As one of California's most influential tribal leaders, Mark Macarro has been included among Capitol Weekly's list of the top 100 most powerful voices in California politics. For over 15 years, he has served as tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. As part of his activities supporting tribal communities, Mark Macarro recently spoke out against the reluctance of UC Berkeley and other academic institutions to return Native American remains and artifacts back to their respective tribes.
For nearly three decades, US law has required federally funded museums to share lists of the Native American remains and artifacts they have in their collections with the respective tribes. The law also gives tribal communities that are able to prove a connection to the remains and artifacts the right to repossess them so that they can be reburied with dignity on ancestral tribal land. In California, the federal law has been extended to state-funded institutions, such as colleges and universities.
Despite the extension of the law, some museums at California's academic institutions have been reluctant to return archaeological remains back to local tribes. One of the most notable examples is the Phoebe Hearst Museum at UC Berkeley, which has returned fewer than 300 out of the more than 9,000 bodies it holds in its collection.
Officials at Berkeley and other UC campuses have defended the slow rate of repatriation by citing the research value of the remains and claiming that further investigation is needed. Local tribal leaders see the situation quite differently, however. Native American representatives continue to fight for repatriation, which may see further support through recently passed California legislation that aims to give tribal communities equal representation on campus committees.
The tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, Mark Macarro stands out as an influential figure in California state politics. Sacramento-based publication Capitol Weekly has for multiple years placed Mark Macarro in its list of the top 100 political figures in the state.
For more than a quarter of a century, Capitol Weekly has been required reading for Californians working in state government. The publication is part of Open California, a nonprofit organization that endeavors to keep Californians informed about state governance and public policy.
Founded in 2012, Open California also serves as a platform for engaging with political leaders. In pursuit of its mission, Open California publishes not only Capitol Weekly but also a political news compendium and a daily e-newsletter that reaches more than 6,000 subscribers.
In addition, Open California hosts a biweekly talk show and a quarterly conference series. Both the talk show and the conference series, which are broadcast on the statewide California Channel, examine important issues in California politics.
Open California operates because of the efforts of a small team of staff members and contributors. The organization also works with Sacramento State University and the University of California to provide valuable internships to a half-dozen aspiring journalists each year.
Mark Macarro has maintained leadership positions with the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians for more than two decades. As tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band, Mark Macarro serves as a representative of his tribe at the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
Since its inception in 1944, NCAI has upheld the mission of preserving the rights and cultures of American Indians living across the United States. Additionally, the organization also focuses on enhancing the lives of the Native populations that it serves. NCAI continually works toward these goals by operating a number of campaigns that highlight and celebrate tribal heritage.
In 1968, NCAI established a campaign that aimed to bring attention to the harmful representations of Native individuals that permeate various aspects of popular culture. Known as the “Proud to Be” campaign, this initiative later expanded its focus to the “Indian” caricatures that many sports teams have used as mascots since the early 1960s.
Looking to abolish such portrayals of indigenous peoples, NCAI has sought to educate the public about the negative effects that these mascots can cause. The organization has found that, over the years, these representations have cultivated stereotypical views of Native people that have given rise to hate crimes and caused psychological harm among the population of Native youth.
Through its “Proud to Be” campaign, NCAI has garnered staggering support from both Native and non-Native communities. The initiative has encouraged all manner of tribal entities, schools, and sporting organizations to call for the eradication of “Indian” mascots. Through the dedication of NCAI and its supporters, the “Proud to Be” campaign has already eliminated more than 2,000 negative representations of Native peoples in the sporting world.
A California political figure, Mark Macarro is the tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. Mark Macarro serves as a board of governors member of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
The nonprofit NCAI was founded in 1944. It is the largest and most representative organization of American Indians and Alaska Natives. NCAI caters to the wide affairs of Native American Indian governments and communities. One of the organization’s initiatives is its partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to inform tribes about participating in the Environmental Information Exchange Network (EIEN) program.
EIEN is mutually presided by representatives from states, tribes, and the EPA. With the use of common data standards, the program’s objective is the sharing between territories, tribes, and states of data on health, geography, and the environment. The program aims to improve decision making by providing EIEN partners with environmental data that is accurate and reliable.
NCAI has a cooperative assistance agreement with EIEN that is intended to increase tribal environmental data monitoring awareness, capability, and sharing. The agreement will also enable NCAI to apprise EPA personnel and EIEN partners about tribal requirements and concerns in its EIEN involvement.
For nearly 15 years, Mark Macarro has served as the elected tribal chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in southern California. In addition to his work with the tribe, Mark Macarro has dedicated his time and resources to various Native American advocacy organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).
Since 2003, the NCAI has operated its Policy Research Center, a think tank that gathers information and provides tools to help tribal leaders and other members of Native American groups improve their communities. In addition to conducting research focused on priorities such as natural resources, tribal labor, and wellness, the Research Center oversees the Tribal Leader/Scholar Forum, which brings together community thought leaders to discuss various issues.
In 2017, the Forum will be held at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, on June 14. The scholars who will present at the event have yet to be selected, but the program will focus on the investments in environmental programs, the workforce, systems, and other types of initiatives that tribal leaders can make to maintain sovereignty. The Forum will also discuss the important role that research and data play in building value-based communities. For more information, visit www.ncai.org.
Marc Macarro was elected as a Councilman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians in 1992, and he now serves the band as Chairman. A traditional Luiseño singer, Marc Macarro is called upon to perform ceremonial funeral songs at tribal wakes on Indian reservations.
The traditional melodies of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians are accompanied by rattles. The rattles maintain cadence within a song, directing singers to change from verse to refrain and dancers to begin dancing. The use of rattles in songs is complex, because different types of rattles are used for specific purposes, including singing to the deceased or for healing purposes. Musicians in the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians understand the rules governing the use of rattles before they use them in song. Unaccompanied rattles must be promptly handed over to a new owner, burned or buried.
Deer hooves, turtle shells, leather, fiber cordage, string, wire, silk moth cocoon, and hardwood such as red shank, manzanita, and chamise are some of the materials used in the rattle-making process. For the rattle to make a satisfactory noise inside, coyote seeds or small rocks may be used. Coyote seeds are manzanita seeds that have been eaten and recovered from a coyote’s scat. The small rocks placed inside the rattle are said to produce the sound of the earth.
Mark Macarro has been the Tribal Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians for 14 years.