Ervin Ray Lent Sr.
1952 - 2021
Born November 27, 1952 in Bishop, California to Alvin Virgil Lent and Marjorie Norma Dick/Lent, he peacefully went to sleep in Christ on October 11, 2021 at 6:00 p.m. at his home in Bridgeport, CA at the age of 68.
He was preceded in his passing by both father and mother, brothers Joe and Phillip, sister Brenda, and son Benjamin.
He is survived by brother Mervin Lent of Susanville, CA, sisters Valerie Estrada of Redding, CA, and Paula Lent of Bridgeport, CA, and also by children (from oldest to youngest) Ervin Lent Jr. of Buellton, CA, Adrienne Lent of Bridgeport, CA, Joseph Lent of Yerington, NV, Alisha Ryan of Grass Valley, CA, Hannah Dondero of Bishop, CA, Candice Mastagni of Alturas, CA, and Nathan Lent of Sacramento, CA.
Ervin had 26 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren, all of whom he loved very much.
He was a member and elder of the Bridgeport Paiute Tribe but this in no way limited his affiliation with all of his people. He identified himself as a Mono Lake Paiute, a Bishop Paiute, a Yosemite Paiute, a Mono/Monachi of the western Sierra areas, and a Choinumni and Tachi of Lemoore, CA. He truly enjoined his authentic Native culture, language and history and he valued being an active participant in all activities that promoted and preserved the accurate portrayal of who he and his people were and are.
He attended grammar and high school in Porterville, CA, where he also met his first wife who is the mother of all his children, Denise Bakich, in 1972. His father Alvin was a man of God and a minister of the gospel, and shortly after meeting his wife to be they gave their hearts to Christ together in the home of Alvin and Marjorie in Porterville.
After this Ervin took up working in the saw mills at Tule River Indian Reservation and in Auberry, CA. He also became a minister of the gospel along with his father and his elder brother Joe, and together they began to evangelize on many reservations and Rancherias in California. With this being the driving force of his life, he and his family moved to many different locations throughout Tulare county and northern California such as Klamath Falls, Alturas, and Chester. He even went to Denver, Colorado where his daughter Hannah was born, preaching the gospel all along the way. After these he and his family settled in Susanville.
In 1984 his marriage with Denise ended and his family split and his life changed drastically. But as he recuperated he began attending Lassen College where he excelled in public speaking, he took up body building and even firefighting, his younger brother Mervin introducing him into the Lassen Hot Shots. He was always very proud of these accomplishments even up to the day of his passing.
While on the Yellowstone wildfire in1987 he met his wife to be Darcy Jean Getten. They were married and then moved to Sacramento together where he finished his education and received his bachelor's degree at Sac State in 1992. From there he took a job at the Capitol working for Councilman/Mayor Joe Serna and Senator Bill Leonard as well as with Native American Lobbyists.
During these years he had an eye opening experience; he was talking to the Father during a church service and said "Father, I'm not like these people. Who am I?" The Father answered him and said, "You are who I have made you." Ervin responded, "I don't know who that is." And the Father said, "then go and find out."
From this point Ervin began studying everything that was written about his people, the Paiutes, the Monos, the Yosemites and the Tachis. He would visit his relatives in Bridgeport and Mariposa from whom he began to learn the Paiute language from. He began to visit with his uncles Tony and Pete Baga from Lemoore where he learned to make traditional bows and arrows by mimicking their art work. He truly became a master craftsman of traditional survival arts working with obsidian, steatite, leather, bone and glass beads. He upped the standard of traditional art by developing quality work. He would attend pow-wows and art shows throughout California and Nevada where he would display and sell his creations. He did this for many years until he decided to begin applying his education to work in Native organizations.
In 1995 he relocated to Bishop and took a job as Executive Director for Owens Valley Indian Housing Authority in Big Pine, CA. For years he held many positions throughout the Valley and beyond; Education Director for the Bishop Paiute Tribe, Tribal Administrator for Big Pine Paiute Tribe, Tribal Administrator for Death Valley Shoshone Tribe, Tribal Administrator for the Coarsegold Chukchansi Tribe, Gas Station Manager for Bishop Paiute Tribe. One of his greatest accomplishments was when he became the first Native American to hold the office of Inyo County District 3 Supervisor. In his later years he enjoyed being on the Toiyabe Indian Health Project board as a representative for the Bridgeport Tribe. He truly found out who he and his people were and are.
For many years he had a wolf named Nuvavi. He bred her and raised wolf pups, many of which he sold throughout the country. He enjoyed photography, especially taking pictures of his family, nature, petroglyphs, and of his wolf dogs. He truly enjoyed getting dressed up, he could make himself look very sharp. He enjoyed dressing in long black clothes and wearing his eagle feather hat, much like one of his role models Wovoka. He liked being involved with the events at Bodie, especially the photography. He was active in the Tribe's Cultural Committee and appreciated having a voice regarding Native issues. Over the last few years he also began to take a greater interest in learning his Paiute language and everyone in class seemed to enjoy his presence and humor.
After his wife Darcy left him about 8 years ago, Ervin drew closer to God and became more active in attending church, studying the word, and praying. He always kept his faith regarding the salvation of his children and spent a lot more time with all of them, travelling to see them all. He also kept busy by taking up antiquing and junking. He would buy and sell and was actually quite successful at it. His life in Bishop ran its course and he moved to Bridgeport in 2018 and resided there until his passing.
He stayed active in the ministry throughout the years as a preacher from time to time, a funeral minister, a testifier, and singer. He was actively involved in his son Joseph's church in Yerington where he would sing and praise the Lord with all his heart. He was an example as a man of faith for he was never ashamed or intimidated to proclaim the name of Jesus Christ. He would never speak death, sickness, or defeat, and his trust was never in medicine or hospitals. He believed the word of God and always professed a good confession. He was a pleasure to be around and he enjoyed being silly and making people laugh, always joking and teasing. He is loved and will be missed by so many. He was a dad, grandpa, brother, uncle, cousin and friend.
Burial services will be held at the Bridgeport Indian Cemetery on Saturday, October 16 at 11:00 a.m.
Published by Inyo Register on Oct. 16, 2021.
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2 Entries
My deepest condolences.. To the family. Ervin was a long time friend. His humor will be missed. Along with that big black hat.
Kay Wiltfong
November 5, 2021
I worked for Supervisor Lent when I was a staff member with the Inyo County Yucca Mountain Assessment Office. He and I traveled to events in D.C. and New Orleans together. He was a fascinating, informed and gracious guy, and it was privilege to be able to work for him.
Andrew Remus
October 20, 2021
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