E-Mail Newsletter
September 2021 Volume 6 Number 27
Pictured: Executive Director Heather Hostler and Legal Director Dorothy Alther.
August 26, 2021: By Dorothy Alther, Legal Director

On September 7, 2021, CILS will be welcoming a new Executive Director, Heather Hostler, working in our Sacramento Office. For my part, I will be remaining in our Escondido Office in my new role as CILS Legal Director. While organizational change can be hard and challenging, it can also bring new ideas, energy, and improvements to an organization. CILS has been my home for over 30 years, and I am confident that Heather, with my full support and that of staff, can enhance CILS and keep it the premier non-profit Indian law firm it has always been.

I am looking forward to my new role as Legal Director, which will allow me to devote all my attention to being an Indian law lawyer once again and working more closely with our great team of CILS attorneys and advocates. Doing Indian law and representing Native American individuals and tribes has been my passion for the 36 years of being an attorney. It was an honor and a privilege to be the Executive Director of CILS for the last eight years. Still, I am looking forward to my new position and contributing to the legal program that I love and the communities we serve.

Welcome, Heather, and this new chapter at CILS.

With appreciation,
Dorothy Alther
CILS Executive Director

California Indian Legal Services Announces Heather Hostler as Next Executive Director

SACRAMENTO, CA, August 30, 2021 – The Board of Trustees of California Indian Legal Services is honored to announce that it has selected the California Department of Social Services Office of Tribal Affairs Director Heather Hostler to be CILS’ next Executive Director. Heather will succeed current CILS Executive Director Dorothy Alther.

“It is my pleasure to announce that the CILS Board of Trustees has hired the new Executive Director, Heather Hostler. She will be the ED beginning September 7, 2021. Heather has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Native American Studies from Humboldt State University and over twenty years experience working with tribal governments,” said Mark Romero, Board Chair of California Indian Legal Services. “Let’s all welcome her and work with her towards a bright future for CILS.”

Escondido, CA, June 23, 2021 – California Indian Legal Services (CILS) is proud to announce it has been selected as a 2021 California Nonprofit of the Year by District 38 Senator Brian Jones.

California Indian Legal Services is one of more than one hundred nonprofits that will be honored by their state senators and assembly members for their tremendous contributions to the communities they serve.

California Indian Legal Services’ mission is to protect and advance Indian rights, foster Indian self-determination, and facilitate tribal nation-building. CILS is one of the oldest non-profit law firms for Native American rights. Governed by a Board of Trustees selected by California tribes, tribal organizations, and dedicated state bar attorneys, CILS has provided free and low-cost legal services to California tribes, tribal organizations, and Native American individuals throughout the state for over five decades.

Frequently Asked Questions
June 28, 2021: By Kia Murdoch, CILS Sacramento office Staff Attorney
CILS Receives $25,000 Donation from the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians
September 13, 2021: CILS’ Executive Director Heather Hostler, Legal Director Dorothy Alther, and Director of Marketing and Development Nicole Scott attended the awards ceremony at Rincon’s government building. 
“We are elated to be selected to receive such a generous donation from the Rincon Tribal Leadership and Giving Committee and their meaningful partnership.,” said Heather Hostler, Executive Director. “Because of these funds and other tribal donations, CILS we can focus on the good work that CILS has been doing since 1967 and launch into a new vision to continue to benefit tribal communities. ”

Pictured from left to right: Rincon's Donations Committee Members Roslyn Spencer, Treasurer Ed Mazzetti, Donations Chairperson Stephanie Martinez, Donations Committee Member Joseph Constantino, CILS Director of Marketing and Development Nicole Scott, CILS Legal Director Dorothy Alther, CILS Executive Director Heather Hostler, Councilmember John Constantino, Chairman Bo Mazzetti, and Donations Committee Secretary Liz Rogers.
In 1939, Governor Culbert Olson declared October 1 to be "Indian Day", making California the first state to honor this holiday. Governor Ronald Reagan signed a resolution in 1968 establishing American Indian Day, to be held the Fourth Friday in September. In 1998, the California Assembly passed AB 1953, which made Native American Day an official state holiday, observed annually on the fourth Friday in September.

It honors Native American cultures and contributions to the state and the United States.

Although the California State Capitol event has been canceled this year, we want to remind everyone to take the day off and reflect on all the legal hurdles tribes have overcome in our lifetime, and to look forward to more positive changes to come. We hope to see you all next year in Sacramento at the Capitol celebrating our communities and Indian Country.
Tribal Courts, Estate Planning, & Sales Tax
Eureka Office Highlight
Indian Wills – Planning for the Inevitable
August 20, 2021: By Mike Godbe, Bishop office Staff Attorney

It is often said, “nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Because taxation in Indian Country is often uncertain (e.g., sales and use tax, property tax, etc.), this leaves death as the only certainty for Native Americans.

Death: the only certainty!

Well, now that I’ve got you feeling upbeat about how we’ll all be kicking the bucket someday, it’s a great time to remember that it’s never too early to start end-of-life planning!

For Native Americans who own an interest in an allotment or have money from their allotment in an Individual Indian Money (IIM) Accounts (referred to “trust assets”), there is a special set of probate rules for giving (“devising”) these assets by will.

Making a Valid Indian Will
While under state law a handwritten will with no witnesses, or a type-written will with two witnesses, may be valid, this state rule is not valid for leaving your trust assets to a relative or loved one. You must execute a will (“Indian Will”) that meets the requirements found in Title 25 of the Code of Federal Regulations, Subpart A (25 CFR §§15.1 – 15.12) to transfer trust assets.[1] Some of these requirements are that, in addition to having 2 disinterested witnesses, the testator and witnesses must all sign Affidavits with specific language in the presence of “an officer authorized to administer oaths,” such as a notary, and contain specific language.

CILS Attorneys and Advocates have many years of experience assisting clients in drafting valid Indian Wills for their trust assets.

Pictured from left to right are our Principle Office Staff and Board Members: Former Executive Director Dorothy Alther, Board Member Joe Ayala, Board Member Merri Lopez-Keifer, Former Board Member Sheila Quinlan, Board Chairman Mark Romero, Board Member Robert Gonzalez, Former Board Member Gabe Cayton, Board Member Victorio Shaw, Director of Administration Patricia De La Cruz-Lynas, and Director of Marketing and Development Nicole Scott.
August 3, 2021: By Dorothy Alther, Legal Director

Federal law and regulation dictate who is eligible to be a CILS Board of Trustees member. The Legal Service Corporation (LSC), CILS’s largest funding provider, is bound by these regulations and ensures that legal service programs it funds follow the rules. The LSC regulations do not restrict the number of Board of Trustees CILS can have, but rather define the percentage of the various groups that must be represented on the Board.
LSC regulations provide that 60% of recipients governing be attorneys, one-third of the Board must be persons who are client eligible, and the remainder of the Board members may be appointed or selected by the Board but must make the Board, as a whole, reasonably reflective of the diversity of the areas served by the recipient.

You Can Help to Defend Cultural Tradition
Sacramento office Directing Attorney Jedd Parr participated on an online panel on ICWA training on June 15 entitled "Active Efforts What Judicial Officers and Counsel for Parents and Children Need to Know." The training was sponsored by the Judicial Council of California.

Escondido office Directing Attorney Mark Vezzola presented "Honoring Our Sisters: Rethinking Tribal Court Jurisdiction," to the San Diego Law Library via Zoom on July 15 with MCLE credit.

From July 21-23, Escondido Directing Attorney Mark Vezzola and staff conducted a will clinic for a southern California tribe. They completed 12 Indian wills, nine healthcare directives, and eight powers of attorney for Tribal members, most of whom were elders.

On August 10, Legal Director Dorothy Alther participated in an online panel entitled "The Good, The Bad and the Ugly: Procurement Practices for Tribal Broadband." 

Eureka office Directing Attorney Denise Bareilles and Staff Attorney Debra Avenmarg presented "Guardian Ad Litem in Tribal Court Training" on August 17.
Tribal Court Transferred Results in Minor Placement
On June 1, the Escondido office successfully argued for an extended visit of a minor with Tribal relatives in Arizona over the objection of the Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services. The Department expressed concern that the mother would have access to her child despite being sober only a short time. At the hearing, CILS showed that not only had the Tribe offered services and tested the mother weekly for two months (every test came back negative), but Tribal Social Services approved an aunt and uncle for placement and deemed them appropriate caregivers capable of protecting the child. Two weeks later, CILS asked Los Angeles Court Superior Court to transfer the case to Tribal Court, which it did. Minor is now placed with his Tribal member aunt and uncle on their Arizona reservation and continues to have a relationship with his birth mother.

Indian Will Assistance
The Bishop office assisted a disabled tribal elder with the revision of the Last Will and Testament and correct completion of the tribe’s assignment designation form consistent with her wishes. Additionally, reviewed SSI overpayment letters and explained the reason for overpayment and later reimbursement to the client, which previously was only a source of frustration and confusion.
Tribal Law Updates to Process Child Support
The Eureka office is actively working with a tribal government agency to review and update tribal law for child support cases and drafting policies and procedures for processing child support cases through its tribal court. Program implementation should begin in the next few years which will allow for a tribal process for enforcing child support cases under tribal jurisdiction.

Indian Children returned to Parents
In July, the Saramento office worked closely with a Tribe and county to facilitate the return of two Indian children to their Indian parent in an ICWA case. CILS represented the Tribe for these two children, as well as their infant sister in a separate dependency case. CILS and the Tribal social worker collaborated with the county to find culturally appropriate services for the family, who live far away from the Tribe. All three children are now residing together with their Indian parent with continued family maintenance services.

We encourage you to think about CILS while you are shopping on Amazon. Give us a big smile because you are making a difference for California Indians that need low cost or free legal services. With your donation through Amazon we can continue to provide legal services to California Indians.
California Indian Legal Services