The Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians today announced the passing of Norman James Pico Sr. Mr. Pico, 70, passed quietly at his home on the Pechanga Indian Reservation on Friday, October 8.
Born December 17, 1939 in Arlington, California with twin brother Gabriel, Mr. Pico followed a family tradition of service to the Pechanga people. Elected to the Pechanga Gaming Commission in 1994, Mr. Pico went on to serve as chairman of the commission for ten of sixteen years. He was serving his fourth five-year term when he passed.
Under Mr. Pico’s leadership, the Pechanga Gaming Commission earned national prominence for its regulation of the resort, which was named “one of the top 10 regulated facilities in the United States” by the National Indian Gaming Association. Tribal regulators from throughout the United States regularly visit the Pechanga Resort & Casino to learn from the gaming commission’s practices and operations.
Considered an elder statesman in Pechanga politics, Mr. Pico served the Tribe for decades as a member of the Tribal Council, Vice President of the Silver Feathers Committee, member of the Tribal Water Board, and member of the committee responsible for drafting the Tribe's constitution and bylaws. Mr. Pico was the longestrunning elected Pechanga official.
“Commissioner Pico was a highly respected Pechanga elder,” said Pechanga Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro. “He linked our political past to the present and had one foot firmly planted in both. As a Commissioner, he had a commitment to the Band and to the mission of being a regulator that set the standard. He truly had a larger than life persona and his passing leaves an irreplaceable void."
Mr. Pico also represented Pechanga as a member of the board of the Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health and a board member of Indian Child and Family Services.
For the last 15 years, Mr. Pico has chaired the Pechanga Pow Wow Committee.
The 4th of July weekend event is considered one of the most publ icly attended American Indian gatherings in the country, hosting an estimated 70,000 guests from throughout the United States. Mr. Pico was initiated into the Golden State Gourd Society and enjoyed participating as a member of the society at pow wows and gourd society events.
“My dad believed at his core that by Indian people gathering, we enriched each other with ideas, culture, unity, and strength,” said Randy Pico, Norman’s oldest surviving son. “He deeply cherished and respected the traditions and rich history of the pow wow.”
Pico's father, Daniel, served as tribal chairman for more than 25 years and was also leader of the Southern California Mission Indian Federation. Pico’s twin brother, Gabriel, served as tribal chairman for ten years.
Mr. Pico is a descendent of several notable Temecula Valley historical figures including Luis Flores and Carlos Pico who played football with Jim Thorpe at Carlisle Indian School for “the” Pop Warner; and Luis Wolf, merchant, magistrate and postmaster of Temecula. Earlier this year Norman and his family were recognized by the City of Perris and the County of Riverside as the Pioneer Family of the Year.
Mr. Pico lived in Perris, California and the Pechanga Reservation most of his life. He attended Perris High School, graduating in 1957. After high school Norman served in the U.S. Army as a member of the famous 82nd Airborne Division, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment known as “Devils in Baggy Pants.” His early working career included being a journeyman for Operating Engineer Union AFLCIO Local 12. He retired from the Southern California Gas Company in 1994 as a field locator in the damage control department.
Mr. Pico is survived by his wife of 51 years, Deborah, three children, Randy, Norman, Jr., and Kathy Saglania, 12 grandchildren, and one great grandchild. Mr. Pico lost a son, Daniel, in 1982.
A ceremony will be held at the Pechanga Tribal Government Center on the Pechanga Indian Reservation on Thursday, October 14, 2010 at 2 p.m.
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