Honorable Robert Smith
Chairperson, Pala Band of Mission Indians
For more than two decades, Robert Smith has dedicated himself toward improving the way of life for the members of the Pala Band of Mission Indians. As Tribal Chair, he played an integral role in the complex negotiations that resulted in Governor Wilson’s signing of the Pala-State Compact in 1998, a groundbreaking agreement that legalized gaming on tribal lands and helped to ensure the continued economic freedom and independence of tribes throughout the state. In 2004, Mr. Smith was one of five tribal leaders to work side-by-side with Governor Schwarzenegger to come to an agreement on a set of compacts that benefited both the tribes and the state of California. Chairman Smith was intimately involved in all decisions leading to the construction and development of the Tribe’s Pala Casino Resort and Spa, which opened in 2000.
Mr. Smith takes great pride in being actively involved in the community and lends his time and energy to a variety of organizations. He serves as a board member for the Vivian Banks Charter School Parent Advisory Board and for the National Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Board, and he is a member of the National Fire Protection Agency, the California State Fireman Association, the National Indian Gaming Association, the National Congress of American Indians and is a delegate on the National Bureau of Indian Tribal Leaders Budget Committee. He is also chairman of the Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association, Indian Health Council for Northern San Diego County, Californian Indian Manpower Consortium and the Cupa Cultural Center.