National Native American Heritage Month, observed in November, is a dedicated time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Native Americans, including American Indians and Alaska Natives. It serves as an opportunity to recognize and honor the significant contributions of Native people throughout history. November was chosen for this commemoration because it marks the conclusion of the traditional Native American harvest season, a time of celebration and gratitude.
Our collaboration with the Tribal Nations of the region is one that embodies the spirit of cooperation, respect, and shared progress. Our mission is to foster resilience, celebrate heritage, and build a brighter future. This collaboration goes beyond utility services; it's about trust, understanding, and a commitment to the well-being of all involved.
Dr. Theresa Gregor, who is featured in the SDG&E Tribal Relations video below, is an Adjunct Professor at the University of San Diego and the Executive Director of the Inter-Tribal Long-Term Recovery Foundation. As a Kumeyaay from the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel, her mission is clear: to raise awareness and promote tribal resiliency through preparedness and long-term recovery.
Dr. Gregor understands the value of the 14-year relationship between SDG&E and the Inter-Tribal Long-Term Recovery Foundation and she acknowledges the “significance of the information SDG&E shares about community preparedness and wildfire safety, stressing the importance for tribal communities' education.”
Jennifer Summers, our Tribal Relations Director, emphasizes that trust must be earned and maintained. She highlights our efforts to respecting each tribe's laws, culture, people, and land, and ensure that every interaction is intentional and thoughtful.
Dr. Gregor says that she appreciates our long-term commitment and flexibility. “I recognize that working with tribes requires a nuanced understanding and I applaud SDG&E for bridging cultural differences and involving tribes at all levels of community engagement,” shares Dr. Gregor.
Michael Daleo, our Vegetation Management Manager, points out the strong and positive working relationship between SDG&E and Tribal Nations. “We not only perform vegetation management practices on Tribal lands, but we also engage Tribes in initiatives like the "right tree, right place" concept, which involves planting native trees that won’t grow beyond the power lines—a practice essential for both the utility and tribal nations.”
Tishmall Turner, Vice Chairwoman of the Rincon Tribal Council, is also featured in the video and recognizes the value of bringing tribes into the modern world. “SDG&E's collaboration with the Rincon Band of Luiseno Indians on a one-megawatt solar field on the reservation is a testament to this vision,” says Turner. “This endeavor supports the reservation's vital infrastructure and reflects a commitment to sustainable energy solutions.”
Vanessa Vandever, a Tribal citizen of the Navajo Nation and our Tribal Relations Manager, acknowledges that SDG&E’s work is an ongoing endeavor. “Every day, we seek new ways to communicate, show respect, and bring communities together. Working toward equity for all tribes is a personal cause that I am very passionate about.”
"We look forward to further enhancing the lives of Tribal Nations in the future,” says Jennifer Summers. "We are proud of everything that we have accomplished so far."
Dr. Gregor concludes with heartfelt appreciation for our ongoing support, whether during times of need and beyond. "This consistency brings peace of mind to our communities, knowing they can continue to be resilient."
In the words of Vanessa Vandever, "The job that we do here at SDG&E to empower Tribes is aligned with our vision where Tribal communities are given the same authority and respect as other municipalities in San Diego County. This work is a testament to the power of collaboration, respect, and shared progress.”
To hear more from SDG&E representatives and others within the Tribal Communities that we serve watch the SDG&E Supports Tribal Relations video below.