Erica M. Pinto, chairwoman of Jamul Indian Village of California (JIV), received the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California’s highest honor, the Warrior Award.  Pinto was recognized at the Chamber’s 2020 Native American Heritage Month Luncheon on Friday, November 6 at the Agua Caliente Resort in Rancho Mirage, Calif.  The award recognizes Pinto’s continuous work on behalf of tribal businesses and community growth for Native peoples. 

The Annual Native American Heritage Month Luncheon is one of the Chamber’s signature events each year.  The event is an opportunity for Chamber members to network, celebrate, award scholarships for higher education to deserving Native students, and honor the Warrior Award winners.  Pinto went through a rigorous selection process as this year’s individual Warrior Award winner.  She was nominated by members of the Chamber’s Tribal Advisory Council, including past Warrior Award winners: Lynn Valbuena, Andrew Masiel, and Rosemary Morillo.  Her selection as this year’s recipient was then finalized by the Chamber Board of Directors.

Chairwoman Pinto has been involved with the JIV Tribal Council since 1997.  In 2015, she was the first woman elected chairwoman of the JIV, and has led the tribe to make significant economic progress on its path to self-reliance.  Under Pinto’s leadership on the Tribal Council, the JIV oversaw the groundbreaking of a world-class gaming facility on its reservation in February 2014.  In October 2016, Jamul Casino opened, creating nearly 1,000 permanent jobs. She continues working to expand the tribe’s land base and increase economic opportunities for members of the JIV.  She is also co-founder of the Acorns to Oaks tribal program, which organizes activities designed to help prevent drug and alcohol abuse and teen pregnancy, and promote education.