California Indian Tribal Liaison preserves American Indian culture

Staff Spotlight

California Indian Tribal Liaison preserves American Indian culture

Andrea Martinez, Assistant Copy Editor


Tishmall Turner was the first full-time member of the CSU system to be appointed to the California Indian Tribal Liaison in 2007, a role in line with the efforts of her tribal community to maintain its culture.

Turner, who holds a master’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Phoenix, is a member of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians tribal community. She currently works in the California Indian Culture and Sovereignty Center as the first point of contact for American Indian students on campus.

She applies the goals of her previous role at The Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, which include serving their members in the tribal community in various aspects of their lives, to her role at the Sovereignty Center, which is located in Social and Behavioral Sciences Building 1818.

Her efforts are ingrained in maintaining American Indian traditions, whether they involve various tribal groups, as with the tribal association, or are within her own community on the Rincon Indian Reservation. It is on the 6,000-acre reservation in Valley Center that she said she learned about her tribal identity and culture from her grandparents and other elders.

“There is a role for everyone in a tribal community and everyone must participate fully in their role in order for the tribe to continue our traditions and culture,” said Turner. “My roles include being an advocate for my tribe and a woman leader within my own family.”

Turner also maintains these values in the Sovereignty Center, where American Indians from inside and outside the community can feel united.

“The CICSC [Sovereignty Center] provides a sense of community for American Indian students, staff, faculty and Tribal Nations when they visit our campus,” said Turner.

She works for the Division of Community Engagement but her office is in the Sovereignty Center so she can “provide a one-stop shop for American Indian students and communities when they visit our campus.”

Her involvement on campus also gave her the opportunity to work with the Office of Diversity, Educational Equity and Inclusion on the Beyond the Stereotype campaign in spring 2014.

“It was a campus-wide effort led by the center to help educate our students about various groups,” said Turner.

Being a part of Community Engagement has also allowed Turner to provide “guidance and assistance to the President and other university administrators regarding tribal events, issues, educational needs and protocol,” she said.

Turner said she is grateful to work at the Sovereignty Center, a place she describes as “one of a kind,” where she can interact with fellow American Indians.

“I am thankful to have my office in the CICSC [Sovereignty Center] because it provides me an opportunity to have daily contact and support for [American Indian] students, faculty and staff.”