Anthony Pico is a nationally recognized authority and leader on American Indian sovereignty and self-governance, Indian gaming and tribal economic development. For more than two decades he has been a strong voice for Indian self-reliance, economic development and diversification.
Mr. Pico served for most of the past two decades as the elected leader of his tribe, the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians of Alpine, Calif. In January 2011, Mr. Pico again assumed the title and responsibilities of Viejas Tribal Chairman, following a tribal election.
Under his stewardship and vision, the Viejas Band achieved national and state recognition for its economic and social progress. The Bandís business operation, Viejas Enterprises, includes the Viejas Casino, Viejas Outlet Center, two RV Parks, three radio stations, an entertainment & production company, two hotel development partnerships and the first Native American owned bank in California. Mr. Pico currently sits on the tribeís Finance Committee which oversees and provides recommendations on the tribeís business enterprises and future economic development.
Mr. Pico was a driving force and spokesman in the landmark California ballot initiatives in 1998-2000 that brought economic growth to many of the 107 federally recognized tribes in the state and San Diego County. Pico served as co-chair of the Proposition 1A initiative to amend the California Constitution, enabling tribes to engage in gaming on tribal land.
A Kumeyaay leader and traditional bird singer, steeped in the customs and traditions of his people, Mr. Pico leads by consensus, example and a commitment to the well-being of the Viejas people.
Mr. Pico recently served as a director of the Native American Rights Fund (NARF), a nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations, and individuals nationwide. In 2007, Mr. Pico was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the Gene Autry Center. Based in Los Angeles, the Center celebrates the American West through three important institutions: the Southwest Museum of the American Indian, Museum of the West and the Institute for the Study of the American West. He is also a director for Borrego Springs Bank, one of the first American Indian owned banks in the United States. Mr. Pico was named the National Indian Gaming Association (NIGA) Man of the Year in 1997 and received the organization's 2007 John Kieffer Award demonstrating a lifetime of achievement and commitment to Indian Gaming. Pico is also a recipient of the prestigious 2008 Award for Public Service from the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution.
Mr. Pico has an associate of arts degree from Grossmont College in El Cajon, California, and an honorary doctor of humane letters from Long Island University, New York. He served as a U.S. Army paratrooper in Vietnam, where he received a number of Distinguished Service medals.