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September 2019                                                           Volume 5, Number 19
On July 16th and July 17th, over 600 golfers teed off at the Pelican Hill Resort Club in Newport Beach for the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians' 21st Annual Golf Tournament. Each year the San Manuel Tribe sponsors the golf tournament to raise money for charitable organizations. This year the tournament raised over $275,000.00 and was distributed to five nonprofits serving and advancing Native American causes. California Indian Legal Services was selected for a charitable award, along with the: Chief Seattle Club from Washington, Haskell Foundation from Kansas, California Consortium for Urban Indian Health, and Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota. Each nonprofit received $55,000.

Pictured: San Manuel Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena, San Manuel Business Committee Member Audrey Martinez, CILS Chairman of the Board Mark Romero, CILS Executive Director Dorothy Alther, and San Manuel Business Committee Member Jamie Barron
San Manuel Chairwoman Lynn Valbuena said: "These five organizations are dedicated to improving the lives of so many Native American communities across the nation, and we are so proud to be in a position where we can help. The tournament is just one of the many ways San Manuel embodies a culture of giving back."
Dancers of all ages make their way around the procession during the grand entry at Cuyamaca College's third annual powwow in 2017. (San Diego Union-Tribune file photo)
Why California's Native Americans Deserve More Than an Apology 
By CILS Executive Director Dorothy Alther and Cary Lowe, attorney and a former member of CILS' Board of Trustees. Printed in the San Diego Union-Tribune June 27, 2019.

Gov. Gavin Newsom's executive order apologizing to California's Native American population for nearly two centuries of "violence, exploitation, dispossession and the attempted destruction of tribal communities" is a welcome first step toward healing the wounds inflicted by that history. But it is only a first step.

California is hardly alone in mistreating its indigenous people, but this state took that pattern to extremes seen in few other places. Moreover, the vestiges of that shameful history continue to this day.

Michael Godbe joins CILS as a Staff Attorney in the Bishop office. Michael  will assist the tribes, Indian organizations, and native populations in Inyo, Mono, Tuolumne, Kern, and Alpine Counties.  Michael will also provide legal services to low-income and senior individuals through two programs unique to CILS' Bishop office: the Eastern Sierra Legal Assistance Project and the Inyo-Mono Senior Legal Program.

"I believe in CILS' mission to advance and protect Indian rights and the sovereignty of tribes," Godbe said. "I also have seen firsthand how legal aid can help low-income and older folks secure much-needed public benefits and stay in their homes."

Michael joins CILS after three years in private practice in Wisconsin.
New CILS Website Community Events and Training Calendar
This summer the Escondido Office was fortunate to host a law clerk, DaNikka Huss, a second-year law student at the James E. Rogers School of Law at the University of Arizona. "DaNikka came to CILS with more federal Indian and tribal law knowledge than most law clerks. She previously worked for her tribe, the Pala Band of Mission Indians, in several essential capacities. DaNikka showed constant enthusiasm for all aspects of our work, offered valuable input and suggestions to improve our outreach efforts, and never shied away from an assignment or an opportunity to join a CILS attorney in the field. We hope to cross paths with DaNikka again in the future, perhaps as a law clerk or even better, an attorney," said Mark Vezzola, Escondido Office Directing Attorney.

We asked DaNikka three questions. Her answers were remarkable.
CILS wants to thank all 72 California tribes and 11 Indian organizations who signed on to the amicus curiae brief in the  Brackeen v. Bernhardt  (formerly  Brackeen v. Zinke ) case, which was challenging the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The case has been pending before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals for over five months. Finally, on August 9, 2019, the Court issued its decision upholding the ICWA in full! It was a major victory on all of the legal arguments made by the tribal and federal defendants. The Court's ruling is as follows:

Learn More

  CILS Program Highlights 

On June 24th, CILS presented to a group of elders of the Pala Band of Indians on consumer scams.

CILS gave a "Record Clearing 101" presentation at Redding Rancheria on June 25th.

CILS provided training on "Pro Bono Work to Empower and Represent Act of 2018" at the U.S. District Court Southern District of California on August 1st.

On August 14th, CILS gave a "Record Clearing 101" presentation at Mooretown Rancheria.

CILS presented an Education Presentation in Tule River on August 16th.

CILS gave an " ICWA 101" training at the Tehama County Department of Education on August 22nd.

CILS provided training with Bishop Paiute Tribe's Relief After Violence Encounters (RAVE) program on Public Law 280 on September 11th.

On September 12th, CILS presented Qualified Expert Witness Training with Bishop Paiute Tribe's Relief After Violence Encounters (RAVE) program.


Elvin Ray Buck v. R. Ndoh
CILS' Sacramento office filed a motion for leave to file a first amended complaint and it was argued May 10th. On May 24th the parties reach a stipulation on the filing of the first amended complaint, and it was filed on May 31st. CILS has submitted a request for a Preliminary Junction, briefing has been completed, and the hearing is set for October 4th. Elvin Buck is a Native American inmate who we are representing in a Section 1983 and Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Person Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) case.  

ICWA Consistency Meeting
A group of social workers and supervisors from the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services invited our Escondido Directing Attorney, Mark Vezzola, to be a guest at it's July 2nd "ICWA Consistency Meeting." The participants discussed best practices for positive collaboration between the Department and tribes as well as specific topics like qualified expert witnesses, tribally approved homes, and Tribal Customary Adoption.

Casino Security Guards Sued
Our Escondido office is defending two Pauma Casino Security Guards sued in their individual capacity for negligence in state court. The case is in the discovery stage. 
Did County Provide Active Efforts
Our Escondido office had an ICWA case in the LA Juvenile Court on the issue of whether the County had provided "active efforts." The Court agreed with the Tribe and found that the Department did not make "active efforts," let alone any efforts to keep the child in his/her home. An internal investigation was ordered on the matter. 

Social Security Administration Drops Request for Accounting
CILS' Sacramento office was contacted by a tribal member who received money from the Hoopa-Yurok Settlement Act when he turned 21. The Social Security Administration (SSA) had requested an accounting of how that money had been spent down along with logistical information of his receipt of the funds. We provided SSA with information demonstrating that the money was exempt as a "resource," thereby eliminating the need for him to account to them on how he had spent the money. SSA agreed with our legal position and dropped its request for an accounting.  

County Tax Settlement
Our Bishop office is preparing the distribution of a $15,000 settlement with Inyo County for improper assessment of property taxes on an Indian allotment that has nine interest holders. The check was finally received, and we are preparing the allocation checks to our clients. 

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