81. Lynn “Nay” Valbuena
If we had to pick one person who has educated us about tribal issues, it would be Lynn Valbuena, the chairwoman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians and the head of the Tribal Alliance of Sovereign Indian Nations. Valbuena, the great-great-granddaughter of Yuhaaviatam tribal leader Santos Manuel, leads a major casino-owning tribe and has been involved in political discussions over online gaming and sports betting. But Valbuena — like many tribal leaders — is involved in numerous 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 Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian and has been inducted into the Gaming Hall of Fame by the American Gaming Association.
Updated Aug. 15, 2018