May 2015                                                                                   Volume 1, Number 2
New Program Serves Domestic Violence Survivors 

California Indian Legal Services in partnership with Strong Hearted Native Women's Coalition initiates legal assistance for victims of domestic violence. The advocacy model incorporates holistic, comprehensive and culturally appropriate support for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking in San Diego County. CILS and SHNWC's Legal Assistance for Victims (LAV) Project was awarded a three year, $500,000, grant from the U. S. Department of Justice.

The goal and objective of LAV is to provide the victims with permanent protection and long term legal relief in the areas of a divorce, child custody and visitation, division of community property and child and spousal support.

This project targets Native American survivors of domestic violence in San Diego County and affords limited services in Riverside County. The program covers all 18 Reservations in the County and augments SHNWC's Native American domestic violence and sexual assault shelter.

CILS is proud to announce and welcome two new staff members under the LAV Project. Our new Domestic Violence Advocate is Yvette Morales, who brings many years of advocacy experience to CILS. Susan Platt Dalati will serve as the LAV Project's Domestic Violence Attorney. Ms. Dalati has represented individuals in domestic violence and family law cases for twenty seven years. Both Dalati and Morales come to us from the former North County Family Violence Prevention Center.

We are pleased to have Yvette and Susan on board, and look forward to a productive future meeting the needs of the community.

"This program will provide victims with safety plans, crisis intervention assistance, danger assessments, and restraining orders to meet their immediate emergency needs,"
said Dorothy Alther, the executive director
of CILS, when the grant was awarded
last September.
Keely Linton, Germaine Omish-Guachena
and Catherine Revelez of SHNWC

CILS Can Assist Tribes with Building Governmental Infrastructure and Election Monitoring
Tribes don't need to wait until they have a legal problem to contact CILS. We can provide proactive assistance to tribes with developing and/or enhancing their governmental infrastructure through internal program development, code and regulation drafting, human resources and administration policies and procedures. Also, nothing is more important to a tribe's sovereignty than the ability to create its own laws and be governed by them. Many tribes pass laws and adopt organic documents through a tribal election process as well elections for their government officials. CILS is available to help the election process. 

How can CILS help with tribal elections?
* Drafting tribal election codes and ordinances that reflect the tribe's needs and values;
* Interpreting existing tribal election rules to ensure consistent application for candidates and voting members;
* Overseeing the actual election as a neutral third party which will ensure the integrity of the election;
* Collecting, tallying and announcing the election results to preserve confidentiality and avoid conflicts of interest; and
* Conducting elections on site or by mail.
Native Student to Wear Beaded Cap at Graduation
Leticia Gonzales and her
grandmother Jeanette Barlow
On March 7th, CILS on behalf of Carrie Jones the mother of graduating high school student Leticia Gonzales, was able to resolve an issue with Bishop Union High School involving Ms. Gonzales and other Native American graduating students, wearing traditional beading adorned on their caps and beaded eagle feathers at the graduation ceremony on June 5th, 2015. To address concerns raised by Ms. Jones, her daughter and family members regarding the school's decision to prevent Leticia from wearing her beaded graduation cap, Superintendent Barry Simpson and Principal Randy Cook reached out to local tribal leaders and CILS to request a meeting to initiate dialogue and hopefully come to a satisfactory resolution. All parties were concerned with the short timeframe in order to get notice out to affected parents and students. Within a week, all involved were able to conduct two meetings, which resulted in the Bishop Union School agreeing to allow graduating Native American students this year to adorn their caps with beads as well as wearing their beaded eagle feathers.

Leticia's grandmother, a Bishop Paiute tribal elder, finished beading the edges on her granddaughter's graduation cap with Bishop High's colors to honor her granddaughter, her first and oldest grandchild, and the first in their family to receive a diploma from Bishop Union High School.

The family was very pleased with the outcome.
Serving California Indian Communities

CILS offers trainings and outreach to our clients and community members. From wills & estate planning presentations to Indian Child Welfare Act trainings, CILS offices empower individuals and tribes to help themselves. CILS issues tribal alerts on new federal and state legislation, regulatory changes, and court cases that impact tribes and tribal communities. CILS also sponsors and participates in statewide conferences on the Indian Child Welfare Act, Public Law 280, tribal law enforcement, and tribal court development.


CILS is one of the oldest not-for-profit law firms devoted exclusively to the cause of Native American rights. Governed by a Board of Trustees endorsed by California tribes and tribal organizations, CILS has provided free and low-cost legal services to California tribes, tribal organizations, and Native American individuals throughout the State since 1967. 

CILS is proud of our many important achievements over the last four decades, including significant Supreme Court and legislative victories in the areas of Indian child welfare and cultural resource protection, securing federal recognition for dozens of California tribes, hosting numerous statewide conferences on Indian law issues, and the successful resolution of thousands of legal issues for Indian individuals, families, tribes, and native organizations.


Providing representation in cases that involve issues unique to Native Americans.

These include:

 Individual trust allotments

 Will drafting and probate of Indian Land/trust assets
 Indian students' rights

 Civil rights related to race or Indian religion

 Indian income-related tax benefits and exemptions

 Tribal representation in  Indian Child Welfare Act cases

 Tribal customary adoption

 Eligibility of Indians for special benefits programs


"You are one of the few truly kind, decent, and ethical lawyers out there who fight to do the right thing for those who need our help most." 


Quote from opposing counsel to CILS attorney 

Did You Know

When you support CILS, you support the rights of individual Native Americans and tribal self-determination, self-empowerment and justice. CILS's victories and accomplishments in Indian Country require your generous support. We encourage you to support our Indian legal advocacy efforts.

California Indian Legal Services

609 S. Escondido Blvd.
Escondido, CA 92025

Phone (760) 746-8941
Fax (760) 746-1815



Our mission is to protect and advance Indian rights, foster Indian self-determination, and facilitate tribal nation-building.

    Like us on Facebook    Follow us on Twitter    View our profile on LinkedIn


With support from:


Copyright ? 2015. All Rights Reserved.