Summer Herrera

Summer Paa’ila Herrera grew up on the Pechanga Indian reservation, recently residing and working in Riverside, CA. She is a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of California Riverside majoring in Studio Art and minoring in Native Studies. Summer has had a solo exhibition of work in the San Diego Public Library, Downtown. She has participated in group exhibitions including “Artist Together” at William D. Cannon Gallery in Carlsbad, CA and “Campus Creatives” at The California Center of the Arts in Escondido, CA.

Public works include “Traditions We Carry” and "Noyóku Pélaq" both on display in the admissions office of MiraCosta College, Oceanside, CA. Summer is currently working on a small series of works for her upcoming senior exhibition at the Sweeney Art Gallery, Riverside, CA in the spring of 2024. In her own words:

Míiyuyam, notúng Paa'ila yaqáa. Noon páyomkawish ‘atáax. Nokíiyam Temeekungay pí Pechaangay. In 2004, my family was disenrolled from the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. Making me acutely aware of the inherent politicalness of my identity as a Payómkawish/Luiseño woman; and a product of California's history of missionization, boarding school, poverty, reservations, and disenfranchisement.

I contemplate the impact of legally authenticated Native identities that exist through US Federal processes and Tribal Membership for the unrecognized and disenrolled Indians. In contrast to the cultural validity of practicing contemporary California Native ontologies within your specific communitie. As an individual, I am caught between two government entities exercising my unrecognized and denied sovereignty to critique a genocidal system. Through visual forms, I aim to expose this history as my truth, inviting viewers to share my feelings of discomfort through the hypocrisy of my lived experiences.

IVDM is excited to have Herrera’s Perspective as part of Native Voices | Native Truths: A Contemporary Experience.

You can find Herrera’s work on Instagram @sumthingforthearts, on Padlet (a portfolio website) at and through her UC Riverside email at

Perspective, 2023

digital photography

Perspective is a curated portrait of myself and my sister both in Páyomkawichum/Luiseño regalia. Within this frame, I hope to resonate with Southern California Natives the lived ideology of what is “traditional” as Tribal people. The notion of “tradition” is often fixed to a romanticized or generalized past, creating discrepancies at odds with our contemporary lives. Counterally, an embodiment of old ways can also be criticized while existing unclearly amongst a patriarchal American society. I question where the authenticity of contemporary Native people’s identities lies both politically and culturally. In an era post enforced blood quantums, DNA testing, and an epidemic of disenrollment, how will the way Natives define themselves today sustain a future of Native peoples, languages, and cultures.