There’s a profound Native American belief that asks the current generation to consider its actions in the context of the seventh generation.
A member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians Tribal Council, Corrine Beckwith Garbani is focused on that future. Since her election to the council in January 2009, she has served the 1,200 people on the 5,500-acre Pechanga reservation in Temecula, Calif.
“My goal is to make good, informed choices in how I vote and what I stand behind, to ensure we make lasting changes so that the Pechanga tribe continues to have a prosperous community for our children through the seventh generation,” Garbani says. “And being prosperous isn’t just about money, but about strengthening our health, wellness and connections to each other.”
Garbani follows a path set out by her forebears. Her mother, Lucille Allen, served on the tribal council from 1992–94. Garbani wants others to know more about tribal government. “We are a government just like any other city or state government. We have all the successes and failures that come with being a government, and all the same responsibilities, just on a smaller scale. The biggest difference is that we sit on a monthly basis in front of all our constituents; we know who they are, and they know who we are. … What I vote on, I live with.”
And so do those future generations. That’s why Garbani, who earned an urban studies degree at LMU, advocates for laws that support stabilization or growth of Native American culture. “Policy and regulation are my comfort zone,” Garbani says. “If something is not working, we need to try to influence policy at the federal or state level.” She has provided testimony about gaming to the California Assembly Governmental Organization Committee and about health care to the U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs. “We have a voice that is now backed up by resources to be able to protect who we are and ensure we are not dismissed.”
Before her election, Garbani served on the Pechanga Gaming Commission and held leadership positions with other Native American organizations. But now working on the reservation, Garbani is where she wants to be. “I have two daughters, ages 10 and 12, who understand what I do and are part of it. They come to tribal council meetings. My 12-year-old interned for our office this summer.” Like her mother, Garbani is igniting a passion to serve in the next generation.