Prior to 1986, when San Manuel introduced its first gaming facility, dirt roads snaked across the Tribe’s small, mountainous land base in Southern California. Five HUD homes stood on the reservation, and they were “just a square box,” Lynn Valbuena, Chairwoman of the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, told Native Business Magazine.
“Back in the 70s, I was appointed as the first housing commissioner for my Tribe, and I would travel to meetings for AMIHA — All Mission Indian Housing Authority — in San Diego to fight for better housing for my Tribe,” shared Valbuena, who was sworn-in for her third consecutive term as Chairwoman on April 17, 2018. She’s served in Tribal politics for more than 40 years, and the Yuhaaviatam, or People of the Pines, are her greatest priority.
Today, 44 homes exist on the San Manuel Indian Reservation in the San Bernardino region, and the installation of infrastructure for 30 to 40 new homes is currently underway — a process anticipated to last through 2021, given the area’s rugged terrain that requires extensive site grading, with homebuilding by Tribal members to follow.
The Tribe’s master plan additionally includes new roadways, utilities, driveways, retaining walls, curbs, drainage systems and other related infrastructure.
“It has always been a challenge to build structures on the hillside lands of our reservation, but as our Tribal families have grown, we are investing in infrastructure to meet the needs of the next generation of our people,” stated Valbuena.