89. Lynn “Nay” Valbuena
Lynn Valbuena, the chairwoman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the head of the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations, is at the epicenter of tribal policy and politics. Valbuena, the great-great-granddaughter of Yuhaaviatam tribal leader Santos Manuel, leads a major casino-owning tribe and has been highly visible in recent years during the political debate over the legalization and regulation of online gaming in California. But Valbuena – like many tribal leaders — also is involved in an array of other issues as well, including women’s rights, social and environmental justice, sovereignty and income disparity. She is viewed within the tribal world as a peacemaker and a canny negotiator, and she plays a significant role in the regular gatherings of tribal officials from across California. Her reputation extends beyond California – she’s a former trustee of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and she has been inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame by the American Gaming Association.
Updated Aug. 29, 2017