ITY 2016 Core Crew

Marc Chavez, Program Director/Founder
A graduate of the University of California, San Diego, Marc has 15 years as Founder/Directer of and Young Native Scholars. Establishing partnerships with top universities, tribal organizations and communities, Marc aims to provide world-class educational opportunities to youth and indigenize the educational experience. Marc leads in curriculum design, programming, partner collaborations, and fundraising. In addition to California's flagship programs, Marc has procured international initiatives in Panama for over 10 years and develops cultural exchanges with Hawaii and Jamaica. Marc is an avid surfer and spends much of his time with nature.

Manny Lieras, Asst. Director and Summer Coordinator
A graduate of San Diego State University, Manny has over 15 Years working as Indigenous mentor and program coordinator for rural & urban youth. Manny has created an extensive network with California and national tribal leaders to combat issues within American Indian education, land rights, fishing and hunting rights, Indian Child Welfare, Tribal gaming, and sovereignty. A well known artist and singer in American Indian drum circles, Manny is also the producer of Injunuity , a mix of animation, music, and real thoughts from real people exploring our world from the Native American perspective. Injunuity has aired nationally on public broadcasting. Manny assists InterTribalYouth leadership, fundraising and crowd sourcing for Native Like Water. #chiefboat #Mannpower

LA Jolla Indian reservation, luiseno territory with Marla. Nature is our gardian.

Marla Mahkimetas, Assist. Director, San Diego Summer Resident Program (San Diego)
Marla has over 24 years mentoring, educating Indigenous youth about their culture, language, and life skills.  Marla lives a drug and alcohol free life and is a mother and a grandmother. Marla takes the time to visit with her elders, listening to stories, language, and life lessons.  In addition, Marla has traveled around the world educating herself about Indigenous people, medicine people, sharing what she learned and broadening her own perspective of cultures.  Marla continued her university education by attending workshops, conferences, seminars for the past 24 years. Marla is also a traditional language instructor for her tribe. Marla is versed on various topics pertaining to youth, education, language, historical trauma and earning ones way.


Elena Hood, Summer Resident College Preparation Coordinator, San Diego UC San Diego’s inaugural director of the Inter-Tribal Resource Center, Elena is an enrolled member of the Absentee Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and descendent of the Pauma Band of Luiseño Indians and Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. For the past nine years, she has served as program manager for The Pechanga School as a resource teacher and developer of specialty program. As an undergraduate of UC Berkeley, she later went on to earn a master’s degree in education at Harvard University. She is currently a doctoral student in UC San Diego’s Education Studies Program. Elena has sat on the InterTribal Youth (ITY) / Young Native Scholars (YNS) Advisory Board and served as summer coordinator and helped initiate ITY's Panama International cultural exchange in 2005.

Kris Hohag, Program Assistant Youth Specialist: is an educator, artist and organizer who has been working with Native American youth and environmental issues for over a decade.  Kris received his B.S. in Sociology from the University of California, Irvine and earned a Masters of Education degree in Teaching and Curriculum from the University of Washington, with a graduate certificate in Education for Environment and Community from Islandwood.  Upon returning home to Bishop, CA he spent time teaching, working with local youth and getting his roots set in the community before being elected to the Bishop Paiute Tribal Council from 2013-2015.  Kris was instrumental in the creation of a brand new community radio station on the Bishop Paiute reservation and he currently produces and hosts a local radio show to educate listeners on community wellness through healthy eating and active living.  In addition, he is an avid writer, qigong practitioner, and hip-hop artist.

Kinsinta's coconut beverage of her choice. With ity in Ocho Rios, Jamaicasweet16. 

Kinsinta Joseph, Youth Resident Mentor San Diego, Nor Cal, Jamaica
Mentor extraordinaire, Kinsinta Joseph . Daughter of Patricia Joseph, Hupa and Karuk, and father Thomas Joseph Sr. Paiute Shoshone, Mono and Italian. Always taught that ceremony is who we are and where we come from, Kinsinta learned to prioritize who and how she builds relationships. She loves to travel and learn and share with other cultures. She feels it's not only her passion but feels its her duty. She loves the land and is grateful for the opportunity for connections and believes in the many good things to come. Kinsinta is currently attending College of the Redwoods.

Deviina with ITY on the Guna Yala Reservation, Panama

Deviina with ITY on the Guna Yala Reservation, Panama

Devina Miller, Resident Youth Mentor
Devina is a 2015 graduating senior at Humboldt State University (HSU) in Sociology with a minor in Native American Studies. She works closely with many Indigenous communities and has many years advocating for Native issues on campus. She has many years mentoring youth, exposing them to higher education and creating spaces for cultural empowerment. Living among the redwoods, she loves outdoor adventuring and challenging herself physically.

Ilima fighting her way to the top

Ilima Lei-MacFarlane, Athletic Mentor, Presenter is a 2014 graduate from San Diego State where she majored in Cultural Anthropology and ran the Pacific Islander Student Association. She went on to receive her M.A. in Liberal Arts and Sciences with a focus on indigenous issues. Originally from the island of O’ahu, this Native-Hawaiian has always dreamed of becoming an educator. However, her life took a slight detour when she began a successful a career as a professional MMA fighter. Now 6-0 and fighting for Bellator MMA, Ilima still continues to bring awareness to indigenous issues with hope and determination.

Jules Jackson, Volunteer Recreation Class Support
As an undergrad Jules founded the Native American Student's Association at Villanova University where she served as the Student Government Association's Diversity Chairperson and was also a United States Marine Option Midshipmen and Division I Track & Field athlete. As an Indigenous Right's Activist she has helped to protect 68 acres of her Nanticoke ancestral burial grounds and spent over a decade coaching youth athletics and working in environmental protection. As Secretary for the international organization Surfrider Foundation's Delaware Chapter Jules works to protect her local waterways linking through her Tidewater People's heritage and is incredibly excited to connect to Native Like Water. Jules is currently taking a Sustainable Development course through Columbia University and is applying for Fall 2016 Law School Admission.

Larry "Moto" Banegas, Native Like Water "Honored Elder"
Papa Moto is the President and founder of He served as a member of the Tribal Council for the Barona Band of the Kumeyaay for many years. Larry is a graduate of Cal State Long Beach with BA in Speech and Communication. He also has a Master’s Degree in Social Work from San Diego State University. He was raised on the Barona reservation and teaches Kumeyaay culture and tradition to the community. He has taught California Indian history and traditional knowledge at D.Q. University at Sycuan and presently sits on the AIR Programs Board. Moto joined ITY's inaugural "Native Like Water" California-Hawaii Delegation in 2015. Moto is committed to guiding the youth back to the ocean. Moto will also take part in ITY's traveling multi-media art exhibit: "Native Like Water" in 2016. All appreciate his guidance, vision, musical gifts and song.

unity energy

Jerome Gross; Mind, Body, Spirit, Yoga: Jerome has been in private practice as a Hypnotherapist since 1995 and has been teaching yoga for 15 years and with ITY for over 13 years. As Founder / Director of the Effulgence Academy, Jerome teaches this specialized mind-body-wellness routine at fitness centers and holistic health centers as well as to individual clients since 2002. Mr. Gross also taught physical education for two years and developed programs for San Diego City School's Race and Human Relations and Health Integration Program. Students are presented with the tools and strategies to develop positive qualities and highest potential physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Jerome has studied and experienced native traditions, making it relative cultural needs and personal success. The specific tools and strategies taught in the mini lessons will culminate into a routine that Jerome developed for the San Diego Public Schools and in private practice as a spiritual counselor and therapist, called the Process of EFFULGENCE™

Jeffery L. Jackson, Self Defense Martial Arts: , "Gentle Warrior Approach" to Self-Defense. Executive Director of the BRIDGE, Native American Chaplin and former National Champion, Jackson practice is based in meditation, respect, protection of yourself and family.

Stan Rodriguez' ,  Traditional Tribal Gaming Curriculum and Culture.  Stan is from the Ipay Kumeyaay Nation of Santa Ysabel Reservation, in San Diego. Stan has played a crucial role in the cultural revival going on in San Diego and in sharing the Kumeyaay Culture with government and municipalities needing cultural understanding. Stan is an instructor of the Kumeyaay language and culture at Kumeyaay Community College and receives a continual stream of invites to speak at universities, schools and communities across the state of California.

ThE man and myth, Cliff repping for Na kama kai, oahau HawaiinI

Clifford Kapono, Youth Mentor, Indigenous Science (Hawaii and San Diego)
Ph.D. Candidate in Chemistry at UC San Diego Chemistry.  Cliff is embodiment of "Native Like Water" in the flesh and soul. Sharing Indigenous Science and bridging university education with Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK), Cliff travels the world to provide equity in the world of science. At UCSD, Cliff studies the health of ocean reef. One of the great accomplishments of Cliff is his mentorship and service with the Polynesian Voyaging Society and the Hokule'a Traditional Sailing Vessel.  Cliff is an avid surfer, waterman, and artist with a successful practices of sovereignty and cultural ways. Cliff led the 2015 Inaugural InterTribal Youth's Exchange with Hawaii's Na Kama Kai Program. Please visit some of Cliff's video portraits on our video page.

Ecology is a reflection, picture of ourselves. Andrew on location

Ecology is a reflection, picture of ourselves. Andrew on location

Andrew Pittman, Assistant Outfitter, is the co-founder and Owner of A & K Video. He has been active with videography and video editing since the age of 13. He is a Cahuilla Native from the Los Coyotes Indian Reservation in Warner Springs and feels a strong connection between his ancestral roots and his passion for video work. Andrew also currently works for his tribe's Environmental Department. He creates maps, organizes an annual Earth Day, and loves protecting his tribe's resources.

Caroline Collins, Writing Instructor (MCLW) San Diego: Holding an MFA, Caroline is a third year Communication doctoral student at UC San Diego whose research interrogates the intersectionality of cultural memory, identity, and media especially as they relate to particular notions of ‘citizenship’ and human rights.  She is currently working on her qualifying papers, several educational activism projects, and a research based documentary. Caroline and her team at La Clase Magica has developed a culturally relevant writing curriculum for InterTribal Youth. More here 

Kelly Ferns, Writing Instructor Assistant (MCLW Class), San Diego: As a graduate of UC San Diego, and a Master's student at CSU San Marcos, Kelly is advocate of social equity and change for students of unique populations.  She has worked to support students in a variety of ways; including assisting students through the college admissions process, building of technological skills while infusing Kumeyaay language and culture, and developing a special education program at the elementary school level.   As the Young Native Scholars Writers Workshop teaching assistant, Kelly will encourage and assist students as they examine and create media that investigates and reclaims complex notions of collectivity, belonging and identity.

Trisha "Mama T" Gonsalves, Assistant Coordinator, Hawaii: Outfitter & Nutritional Wellness
Mama T is a passionate advocate of using sustainable practices to grow food organically and use food as medicine. "Ancient ways in modern days" is her motto. She was brought to Hawaii 11 years ago from San Diego on a singing tour.  She quickly fell in love with the islands, the people, and the Aloha way of life, and feels very blessed to call Hawaii home. She teaches classes throughout the islands and has a regular cooking segment on a morning television program.  Mama T has a background in early child development and directed inner-city youth programs in San Francisco and San Diego. Her passion is to teach healthy ways to eat and live and advocates that choosing native foods free of pesticides or processed with chemicals is imperative for sustainable health.

Tara Ruttenberg, NLW-REVIVE Tours, Leader & Host is a teacher and life-long student of sustainable Earth and human wellbeing, specializing in educational surf travel in Central America. A nomad-activist by nature, Tara's purpose-driven travels have taken her around the world, while finding home in Costa Rica for the past 10 years. Her PhD research focuses on alternatives to sustainable development, with an emphasis on decolonizing surf tourism. A writer by trade, Tara created Tarantula Surf as a space for authentic story sharing and engaging with ideas and practices for a more beautiful world. 
As a group host, Tara's passion for indigenous knowledge and non-Western cosmovisions, combined with a critical perspective on cross-cultural interaction in surf tourism scenarios, helps travelers step into their authentic selves and open their hearts to new experiences by learning to see the world through different eyes.