Elaini Vargas


Year of Graduation: 2019

Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Global Studies focused in Development in Native American Studies 

Internships:  1)Kashia Band of Pomo Indians Department of Environment and Planning 2) Inter-Tribal Agricultureal Council

Current Position: Kashia Cultural and Historic Preservation Officer (THPO- Tribal Historic Preservation Officer) and Environmental Technician 

Job Description: I work in both the Environmental and Cultural departments. In both departments I am responsible for projects directly related to our community. As a Kashia Environmental Tech, I contribute mostly to our Marine Ecology Program where we are setting up citizen science, land stewardship opportunities and Kashia based K-12 education curriculum. I work closely with other KDEP staff in our Santa Rosa office as well as manage a crew on our Trust land (Rancheria/Reservation) located in Annapolis. In both departments I travel to and from our aboriginal territory at least 3 times a week. As the THPO I respond to consultation letters sent from federal, state, county, city, public and private organizations who are proposing development projects in or closely around our aboriginal territory. I survey project areas for archeological remains such as midden soil, artifacts, features, etc. as well as traditional and cultural important resources. My job as THPO is to protect these sites by collaborating with developers and monitoring the construction.

How Sustainability is Present within your Position: As a tribal person working for my Tribal community, I have come understand more deeply how sustainability is not just something we incorporate into our lives and our work, but it is innately within us. We are the original stewards of the land and everyday I go into work I am reminded of just that. I protect sites, resources, places, and people every day from further development and erosion. I clean up old dump sites from logging camps that ripped our forests and lands to pieces. I also work with the Kashia Elementary youth on projects that encourage their futures.

Best Memory at Sonoma State University: Presenting my solo project at the symposium for the Koret Foundation. I had never done anything like this, it was not even my idea but I stepped out of my comfort zone. I faced adversities I had not expected and exceeded my own and others expectations by winning an award for Community Engagement. I shared this moment with my friends, family, and supportive professor.