Passing of Ronald James Wermuth

Ronald James Wermuth


June 16, 1942 – Aug. 24, 2013


Ronald was born to James and Bernice Wermuth on June 16, 1942 at Miss Freise’s Maternity Home in Bakersfield, Calif. He spent his childhood years in old Kernville and the Kern River Valley, and enjoyed the stories told by his elders of his Native American heritage. He was Paiute-Shoshone, Kawaiisu, Koso and Yaqui, and Miwok on his father’s side. He went to Bakersfield High School in his teens, and in 1959, joined the Navy in which he served four years. Shortly after, he joined the Coast Guard (which he greatly loved) and served six years. Leaving the service, he subsequently worked in various “oil patch” jobs such as Enserve Co., and Timec working as a foreman doing turnarounds and other construction jobs. In 1980 he met the love of his life, Carol, while out “honky tonkin’” and asked her to dance.  Together, they created a bond, becoming best friends as well as a devoted husband and wife being married in Bishop, Calif. in 1983.  At that time they moved to a ranch on Mustang Mesa above Bishop with no telephone or TV!  After a year, they moved to Benton Calif., near the Nevada border. Soon after, needing work, they moved back to Kernville, and in 1985, he became Construction Supervisor for the Ivec Refinery in Bakersfield, and also in Bakersfield, from 1985 to 1989, he was employed as a Construction engineer/ manager and estimator for John Brown Engineering assigned to the San Miguel Project, an off-shore project located on the central coast. Near this time, Ron wished to serve his tribe (the Kern Valley Indian Community) and helped to re-organize the council on which he served as secretary and then Chairman for well over 20 years. In about 1985, an event occurred that was to change both he and Carol’s lives forever. Paiute healer Raymond Stone approached him at a funeral service for his brother, and asked him if he would like to come to Big Pine at his home to sweat in his lodge. He and his wife attended almost weekly for over five years, until Raymond, as Ron’s spiritual teacher, decided that he was ready to start his own lodge and bring the sweat ceremony back to the Kern River Valley. Ron and Carol found that the “Red Road” fulfilled that spiritual void in their lives and found incredible friendships that became family in the truest way. In 1987, Ron created the Monache gathering (held every May above R-Ranch which has endured for 26 years), and at the same time, formed the Monache Intertribal Association, a non-profit designed to serve the Native community in the Kern River Valley and others. In the spiritual and political mode, he had many achievements in service to his people such as: he helped make the sweat lodge ceremonies available to Native American inmates at several California prisons; he was appointed by the Native American Heritage Commission as a “Most Likely Descendant” for Kern County and was authorized to take Native American remains from the Kern County Coroner for reburial in a spiritually and culturally sensitive manner; he worked as a volunteer with the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research and the  Resources Agency to develop legislation aimed at increasing the protection of sacred tribal lands; he was appointed by the State Forester to the California Department of Forestry Native American Advisory Board, representing Kern, Tulare, and Inyo Native American Tribes and organizations and also advised the CDF regarding impacts of activities on Tribal interests; he felt his greatest honor was to be elected by 22 central California tribes then appointed by the US Secretary of the Interior, Bruce Babbitt to serve as a member of the Advisory Council on California Indian Policy. He was then appointed by his fellow members as the Cultural Task Force Chairman for the entire state, and was a member of the Federal Recognition, Economic Development, Community Services / Governance/Census and Tribal Termination task forces; conducted a comprehensive study of the social, economic and political status of California Indians, and helped conduct statewide public hearings, using tribal testimony, consultants and independent research. This Advisory Council completed a report in book form and made recommendations to the Congress of the US pursuant to Public law 102-416; he had over 25 years experience working with California Native American tribes and organizations in an elected, appointed and volunteer capacity. Near this time period, he arranged with the Forest Service, to write a grant to find a site and begin construction on the first Native American cultural center in the Kern River Valley on Forest Service land. The tribe had a joyous groundbreaking with Congressman Bill Thomas assisting. With the help of many others, including the Tribal Council and community, the center opened after several years and was named the Nuui Cunni Cultural Center and is operated by the dedicated people of the Paiute Council. Incredibly, Ron achieved this all while being a working man! In 1989, he took a statewide test to be hired by Calif. State Dept. of Water Resources and came out number 8 of 4000 applicants! He then worked on various projects as a Construction Supervisor and these included: The Golden Trout Wilderness Fish Barrier project in the Southern Sierras, The Merced River Salmon Habitat Enhancement project on which he was the supervisor and restored 4 miles on the Merced River to its original spawning habitat, he worked on the installation of the coastal pipeline in consultation with the coastal Chumash, and, among many other projects, worked on the Devil Canyon Generating plant and the Pearblossom  Dam  Pumping Plant.


Ron will be sorely missed by his wife, Carol, his entire Monache family and friends and all who knew this loving, remarkable man who achieved so much in life. He is survived by his wife, Carol, daughters: Wendy Ireland, Jo Ann Trevino, and Sandi McCoy, son, Brett Holmes, sisters, Chickie Joseph and Patty Burke., grandchildren: C.J. McCoy, RaeAnn McCoy, Wendy Holmes, Amanda Holmes, Hollie Wilson, Chloe Holmes, Jerad Curtis,  Danielle Curtis and Lotus Rose. Great-grandchildren: Elijah Brown and Jaeden Curtis.


Ron so loved all his family, kids, grandkids and would do anything to “be there” for them in every way. This included his Sweat, Monache and Bear family also.


Ron greatly loved all animals, but especially his cats. He is now with all the kitties he lost in life, including his beloved Cisco.


Ron gently passed on to his loving Creator after fighting the good fight with cancer on August 24, 2013.


Services were held on Saturday, August 31,  at the Nuui Cunni cultural center. Interment was at the Kern Valley Cemetery on September 1, 2013 at 9:00 AM, with a remembrance reception to follow at the cultural center.


In lieu of flowers, any donations to the Monache Intertribal Association in Ron’s honor would be sincerely appreciated.

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