This picture was taken during a lighthearted moment in which tribal elder Mildred Burley spoke of a funny event from long ago in Indian country, to the amusement of all whom attended. Clockwise from left: Dennis Yonemura, Ione Band of Miwok Indians, Rashel Reznor, Secretary/Trasurer, California Valley Miwok Tribe, Silvia Burley, Chairperson, California Valley Miwok Tribe, Anjelica Paulk, Council Member, California Valley Miwok Tribe, Terisa Yonemura, Round Valley Reservation, Mildred Burley, Elder, California Valley Miwok Tribe.

The California Valley Miwok Tribe (located at 10601 N. Escondido PL, Stockton, CA, as listed in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ BIA/DOI Spring 2011 Tribal Leaders Directory), a federally recognized tribe eligible to receive and distribute services from the federal government – on Sunday, May 29, 2011, held a meeting at the tribal offices with Mr. Dennis Yonemura; accompanied by his wife, Mrs. Terisa Yonemura, also in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was in regards to the tribal support of the California Valley Miwok Tribe for Mr. Yonemura to be able to fulfill the position of Native American Spiritual Leader within the California Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Justice (DJJ), which is headquartered in Sacramento, CA.

Mr. Yonemura had previously been promised this position and in fact has worked within this job capacity in the Stockton, Ione and Pine Grove areas. Mr. Yonemura is of Native American descent and is in fact himself a local Miwok and tribal member in good standing with the Ione Band of Miwok Indians. Mr. Yonemura provides a much needed service to Native American youth that are currently in a dire situation, providing them with spiritual direction and cultural healing that many have lost and some have never even known.

Mr. Yonemura has practiced Native American culture and spiritualism throughout his life, falling back on it and depending on the strength of his own beliefs to get him through troubled times within his own life. He has so fully embraced what he teaches that he is recognized not only in his profession, but throughout the entire Native community as a spiritual leader. Whether it be a sweat, traditional dancing, various Big Time celebrations, rehabilitation or new construction of a place of worship, Mr. Yonemura’s participation can always be counted on. For this reason, the California Valley Miwok Tribe has previously and continues to support Mr. Yonemura, a local Miwok spiritual leader within the Miwok community, and also supports and endorses him as a Native American spiritual leader within the California Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Justice for the County of San Joaquin.