It's not often we get to meet great tribal chairmen, mostly knowing the lowlifes like Mark Macarro and Robert Smith of Pechanga and Pala, respectively, but having met the chairman a few times and hearing him speak, Richard Milanovich fit's the bill. The Chairman had been sick with cancer, giving the fight a great effort. He passed away today at 69.
Here's the press statement:
"Today, we, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, have lost our great leader, Chairman Richard M. Milanovich. He was one of the most well respected Tribal Chairs in the entire Nation. For 28 years, under his leadership and dedication, we became one of the most respected and progressive Tribes in America.
"There was no one like Chairman Milanovich. He was a great teacher, an inspirational mentor, and most of all, a friend. We were fortunate to have his experience, wise counsel and incredible foresight for so long. Chairman Milanovich strongly believed that our younger members of the Tribe must understand the battles that were fought and won. Only through understanding our past can we forge a progressive future for our people and the generations to come.
"Chairman Milanovich was clear about cherishing the past and protecting the future. Under his leadership, our Tribe developed economically, politically and culturally, and we are now in the position to make that our own promise. We pledge to him that we will continue the course that he has so well paved. All Agua Caliente Tribal Members join me today in the mourning of our great leader, but I also know they join me in expressing our profound gratitude for what he did for all of us.
"As Vice Chairman of the Tribal Council, I will assume the responsibilities of Acting Chairman, and pledge to honor and continue to empower the people of our Tribe, with the support of the Council and the Tribal Members."