Calindian Logo
E-Mail Newsletter
December 2018                                                                           Volume 4, Number 16
Indian Child Welfare Act Experts
Whom Does CILS Represent?
We represent federally-recognized Indian tribes.
CILS's goal in the area of Indian child welfare is to increase compliance with the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and related state laws, and ensure Indian children maintain vital ties to their tribal communities. CILS' success in ICWA matters directly affects the placement environments and cultural connections of hundreds of Indian children living in California. CILS represents both in-state and out-of-state tribes in California court proceedings, including dependency, delinquency, and probate guardianship matters involving Indian children. 

CILS routinely intervenes on behalf of its tribal clients and actively works with social workers and legal counsel for the other parties to keep Indian families together. Many tribes rely on tribal ICWA workers and law advocates to represent their interests in state court, that is not always sufficient to represent a tribe's interests. Formal legal representation affords tribes all the protections of the attorney-client relationship. Unlike tribal social workers and lay advocates, CILS attorneys can protect tribal statements with attorney/client confidentiality, and cannot be called as a witness against our client tribes. CILS attorneys are familiar with the rules of evidence, civil procedure, and the California Welfare and Institutions Code and object at appropriate times to preserve issues for a possible appeal.

With four offices strategically located throughout California, CILS is an effective advocate for family reunification and cultural preservation. We will be there for tribes when and where they need us.

Why Should Tribes Participate in ICWA Cases?
If the child is an "Indian child" as defined by the ICWA, all of ICWA's substantive requirements apply, even if the tribe does not intervene. 
Unfortunately, however, these requirements are not always followed when the tribe does not intervene, because often the other parties are not familiar with all of these requirements or the case law involving them, or do not have the same motivation as the tribe to see that the ICWA is complied with. 
This can impact every stage of a case, from emergency placement, to the development of a reunification plan, to consultation with the tribe on reunification services, the ICWA's placement preferences, and appropriate permanency options for Indian children. 
CILS regularly provides trainings on the ICWA, but a tribe participating as a party is the most effective way to see that the law is being followed.

ICWA Training Webinars and Advocate Guide
ICWA Advocate Training Webinars
This ICWA Webinar Series is designed to provide tribal advocates with training, resources, and increased expertise.
This series begins with an understanding of the cultural impact that the dependency system has on the Native population. Also included is an overview of the dependency and delinquency systems and applicable ICWA regulations and state laws. Finally, the materials will help advocates strengthen their substantive knowledge and courtroom advocacy skills leading to better outcomes for tribal children and families.
The goal is to ensure that Native American children are not disconnected from their Indian heritage.

ICWA Advocate Guide for CA Courts
The ICWA Advocate Guide is designed to assist tribal advocates who appear in state court. Not all California tribes have the resources to hire attorneys for every dependency case. As an alternative, tribes often rely on tribal social workers, also called ICWA Advocates. As a general rule, most other parties in dependency cases are represented by legal counsel, including the social services agency, the parents or Indian custodian, and the child(ren). Retaining legal counsel is advisable for tribes but the ICWA Advocate Guide is a great reference tool for tribal advocates who participate in dependency proceedings.
Learn More
Free Walk-in Legal Clinics at Indian Health in San Diego County
CILS offers free walk-in legal clinics from 11:00 am - 2:00 pm on the second Wednesday of each month at Indian Health Council on the Rincon Indian Reservation and the fourth Wednesday of each month at the Southern Indian Health Council in Alpine. Both clinics are staffed by a Legal Advocate and an Attorney who assist with issues pertaining to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and sex trafficking. Services include helping with safety planning and crisis intervention; assistance with Restraining Orders; hearing preparation; and other legal consultation relating to the various forms of victimization.  
The walk-in clinics operate on a first come, first served basis. There are no income restrictions as these services are FREE. Our DV staff is very experienced in these areas of law, and provide victims with informed, confidential, and culturally appropriate services.
  CILS Program Highlights 

On September 11th, CILS provided a half-day training in Butte County on the ICWA and several related subtopics. Over 100 people attended from local tribes and nearby counties. The Mooretown Rancheria hosted the event. 

Escondido office Directing Attorney, Mark Vezzola, participated on a panel with the head of Indian Health Service to an audience of 500 people at the National Indian Council on Aging Conference on September 11th at the Pechanga Resort. The following day Mark had two break-out presentations on estate planning. 

On September 11th, CILS gave a training on "Tribally Approved Homes" at the Cahuilla Tribal Hall for community members and tribal ICWA social workers. 

On September 19th, CILS completed a training on "Special Domestic Violence Criminal Jurisdiction" at the Yurok Tribe for Tribal Court staff and domestic violence advocates. 

CILS gave a Public Law 280 training at the Redding Rancheria to Shasta County-area law enforcement (CHP, Sheriff's Department, Fish and Game) and members of the Tribe on September 24th.

On October 3rd, CILS gave a presentation to public domain allottees on their rights and the BIA legal obligations owed to them as trust landowners at Redding Rancheria.

CILS presented a Public Law 280 training at the Pit River Tribal Hall for community members on October 17th.

CILS provided a Federal Indian Law & Policy presentation at the Cerro Coso Community College in Bishop on November 11th. 

CA Public Domain Allottee Association
Senior Staff Attorney, Jay Petersen, formed a non-profit legal entity to protect and advocate for the public domain allottee community in fulfilling a significant component of our 2017-2018 Indian Land Tenure Foundation grant. Articles of incorporation for the non-profit California Public Domain Allottee Association (CPDAA) were filed with the California Secretary of State, and the initial CPDAA Board was established. The Board includes tribal elders, tribal health care administrators, retired environmental planners and other members of the statewide allottee community who will direct the non-profit. They represent the stakeholder community from Northern, Central and Eastern California.    

Invalidated Parental Termination
Staff Attorney Mica Llerandi succeeded on a motion to invalidate the termination of a mother's parental rights in a San Bernardino County ICWA proceeding on behalf of a New Mexico tribe on the grounds that the social services agency failed to report to the court information provided by the tribe about the children's membership status.    

ICWA Case Success
Our Sacramento office successfully resolved an ICWA case that was in the Northern District of Texas, despite the Brackeen v. Zinke decision having been
issued several weeks before. The child was placed with her aunt in Oklahoma per the tribe's wishes, and the case closed. The Texas child welfare authorities worked with CILS to find a path under Texas law for placement since the legal validity of the ICWA was unclear in that jurisdiction at that point in time. 

CA Juvenile Dependency Practice Book 
Once again CILS attorneys edited and updated the ICWA Chapter of the CEB California Juvenile Dependency Practice book to reflect recent changes in state law including AB 3176, which incorporates the 2016 BIA ICWA Regulations into the California Welfare and Institutions Code, and In re A.F., an appellate decision from 2017 that addressed tribal placement preferences.  

Tribal Court Order Enforced
The Eureka office assisted a Yurok tribal member with recognition and enforcement of a Tribal Court divorce order (qualified domestic relations order) that directed an employer to distribute 50% of an employee's retirement fund to our client. The employer agreed to enforce the order so long as the state court recognized the tribal court order under state law. We are filing a petition in state court seeking comity of the tribal court order so that client may obtain the benefits awarded by the Tribal Court. 
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