At the annual celebration of Southern California’s Native American Cultures event known as the Dragonfly Gala, Bill Madrigal Sr. was honored for his efforts to preserve and promote Cahilla language and culture last Saturday, hosted by the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in the reservation’s community center.
Madrigal accepted the Dragonfly Award along with members of his extended family.
He offered words of gratitude to the coordinators of the event, particularly Ernest and June Siva, and the Dorothy Ramon Learning Center, and pointed out, “Nobody does anything alone. My family is a part of this community; our elders and those who’ve passed are proud.”
Madrigal recently received the Society for California Archaeology’s California Indian Heritage Award this year (the first award was given in 2000 to Katherine Siva Saubel), and two years after Dorothy Ramon Learning Center founder Ernest Siva won it in 2016.
That award honors California Indians who strive to preserve their cultural heritage through maintaining cultural centers, publications, and outreach to promote their culture.
On Aug. 11, Madrigal was awarded Dorothy Ramon Learning Center’s prestigious Dragonfly Award.
Madrigal, a Mountain Cahilla and Luiseño member of the Cahuilla Band of Indians in Anza, where he served as tribal business manager and authored a grant to build the tribe’s first-ever community center and administrative offices in the 1980s. He taught Luiseño language classes at the former tribal college Deganawidah-Quetzealcoatl (DQ) University in Davis, and presents programs on Native language and culture around the state, according to writer Michael Lerch.
A letter from one of Madrigal’s former students, Chandler Stump, a resident of Spain, was read aloud: “I’ll always be very grateful for what you taught my brothers and me. You shared the Payomkawichum and Cahilla traditions with us, and always made us feel part of the community. You and your family will always have a special place in my heart, and I hope you know how much your honest good work has shaped my own ways of working and carrying on traditions. — Nessun, Chandler.”
In reading from the nomination, Siva said, “Today, Bill and his family continue to serve the Indian community through bird songs, dances and stories. They give generously of their time to save and share the Cahuilla culture. They have done this at nearly (if not) all of our Dragonfly Galas, and they appear at many events all over the southland,” and praised Madrigal’s wife Monica and their nine children for being high achievers.
“Bill and his family are living examples of the mission of Dorothy Ramon Learning Center: to save and to share,” Siva said.
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