San Diegan Jane Dumas, Kumeyaay Selected as Senior
By Roy Cook
||Jane Dumas was one of 35 California Senior
Leaders honored Sept. 13 and 14, 2002 by the UC Berkeley School of
Public Health for their outstanding contributions to community-building
and healthy aging in the state. Funded by The California Wellness
Foundation, the awards ceremony was designed to showcase the often
invisible role of California rapidly growing senior population and
to provide selected seniors with two days of recognition and training.
The School of Public Health solicited written nominations from local
health departments, foundations, colleges, community-based organizations,
and local and state governments. Eligibility was restricted to those at
least 55 years old who had demonstrated a commitment to healthy aging
and giving back to their communities.
Jane Dumas is often the first person called to mind when anyone needs
to reference Kumeyaay tribal issues. She is a humble person who would
rather work for the improvement of si tuations rather than confrontation
and attention of self. She grew up in a dirt-floored home, hauling water
by the bucket. She spoke Kumeyaay and Spanish before English. Jane Dumas
is a member of the Jamul Band of Kumeyaay Indians in East County.
In April of this year, 2002, the Jamul Indian Village Band of Kumeyaay
gave her public recognition and honored her with a plaque for being inducted
into the first San Diego County Woman Hall of Fame. Further, the Jamul
tribe exercised their sovereignty and proclaimed that the March 23 date
is officially: Jane Dumas Day. She is a well-known and widely respected
elder, teacher, and leader in San Diego's American Indian community and
in San Diego at-large.
For decades, Jane has been speaking in classrooms and at public events,
sharing knowledge of Kumeyaay culture and medicine, and stressing the
value of traditional language and history in today's urban and American
Indian societies. In 1981, Jane helped found the San Diego American Indian
Health Center, and since 1986 she has been described as an "anchor, leader,
peacemaker, and bridge between Indian and non-Indians in the areas of
medicine and education" and she believes that "We can become healthier
as both individuals and as a community by incorporating traditional knowledge
"Healthy aging is defined broadly by The Wellness Foundation so that a
wide diversity of projects that add life to years and years to life could
be considered," Minkler says. "Awardees are all working in unpaid capacities,
so our graduate students will now be able to provide them with some guidance
and technical assistance.
"Seniors have been called our only expanding natural resource, yet society
continues to cast them as burdens rather than the tremendous assets they
are," says Meredith Minkler DrPH, a Berkeley Professor of Community Health
Education and Health & Social Behavior, Located at 535 University Hall,
the Resource Center on Aging/Academic Geriatric Resource Program is a
state-funded program administered by the School of Public Health. Minkler,
the founding director of the UC Center on Aging, is the principal investigator
for a new two-year School of Public Health project, California Senior
Leaders and Healthy Aging, which will follow the 35 senior awardees through
the next two years.
Roy Cook (Mazopiye Wichasha) Opata/Osage, author/publisher.