Trustee Patricia A. Dixon is a member of the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians. She resides on the Pauma Indian reservation and was the primary caretaker of her mother Mrs. Lorena Dixon- a feisty woman with a frail body until February 2012. The death of her youngest brother 18 years ago provided her with what she stated was the “duty and privilege to share, in an intimate manner, with his widow the upbringing of his young sons” who were 11, 7 and 4 at the time of his death. Patti’s commitment to her family, tribe and culture has served her well but more importantly, she has been a role model to all of us who not only work in the field of academia or tribal communities but to all American Indians who meet her.
She is the first known American Indian to graduate from the University of San Diego earning a B.A. in American History with minors in religious studies and sociology, and an M.A. in American history. She has also done graduate work at St. Thomas Seminary, Denver, Colorado, graduate work in history at University of California, Riverside, graduate work in religious studies at the University of San Francisco, participated in the Pre-law school program for American Indians at the University of New Mexico, and took courses in the UCLA Tribal Learning Community & Educational Exchange (TLCEE) an innovative legal and general education program housed at the UCLA School of Law
Trustee Dixon’s extensive community/tribal involvement leaves little time for publications but she has supported or co-authored several papers: a book review on The Indian School on Magnolia Avenue for the UCLA American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 2013,Chapter 10, “The place of American Indian Boarding Schools in Contemporary Society,” in Cliff Trafzer, et al. Boarding School Blues: Revisiting American Indian Educational Experiences. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2006. Susan H. Mitchell, The Legacy of the Luiseno: An Indigenous Tribe of San Diego County, San Diego: San Diego County School District, 1996. Henry Rodriguez and Patricia Dixon, editors. Co-wrote with Patricia Nelson a work for the San Diego City Schools, American Indian Significance in United States History, 1970. A book review for the Southern California Quarterly on El Capitan in 2015, and worked with the Rincon Storytelling Youth Project for the bilingual publication (Luiseno/English) Why the Stinkbug is Black.
Research in Progress: a book project, “Luiseno Knowledge: Historical, Cultural and Political Ways of the Luiseno People,” with Professor Edward D. Castillo, CSU Sonoma, and Professor Joely Proudfit, CSU San Marcos.
For more than fourteen years she served on the tribal council for Pauma, with four of those years as tribal chair. Served as Acting Tribal Administrator for Pauma Band of Mission Indians; for ten years she sat on the Sherman Indian High School Board, with six of those years as School Board President. Patricia acted as the main faculty advisor to the Indian students at Palomar College; organized and presented an in-service workshop to elementary school teachers of the San Jacinto school district on “Indian History, Values, and Philosophy”; was a member of the United Indian Women’s Club, which was a part of the National Federation of Women’s Clubs; assisted in the establishment of a counseling program for American Indian Marines confined at the Camp Pendleton Correctional Facility; Served on the Luiseno/Cupeno intertribal NAGPRA coalition; appointed by the Assembly Speaker for the State of California to the State’s Curriculum Commission for four years; was a reader for Indian Health Services scholarships in Rockville, Maryland 2009; served on the advisory board for the American Indian Diabetic Teleophthalmology Grant Program for two years 2002-2003; guest lecturer on three different occasions for the Department of Defense American Indian Cultural Course at Camp Pendleton and Oakland (2002-2008); was one of the original members of the Institutional Review Board for the Indian Health Consortium; functioned as a member of the California Indian Legal Services Board both as its vice-chair and chair.
Trustee Dixon has been a professor of American Indian Studies for 40 plus years at Palomar College. Patricia also taught at Alliant University and for about twenty years at San Diego State University, all the while, actively serving on numerous academic and community boards. She has been integral to the development and sustainability of one of the oldest American Indian Studies programs, at a two-year college, in the country. Patricia has been a professor of American Indian Studies for 40 plus years at Palomar College.
She does not limit her efforts to her own campus; she has offered her guidance and support to a variety of American Indian Studies programs throughout the region. She was instrumental in the development and/or hire of American Indian faculty at both USD and CSUSM. In sum, her work has contributed to taking Palomar College courses to rural reservations, establishing tribal libraries, educating a range of generations and sharing with her colleagues the running of a Palomar-JOM summer program for eight to ten years at the Pala Mission School which Professor Dixon described as “integrating a curriculum of native cultures and western academics.”
Professor Dixon now chairs her department, American Indian Studies and American Studies, while also serving as chair for the Pauma Band of Luiseno Indians Education, Repatriation, Library, and Policies Committee; sits on the Board for the Rincon Indian Health Center; Past Chair, Native American Advisory Council (NAC) at CSUSM but still maintains a seat on NAC at CSUSM.
In the Fall of 2012 Professor Dixon was acknowledged and honored by the University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences as one of five recipients for “Remarkable Leaders in Education”; and also by KPBS and the Union Bank of California, along with Leroy Elliott of Manzanita, as local heroes for Native American Heritage month for their contributions to San Diego and their efforts to strengthen their communities and making San Diego a better place to live.
The above is only a partial list of the numerous committees and boards in which Patricia participated or currently works on. Her willingness to take on leadership roles impacts the lives of individuals and communities in San Diego and beyond. I can only tell you how respected she is in so many different circles because of her commitment to serve and commitment to lead. Although her service on formal boards is commendable and inspiring, it is her work in tribal communities that I am most inspired and impressed by. Her family are singers of the traditional songs, practitioners of the sweat lodge, and deeply respectful of the culture and practices of the Pauma Luiseno people. She makes herself available to serve in her cultural responsibilities regardless of time constraints and her busy work schedule.
Ultimately, Trustee Dixon credits her late mother, Lorena Majel Dixon for her philosophy, “to take joy in what you do, to serve humbly, but to fight courageously for those whose voices are not heard.”