It’s time for change
Learn More About Me
Dear tribal members
Education & Sports:
I attended Trinidad Elementary K-12 and played basketball, volleyball and softball. We were league champions for the years I played. And I played at High school where we won league and state championships. The greatest feeling is to have the community excited to see us win and follow us to the Oakland Coliseum. I am a 2 x Hall of Fame athlete in Volleyball & Basketball. Sports taught me team work and helped me distinguish championship coaching and players with heart and those who are not. I continue to look for that winning team in all areas of life as I work through projects I work on. I attending and learned Business Law and general education at Laney, JC and studied Business Administration and Political Science at Humboldt & Sacramento State. Over the years I attended numerous TonyRobbins and Landmark Education programs and the like and hire personal coaches when necessary. I highly believe and recommend coaching programs to do focused growing in specific areas where one needs results. I’ve done it in business when helped me build up a successful business and also in weight loss. Sustainability is the key after that!!
I tagged along with my mom for years while she was Chairwoman, and it was there I was able to see at an early age, reservations and meet leadership at conferences as she lobbied on various issues affecting our native people. I remember her hosting and fund raising for many local, state and congressional candidates. Its something I believe we as a tribe should continue to do to bridge relationships with the surrounding governments.
I am a blessed mother of 4 awesome kids – Terrance, Zack, Aliesha Brown and Kayla Maulson who’ve given me 9 beautiful grandchildren, and I have 7 other step children where my grandchildren total like 22!! LOVE IT!! My house is rarely quite. We are a fun bunch, full of love and laughter. We are major foodies and love to eat, learn new stuff, travel and veg together. We also enjoy watching our kids playing sports. I see some our youth are crushing sports and it would be great for our community to feature them and get behind them.
First political wins & Friends in Congress:
My oldest children’s father (Terrance Brown) worked for Congressman Don Young from Alaska who is still in Congress and has been our Tribe’s ally and instrumental in helping us in our struggles with the Yurok Tribe. Terry & I worked with Walt Lara and my mom on stopping Congressman Doug Bosco from attempting to stop native people from gillnet fishing on the Klamath River before there was a Yurok Tribe. We worked on attempting to organize the Yurok Tribe because there was no representation of the thousands of Yuroks that were tribeless. After several attempts failed, we later won our congressman over and he ended up sponsoring the Hoopa Yurok Settlement Act, where I assisted and lobbied its passage and it was signed into law by President Ronald Regan. I served as a political appointee by the Secretary of Interior as a transition team member. Our mandate was to study and investigate tribes across the country and prepare the Yurok Tribe in its creation.
I also want to mention that Terry was also instrumental in helping get the first stages of our bingo hall initiated, but my mom is the one who finished the job and got it open.
First business team win
After my stint on the Yurok Transition Team, I had amassed a large network of tribes that I learned from and built relationships. I was offered the opportunity to sell ATMs to the new emerging Indian gaming industry. I threw my mom & kids in the car and we traveled across the country going from casino to casino seeing they were without access to cash, so I developed a plan to get the best of breeds at that time to work on building a solution that included checks and credit cards along with the ATMs. I finally found a team I could hit the field with called GameCash and we crushed it. As VP of Indian Gaming we took the company from 2 million to 70 in 2.5 years and became the largest company of its kind in the gaming industry and the model created is still used today. Our stock went from $2.00 a share on the NASDAQ to $27. And my first time working with a publically traded company. It was that feeling of being on a winning team again.
Mom was on the original board that created Sumeg under the State Parks. She was asked by her longtime friend Walt Lara to host the dances, so over 30 years ago, she started having “High Tea by the Sea,” to raise money that is used for the feeding of the people and to pay for the family deaths for the year. She has passed the baton and I and our Sundberg girls have been hosting the tea parties and cooking the food at the dances.
We always welcome you all to participate and share in this special fun and continuation of our culture. Our Rancheria and its members are the biggest contributors of this dance. And truthfully, it’s here where I really honed my frybread craft now used in our new venture made with lotsa love!
Mom served on the board at United Indian Health for 41 years and when her and our tribal council were at odds, caused by an executive team with alterior motives, I had to jump in the middle of the eye of their storm and see what was going on. After I aided her and the UIHS board in taking out the rebels, I ran for the board and served there for 6 years. I participated in the March on Washington annually with the California Rural Indian Health Board where I learned not only our issues at our clinics, but also that of our State, as well as nationally in the National Indian Health Board.
I decided not to run for Area 2 again, because we finally got a good CEO that would guide us, therefore leaving UIHS in the hands of good executive leadership and a model of training and coaching to grow people from within I hope we take these same values to our home front. Seeing the issues in healthcare also showed me, we aren’t really able to get the kind of health care we need and that is where sovereignty can play a role. Alternative health care is the future, and not relying solely on western medicine. We have herbalists in our own community and it would be amazing for us to hold classes and create our own medicines.
National Institute of Health
I am the Chair of the National Institute of Health’s Tribal Advisory Committee. It is here that I learned about the need of tribes rising up into health research. The National Institute of General Medical Sciences in conjunction with multiple NIH Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs) have partnered with Indian Health Service (IHS) to support the Native American Research Centers for Health (NARCH) – I would love to see our tribe and UIHS get more involved in this opportunity. NIH funds many research projects and with our small community and its recently high morbidity rate, we should be eligible to study and find solutions to heal our community with partnerships and be the backbone of plant medicine science and alternative modalities in conjunction with Humboldt State’s polytecnic status.
Human Rights Commissioner of Humboldt County
Last year I joined the Human Rights Commission to learn about the issues facing racism, human trafficking and murdered and missing people that are not getting the attention they need. This is where I take my deep dive in the rabbit hole to see how we can affect change in this area. I look to create a space where the local Sheriff can meet with our families and tribe over the deaths in our own community that have not received the attention they deserve. It is in this space that I also am assisting the tribes in having the County acknowledge our sovereignty and that we share stewardship of the lands we both govern. Its now in our opening statements of the county.
Defender of our Nation(s)/Teaching our Future
Mom and I battle together and when someone comes up against our community, I/we will be there to defend our people right alongside our tribal leadership, locally and nationally. Teaching our next generation is what is important to keep our people strong. I’ve done that for my children and now grandchildren showing them the wisdom my mom gave me. My son Zack did an amazing job when we were confronted by the Yurok Tribe over the lighthouse. And I took Jeremiah to Standing Rock so he knows what to defend and why. I mentor with the people from the long house in Mohawk Country who taught me about the “Two Row Wampum Belt Treaty” – two sovereigns who share the same lands. We will go to war together, but you have your ways and we have ours. A sovereign is never subject to another sovereign. It’s how they teach to respond to laws that try and oppress Indian Tribes.
The various faces of tourism, our number one Industry in Humboldt County
Trinidad and its surrounding beauty make our tribe “Destination Tribe.” The tourist culture is now looking for experiences. Who we are and what opportunities are around us because of where we are is important. In 2011 mom and I attended an international tourism conference and learned that the number one sought after desired destination is a place where people can learn about other cultures. “Cultural Tourism.” We also should be practicing sustainability which is another highly sought after experience called “Eco-Tourism.” And lets not forget, people are also searching for freedom in the cannabis culture, and we are in the epicenter of this famous plant medicine. Its why I have been advocating balconies, which are not on our current plans, but people want privacy. We only have a public balcony, that people will not be comfortable smoking around. The other missing piece is the fact that people need places to do have wedding venues, receptions and even business conference areas. The prices we charge will also help avoid unsavory activities in our facility.
I hope we look into these things in more detail as we venture into our hotel project. We are in the entertainment & hospitality business which is why we need to find people who can help us built and overall epic site for people to have the best experience at our location(s). I’m very adamant about us understanding and identifying a brand for ourselves and our businesses. We’ve had some brushes with celebrities and they would come if we do this right.
Windfall of the Biden Administration – It’s GO TIME!
Never has there been a time in history that Indian Country been given so much by this country’s leadership. A stark contrast from the previous administration who is hungry to get back into power. It is go time to run at these opportunities and surround ourselves with those who can get to the funding opportunities for us. I’ve even said this when correcting government policy.
Land & Housing
We are maxed out on our land for new housing and need to buy more soon. The window to get land into trust while we have leadership in Sacramento that we have good relationships with is opportune. I worked with our Area Director when I was on the Yurok Transition Team in the late 80’s and am confident that we can get land to trust easily as Washington DC has sent that authority back to the Area Office. We need more land for housing & economic development – period.
Congress has been throwing money and opportunity to tribes for a while and with this administration, new opportunities are available not only for tribal governments but for entrepreneur’s as well. We should be building businesses unique to skills available to us internally and that are reflective of our area. It’s important that we surround ourselves with people who can help us step by step maximize these opportunities. It’s a process to scale a business as Kayla and I are learning and as I’ve learned venturing on my own in my early years of working in the gaming industry. Having skilled helped matters – A LOT!
It’s been years now, but members of our community and myself met wanting to get economic development off the ground. We kept hitting the glass ceiling at the council level and challenged to get it on our community council agenda for a vote as we desired and we got frustrated with the true lack of support truly needed to succeed to get our ideas into motion. Part of what I believe is the root of complacency we see in meeting attendance. We need a place for our voice to be heard and most of all respected and for our ideas to grow and incubate.
This has been a program I wished we got going a while back. With the kind of skills we have with our people who have businesses’ in our community, there are endless opportunities here. Just have to find those people highly skilled in this space to help us take advantage of all of the opportunities here.
Section 17 and tribal corporations
Endless opportunities there. The key things we need to get in place is our business ordinances to incorporate under our law with a court to adjudicate disputes. With the creation of more corporate boards, means more opportunities to surround ourselves with people who can help us learn how to leverage our sovereignty in business verticals and teach our youth & interested members how to structure and run businesses. I love the idea of getting us out of being the highest unemployed tribe in Northern California to the tribe with the highest employment rate and largest percentage of entrepreneurs.
Commercial Kitchen – Please after years of needing one, we still don’t have what we truly need in a commercial kitchen, which would have been done had our community been consulted. Its been needed to stage food prep for Sumeg for over 30 years and still needed today. If anyone wants to get any food products going, it requires a commercial kitchen, and Humboldt County is a foodie community and more people are looking for spaces.
RV – I had friends in town that couldn’t make it down our drive way. I visited them at our location. We only have wanter available and people look for power and septic also when picking locations. After we did some math, our spot there should be making some $500 – potentially 1 million annually if we had it set up to accommodate the tourist.
Cannabis & Plant Medicines
In 2015 I tried to get us to empower the council to start developing the ordinances we’d need to get into the industry where ever made sense as it unfolded. We were able to approve the research of ideas but the work never happened. I hit the road and did the work anyway as I was learning more about its uses in the treatment of PTSD, burns, cancer etc…. I visited the first Cannabis dispensary in Indian Country, Squaxin Island which happened to be started by my mom’s BFF’s son Travis Nabahe. Then onto Nevada and the first tribes who legalized and the tribes who were not raided by the authorities in CA because they had their regulations set up properly. Every new industry goes through this process it’s same road gaming took before it became fully legal. I also have recently had the fortune to collaborate with people who are connected to Israel who are the top cannabis researchers in the world and have discovered amazing efficacy, plus my technical advisor to NIH has the DEA license to research cannabis for PTSD. I was introduced to Florida state’s cannabis Czar to hopefully be included in a license to grow it for research since we are in the epicenter here in Humboldt. The DEA is ready for it under this administration, but we must apply for the license as a tribe. If we don’t do it, it goes to a different tribe. Other key opportunities exist if we choose to go down the road, but my position is to have research here with Humboldt State (a newly approved polytechnic college for cannabis research and sustainability) and tie the medicine to that research and provide education and dosages. People are still afraid of it but it’s becoming more and more accepted as time goes by. We should consider our own laws as tourist come to our area looking for cool places in Humboldt to connect with. I’m being introduced to a cannabis chef soon, that should be interesting. The state of California is ripe for a single branded company to lead the way which would be done under a tribal corporation. Other natural medicines via apothecary and new 3 D printing of medicines is also coming down the pike through “precision medicines,” I’ve learned about through my work at NIH. These are opportunities for sovereign governments to lead in the space of natural medicines as we should including alternative modality treatments such as stem cells to rebuild and heal our bodies naturally.
The Path of least resistance & recalibrating time
The Indigenous Habitat Institute: Before this nomination, I was helping get the frybread biz going with Kayla and spring boarding off the hemp wall project I did in 2016 with hemp enthusiast Annalisa Mitchell a local Trinidadian and Australian expert Klara Marosszeky. While taking care of mom, I did my best to broker hemp to make money on the side, and it was hard work with limited means to verify product and learning the industry. The supply chain has been a mess, so my strategist mind has been at work and I’ve been collaborating with an international hemp guru from Sweden who’s hooked me up with the French to develop a certified hempcrete construction training that will allow us to be prepared for this renewed emerging crop. We would be the first in the US to do it, and work with “certified materials” not yet available in the US. That’s lead me to the Tiny House movement for tribal and the homeless and houseless needs starting locally and other tribal communities, then acquiring the key partnerships to get this executed.. The tribes in this country are leading the way creating co-ops of farm land to supply the industry and actually participate in this new emerging crop. I would love to take our people on this journey. Some of you already have started on the first workshop we did. The French are very interested in working with the tribes and teaching us to build homes and hotels with hempcrete. the benefits of hempcrete include it being mold resistant, fire retardant, a 70% power reduction as it keeps you cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It also squesters carbon to purify our air, and detoxifies the ground as its grown. Its a totally sustainable super plant.
Not only was I raised with the remnants of our traditional values, I also grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. They are great and teaching us to look out after one another, do community service and food storage and preparedness. While I attended many other churches who also taught me different lessons, I learned to be a service to others, seek the needs of our neighbors, and to have a faith in a higher power. One of the biggest lessons as I see more clearly, judgement of self and others is a toxic behavior and one I seek to continually rid myself of whenever I see it crop up its ugly head. I value my family members who keep me in check! Today I look to our creator for wisdom and guidance in whatever endeavor my heart leads me to. I love praying for those who are in need of prayer for healing and strength. I will look for that same guidance in the work of our community. We all need a lot of grace to get it right, but it’s worth the peace of mind to do the work. I’m far from sainthood, and its hard at times when I get hurt, but at the end of the day, I know I love my family and I care deeply about the health of this community.
In 2016 I was tired of being overwhelmed by my personal struggles and gained weight as well. I finally hired a fitness trainer to help me get going. I lost 35 lbs and felt amazing. Then I gained 20 back during COVID and quality control of frybread, ha ha! I learned to eat better over all and I know the need for fitness as we age. I coined a “frybread fitness club” balancing my love for the foodie life and the need to stay fit. I hike Trinidad Head as often as I can and love to see a fitness gym around and love having access to farmers markets and clean food around here and to encourage us all to get fit! I see a lot of back and circulation problems in our membership and I know our elders need support with their aging bodies that UIHS does not provide. I hope we want to get fit together!
I’ve had my share. I use them as lessons to improve upon. Own what’s yours to own and move on. Mom has been great at letting me do that to be a better person. There have been and will be times when I get it wrong, so I believe its important to own that, and make it right where you can. I will need as we all do a lot of grace. I won’t choose to hate people, but I do hate the spirit of hate. Its so toxic for the hater and those it lands on. Mom always tells me to put the white light of God around me. Its so helpful. Getting beat up over false accusations has been surreal, but I learned how important justice is for people who are wrongly accused. I believe in a justice system if this community is going to heal. Why getting a justice system up to hold us accountable is good for us all.
Humor is medicine: As a side note: I have a very silly streak that relieves a lot of tension. I blame mom!! Ha ha. It comes out when I’m around other silly people. Not naming any names… but I have a cousin and when we get going….. Watch out! Humor is my/our medicine – truly! I hope we all get to experience that side of each other more and more. I’ve been around a few of you and we have some fun people in our community.
I hope this gave you a bit of insight. I am a bit ADD and never tire from the work that needs to be done. You don’t have to like me, but I am asking for a chance to show what our tribe can do when do it as “WE.”
Candidate for Chairwoman
Vote Lisa Sundberg Tribal Chairwoman
Accountability & Transparency
Show up so we can help ourselves make things better for all of us 🙂
How many times have we heard said, “We’ll look into it?”