Soboba’s Geneva Mojado receives Warrior Award

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Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians | Contributed

The American Indian Chamber of Commerce recently awarded Soboba Tribal Council Vice-Chairwoman Geneva Mojado with the Warrior Award during its 24th annual Native American Heritage Month fundraiser luncheon. Usually in November, this year’s event was held Dec. 1 at the Grand Californian Hotel, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim.

The luncheon began with a networking reception and silent auction that raises funds for annual Chamber Scholarships, which were presented at the event. Each year, the organization chooses a Tribal leader and a corporate partner to receive its highest honor, the Warrior Award. Both deserving recipients are chosen for their contributions to the Chamber’s mission, which is, “To provide opportunities for networking and support of American Indian business people in California. To Provide a mentor’s environment for those individuals beginning new endeavors and establish a vehicle for education, networking and growth opportunities.”

The Native American Financial Officers Association (NAFOA) received the corporate partner Warrior Award for their commitment to supporting Tribal economies through sound economic and fiscal policy, innovative learning opportunities, convening through leadership and developing resources for Tribes that strengthen governance and exercise sovereignty. Acting board president VaRene Martin accepted the award on behalf of NAFOA.

Mojado, who was singled out for the individual Tribal Leader award, was elected to the Soboba Tribal Council in April 2020 and currently serves in the position of Vice-Chairwoman. Since 2006, she has previously served in the positions of treasurer and secretary. She had served on the Soboba Foundation Board for more than nine years and the Soboba Economic Development Corporation as Vice-Chair for four years. Mojado is currently the Chairwoman of Legacy Bancorp and serves on the Board of Directors as secretary for Legacy Bank, which is 100% owned by the Soboba Band. She is a strong advocate for education and serves as the Chairwoman for the San Jacinto Unified School District Native American Parent Advisory Council. She is also a Western Science Center Board of Directors member.

Geneva Mojado, center, shares her Warrior Award with her children, Daniel and Gloria at a ceremony on Dec. 1.

Mojado was recently appointed to the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG) on its Community Economic and Human Development Committee (CEHD). Raised on the Soboba Reservation, Mojado attended San Jacinto High School and graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in criminal justice and a minor in Native American Studies. Serving her Tribe for more than 14 years she has been committed to volunteering on the Noli Indian School Board, Tribal Emergency Response Commission, Soboba Pow Wow committee and chairing the annual NIAA (National Indian Athletic Association) Softball Tournament. In 2023, after serving for six years, Mojado vacated her position with Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health Inc.’s Native Challenge program as a Health Educator. Her passion and goal is to continue working with Tribal communities and Native youth alongside her children, Daniel and Gloria, and her Tribe for many years to come.

Before she accepted the award, several speakers shared some of their personal interactions with Mojado. Andrew Masiel Sr. from the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians said in all the years he has known her, she has always been involved and engaged. “There are a few things I want to share about the character of Geneva,” he said. “She is one of those persons who asks the question ‘why not?’ and her involvement in so many activities stems from this.” He explained that when Soboba wanted to establish a charitable foundation a battle ensued for many years on whether it was to be a state or federal foundation. Masiel said, “After her aunt left Tribal Council and Geneva finished school, she picked up that battle and played a big part in the establishment of the Soboba Foundation.” He added that Soboba is one of the few Tribes in the country that has a philanthropic foundation.

Masiel said Mojado always had an interest in economics and development and that they shared many conversations about economic development and the prosperity of Indian Tribes and Indian people getting financial gain. “Geneva was a big part of working on the current Legacy Bank that the Soboba Tribe now owns, the only Indian-owned bank in California and only the 17th in the nation,” he said. “This stems from Geneva’s commitment and foresight to getting things done.”

The American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California Warrior Award.

Masiel went on to say that overall, as a person, Mojado is the fitting image of the Warrior Award. Other speakers thanked her for her passion and dedication and commitment to her constituents and all Indian people. She was applauded for embodying that Warrior spirit as a strong woman.

Mojado said she was truly honored to receive the award and that she doesn’t know what she would do without her support system. She invited her children, Daniel and Gloria, to stand beside her on stage to share the award with her and gave a shout out to other relatives past and present who contributed to her becoming the person she is today. “I am truly grateful for who I am and where I am today,” Mojado said. “What makes me a warrior are these two who are standing next to me. These two have been through it all with me.”

She went on to say that she has been honored to serve with many great Tribal leaders at Soboba, such as Bobby Salgado, Rose Salgado and Rosemary Morillo. “I do come from a family of leaders,” Mojado said. “My dad and aunt were on Tribal Council and my grandma and great-great grandfather were also Tribal leaders.”

She thanked those who spoke so kindly about her and congratulated the young people who received scholarships at the event. “Education is really important, and it can’t be taken away from you,” Mojado told the recipients. “I encourage you to use those scholarships and take what you learn back to your communities and help Indian country.”

The American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California Board of Directors shared, “Never shall any of us forget where our ancestors came from and their dreams for the success of our people today. One of our Native American core values is to plan for seven generations from our own. We, at the American Indian Chamber, share those values and seek to foster economic opportunities for our enterprise success, self-sufficiency and set a foundation for sustainable growth for our generations to come.”

For more information, www.aicccal.org.

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