San Diego

H. Paul Cuero, Jr. is a leader, mentor and cultural icon of the Campo Band of the Kumeyaay Nation. Since the age of 19, he has been involved in various aspects of tribal government, serving as treasurer and chair, and currently serving on the executive committee as vice chair. He played a crucial role in drafting, analyzing and refining the California Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. In 2010, KPBS recognized him as an American Indian Heritage Month honoree.

Chairman Cuero is nationally known for his mastery of a cycle of songs named for the takut. These cultural bird songs, of which there are 300 in the takut cycle, are a metaphor for life. Chairman Cuero and a group of Kumeyaay youth performed the bird songs with the San Diego Symphony Orchestra in a composition that bridged the gap between traditional indigenous and contemporary American cultures. He was also invited to sing at the White House during President Bill Clinton’s tenure, at the opening of the National Museum of the American Indian and at the pre-game ceremony for the 1998 Super Bowl in San Diego.

Chairman Cuero is a leader in educating young people about bird singing and other powerful traditions of the Kumeyaay people. From an early age, he sought guidance from the elders in his pursuit of knowledge about tribal history and mythology. Now, as an elder himself, Chairman Cuero works to convey not only the tribal histories, but also the philosophy and spirituality implicit in them. He is a staunch advocate for education as a path to leadership and cultural pride for Indian youth.

In recognition of his dedication to serving and celebrating the Kumeyaay, other Tipai American-Indian cultures and indigenous communities all over the world, the Board of Trustees of the California State University and San Diego State University are honored to confer upon H. Paul Cuero, Jr. the honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters.