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, the Viejas Band has achieved national recognition for its economic and social progress, notably through its development of inter-tribal business ventures such as Four Fires and Three Fires LLC, tribal coalitions in the development of Marriott Residence Inns in Washington, D.C. and Sacramento, California.
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. Pico obtained an A.A. degree from Grossmont College in El Cajon, CA and an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Long Island University in New York. He served as a U.S. Army paratrooper in Vietnam, and received several Distinguished Service medals. [Source: California Indian Education]