Barona Feathers the Soaring Eagle Nest

By Roy Cook

The SDUSD Indian Education Title VII, Soaring Eagle students, parents, mentors and community volunteers attend the February 25, 2010, Barona Band of Mission Indians award of a $5,000 education grant to the Harold J. Ballard Parent Center, which provides family-friendly resources to boost the academic success of students living in urban San Diego. Assembly member Toni Atkins (D-San Diego) joined Principal Beatrice Fernandez in accepting the grant, which was presented by Edwin “Thorpe” Romero, Chairman of the Barona Band of Mission Indians.

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The funds will be used to purchase laptop computers, flash drives and calculators for the Ballard Center’s Soaring Eagles Workshop. The workshop is an after-school cultural arts program, offered as part of the Center’s American Indian Education program. The Soaring Eagle program provides Native American/Alaskan Native K-12 students with an opportunity to learn traditional ceremonies and tribal customs.

clip_image004“The students who attend the Soaring Eagles Workshop are often removed from their tribal reservations, traditional tribal ceremonies and customs,” said program organizer Vicky Gambala. The program is located in Old Town. The Ballard Parent Center serves as the home of San Diego Parent University, where parents learn how to strengthen their parenting skills, become more involved in their children’s education as academic coaches and improve their ability to communicate with their children.

clip_image006Barona Tribal Chairman Edwin “Thorpe” Romero said to Randy Edmonds, Kiowa elder, “We are pleased to support this important program that encourages students to participate in these culturally enriching activities, improving their self concept and cultural pride, which impacts their success in school and life.”


The Barona Education Grant Program, created and administered by Tribal Government, is the first of its kind in California. The goal of the program is to create strong educational opportunities for the children of California by building upon the success of the Barona Indian Charter School, which operates under a continuous improvement model.

Schools throughout California can apply for educational grants from Barona to purchase much-needed supplies and materials that promote academic improvement. Each grant awarded by the Barona Education Grant Program is $5,000. The Barona Band of Mission Indians has been sharing resources through its Barona Education Grant Program since 2006, awarding over $1 million to more than 200 schools statewide.

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The Barona Band of Mission Indians is recognized by the United States government as a sovereign Nation. The band has lived on the Barona Indian Reservation in rural eastern San Diego County since 1932. Prior to that, the Tribe lived on the Capitan Grande Reservation until 1931. The El Capitan band is and original Treaty signatory. The federal government in 1875 established the Band reservation. Long before, perhaps 40-50,000 years the Tribe utilized the resources across Southern California in tune with the seasons and what nature provided. Today, the sovereign Barona Nation, governed by elected Tribal Council, is serving its Tribal members, their families, and sharing their resources with the San Diego region.

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Finally, we extend our appreciative thanks to the Barona Education Grant Program. And we hope to see you and your family at the next American Indian community event.