primary tribal representative on the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary’s Tribal Advisory Committee on medical matters.
Before becoming involved in tribal government, Elaine worked in Indian gaming for eight years beginning with Table Mountain Casino in Friant. She then was employed as director/manager of the video (slot) department in Jackson for the Jackson Rancheria Casino and later returned to Table Mountain in that same role.
She served on the board of the Sierra Mono Museum in North Fork as well as being employed there as the director/curator. Bethel-Fink is a lifelong resident of North Fork, where she has many relatives, including children, grandchildren, siblings, and mother Gertrude Davis, 90, a fluent speaker of the Mono language.
☆ Katrina Guitierez – Secretary: Guitierez was first elected to the tribal council of the North Fork Rancheria in November 2006 and re-elected in 2013 and 2016, serving as tribal secretary since early 2007.
Preceding her elected position, Guitierez has been involved in various aspects of tribal gaming since 1999 with a specific focus on the tribal government regulatory role within tribal gaming. She worked as a surveillance agent and then was promoted to manager after one year at the Big Sandy Rancheria.
She has also worked for the Picayune Rancheria, first as a background agent then as compliance manager for nearly four years. Guitierrez has lived in North Fork nearly all of her life and graduated from North Fork Elementary School and Willow Creek/Sierra High School.
She is one of the historical citizens of the tribe being one of the descendants of her great-grandmother, Susan Johnson and she is also of Iiapy Nation of Santa Ysabel heritage. She has four sons and is the daughter of Terry Coleman Sr. and Barbara Works, both of whom are citizens of North Fork Rancheria, and has 11 siblings.
☆ Edward Polkenhorn – Council Member: 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 tribal treasurer.
Maryann McGovran is the tribal council’s treasurer for 2017.
All inquiries relating to the tribal council and/or tribal election can be sent to Walker at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call (559) 877-5532 - or Guitierez at email@example.com, (559) 877-5530. Inquiries relating to external community relations can be directed to the NFR Public Affairs Director Charles Banks-Altekruse at firstname.lastname@example.org, (510) 913-3669.
About the North Fork Rancheria
The North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians is a federally recognized Native American tribe with nearly 2,000 tribal citizens and government offices in Madera County. 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 and opportunity. The tribe leverages its limited federal grant funding to operate numerous tribal programs. Details: www.NorthForkRancheria.com.
North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians