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June 2017                                                                              Volume 3, Number 10
Support Assembly Bill 233 - 
CA Education Code Amendment

On June 14, 2017,  Assembly Bill 233 passed the Senate Education Committee 7-0 and now moves to the Judiciary Committee. We have had little opposition and anticipate it passing the Judiciary Committee without any problems. No hearing date has been scheduled yet.  From the Judiciary Committee it moves on to the Governor's desk, where we anticipate that he will sign it.

Rebekah Israel, a member of the Lone Pine Paiute-Shoshone tribe, was not allowed to wear a ceremonial eagle feather on her mortarboard when she graduated from the Charter School of San Diego. A new State Assembly bill would change that. (Megan Doughty)

Video: CILS explains the CA Education Code Amendment

Pictured: Honorable Judge Cindy Smith, Suquamish Tribe; Dorothy Alther, CILS Executive Director; and Honorable Chief Judge Lawrence King, Colorado River Indian Tribe 
On May 11, 2017, CILS held a one-day conference at Rincon Casino and Resort devoted to the "nuts and bolts" needed for California tribal courts to exercise criminal jurisdiction over Indians and non-Indian offenders who commit domestic violence on tribal lands.

Presenters from out-of-state tribes that currently exercise criminal jurisdiction shared their knowledge. The agenda included presentations from tribal court judges, tribal prosecutors, tribal defense attorneys, court clerks, tribal law enforcement and correction
Pictured: Denise Bareilles, Senior Staff Attorney, and Tamara Honrado, Staff Attorney from the Eureka CILS office
officers. Highlights included the  Honorable Chie f Judg e Lawrence King of the Colorado River Indian Tribe  and the Honorable Judge Cindy Smith of the Suquamish Tribe discussing their tribal court perspective
of exercising criminal jurisdiction in domestic violence cases. The conference generated dynamic discussion on the long-term goals necessary to implement domestic violence criminal jurisdiction in a PL280 state.

The event was generously funded by Tribal Justice Support, Office of Justice Support, Bureau of Indian Affairs.
  Bishop Tribe v. Inyo County et. al.
Bishop Tribe v. Inyo County case had oral argument on April 21, 2017 at the 9th  Circuit Court of Appeals.  The hearing was held in San Francisco. CILS made argument to the Court on behalf of the Tribe. The Judges asked good questions to further analyze the issues before the court. A decision should issue in the next several months.

Pictured: Jasmine Andreas, Bishop Directing Attorney, on the steps of the 9th Circuit Court.

CILS is offering free technical assistance to tribes interested in or conducting criminal background checks on prospective families who want to become a tribally licensed home for tribal member children being placed outside their home by County Protective Services (CPS). CILS can provide information and guidance on:

  •  Completing the California Department of Justice (DOJ) forms to access Criminal Offender Record Information;
  •  Conducting Child Abuse Central Index checks;
  •  Accessing list of "non-exemptible" crimes that require denying an application for placement;
  • When and how a tribe may exempt crimes that are exemptible;
  •  Provide a sample resolution to submit with the tribe's DOJ applications;
  •  Sample Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), the tribe, may consider in working with its local CPS;
  •  Policies the tribe should consider in operating its criminal background check program.
Please submit your questions to

This service is being provided through funding from the California Department of Social Services.

  CILS Program Highlights 
ALL FOUR OFFICES participated in state-wide trainings  to tribal leaders, tribal social workers, and ICWA Advocates assisting them in successfully pursuing ICWA compliance in state court child welfare cases. A total of 14 training events were held throughout California.
Mark Radoff,  Escondido  Senior Staff Attorney and Blake Atkerson, Sacramento Staff  Attorney did 2 two and a half day  trainings  for "ICWA Tribal Advocates" at Morongo on March 27-29 and at Thunder Valley on June 12-14.
The following three trainings were on April 17-19 at Sycuan, May 22-24 at Bear River, and June 26-28 at  Thunder Valley.
Mark Vezzola, Escondido Directing Attorney, did trainings on the new BIA ICWA Regulations.
Jedd Parr, Sacramento Directing Attorney, and Jasmine Andreas, Bishop Directing Attorney, did trainings on Tribal Customary Adoption.
Dorothy Alther, Executive Director, did trainings on Criminal Background Checks.
This project was funded by the California Department of Social Services.

  Free Walk-in Legal Clinic at Indian Health Council
CILS offers a free walk-in legal clinic from 11:00 am - 2:30 pm on the second Wednesday of each month at Indian Health Council on the Rincon Indian Reservation. This clinic is staffed by a Legal Advocate and Attorney who will assist with issues pertaining to domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking and sex trafficking. Services can include helping with safety planning and crisis intervention; assistance with filling out Restraining Orders; Restraining Order Hearing preparation; and other legal consultations relating to victimization.  

The walk-in clinic operates on a first come, first served basis. There are no income guidelines for assistance. The Legal Advocate and Attorney are very experienced in these areas of law, and they will provide trauma victims with informed, confidential, and culturally appropriate services.

Good News Story
Back in 2015, a UCSD graduate student contacted CILS for help unsealing his original birth records. He had been adopted by a non-Indian family in Imperial County forty years earlier and knew only fragments of his family history and little about his tribal culture. CILS took the case and drafted a petition to unseal birth records citing applicable state and federal laws as well as supporting documents including declarations from family members with firsthand knowledge of the client's background. The client himself filed these documents in Imperial County Superior Court, gaining access to his original birth records which he then in turn used to enrolled in a Yaqui tribe. The client contacted CILS in June 2017 to share the good news and express his gratitude for our help reconnecting him to his family and tribe.

Blue Shield of California Foundation Expands Grants to Prevent Domestic Violence 

On March 22, 2017, nine community-centered groups got aid from Blue Shield of California Foundation to support the most vulnerable Californians and CILS is one of them.

"These organizations were selected, in part, because they've engaged local communities to affect positive change by focusing on the unique needs and experiences of the people they serve," said Peter Long, PhD, president and CEO of Blue Shield of California Foundation. "These trusted community partners are shining examples of health care and anti-domestic-violence advocates in California who live our shared values every day."

Thank you, Blue Shield of California Foundation, for your support!

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