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September 2016                                                                              Volume 2, Number 7
Tribal Identification Cards to be Accepted by California Notaries Public
September 22, 2016: CILS is happy to report that 2017 will usher in a much-needed change to California's notary laws regarding the acceptance of tribal identification cards. The Honorable California Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Garden), in cooperation with CILS, sponsored Senate Bill 997 which allows California notaries public to accept tribal identification cards from federally recognized tribes as a form of identification for notarial acts. 
The change is a recognition by California lawmakers of the struggles some tribal members face when their tribal identification cards are rejected as valid forms of identification for documentation requiring notarial seals. 
Tribal members living in rural areas of California
often find it difficult to travel to larger towns where county and state agencies issue their forms of identification. Now these individuals will be able to present their tribal ID cards as valid identification so long as the card is current or issued within the last five years, contain a photograph, a description of the person, a signature, and a serial or other identifying number such as a tribal enrollment number. 
CILS staff are delighted to have supported the passage of this law which now brings California in line with other states who have a large percentage of Native American populations. 

"I've been a notary public for 18 years working with California tribal communities," said Sonia Montero, CILS advocate who testified in support of the law. "It is a welcome and useful change. I'm proud CILS played a part in supporting this law and I'm grateful California lawmakers made this a reality." 
CILS Presents "Keeping Native Families Safe - DV and ICWA Resources" Training
July 26, 2016: CILS in conjunction with Indian Health Council presented a training entitled 
Keeping Native Families Safe - DV and ICWA Resources. The training course provided an overview of the overlap between the domestic violence and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) dependency worlds, which frequently collide.  The event was well attended and very helpful to those who work with ICWA and DV in Indian Country. 

CILS Domestic Violence Attorney, Susan Dalati, said  "attendees came from several counties with a wide range of professional disciplines.  The audience actively participated throughout the day, resulting in  a  productive, informative and collaborative experience for everyone."

This training was sponsored by Southern California Edison, Blue Shield Against Violence Initiative, Peace Between Partners, Indian Health Council and California Indian Legal Services.

Pictured above: Jennifer Bransford-Koons, Deputy Director, Health and Human Services Agency; Mark Vezzola, CILS Directing Attorney, Dorothy Alther, CILS Executive Director; Mark Radoff, CILS Senior Staff Attorney
CILS Receives Live Well San Diego Proclamation
July 26, 2016: CILS was presented a Live Well San Diego Proclamation by Jennifer Bransford-Koons, Deputy Director, Health and Human Services Agency, County of San Diego at our Keeping Native Families Safe Conference. The Proclamation signifies CILS' partnership with Live Well San Diego's vision of our region that is Building Better Health, Living Safely and Thriving to life.
July 19, 2016: The California Supreme Court recently invalidated a rule of court compelling counties to enroll tribal children in pre-ICWA dependency cases but affirmed Social Service's obligation to assist in enrollment after an Indian child finding has been made. The case, which is cited as In re Abbigail A., Ct.App. 3 C074264 originated in Sacramento County.

Rule of Court 5.482(c) required counties to apply "active efforts"
to enroll children before being deemed an Indian child and compelled the agency to "secure enrollment" after a tribe responds that a child may be eligible, but before eligibility or enrollment has occurred. Sacramento County objected that the rule essentially put the cart before the horse and applied the Act (and its active efforts standard) in advance of an ICWA finding. The state high court agreed and held that Rule of Court 5.482(c) exceeded state and federal statutory language.

By contrast, Rule of Court 5.484(c)(2) defines the actions that constitute "active efforts" and includes requiring the county agency to assist in enrolling Indian children who are eligible for membership. Social Services, by stepping into the parents' shoes, already assume a number of legal responsibilities for dependent children such as enrolling them in school, health care, and special education. Facilitating tribal membership is also one of those duties. This is significant because the agency usually possesses documents that tribes need to enroll a minor, such as birth certificates and social security cards.

CILS Releases New ICWA Webinar Series
June 30, 2016: CILS has released a new ICWA Webinar Series designed to provide tribal ICWA advocates with training resources and expertise. This project was sponsored by a grant from the State of California's Department of Health and Human Services.
The ICWA Webinar Series will expand the skills of tribal ICWA advocates. The substantive knowledge and advocacy skills developed through these webinars will better equip the advocates to more effectively represent their tribes and clients in court leading to better outcomes for tribal children and families. The goal is to ensure that Native American children are not deprived of their Indian heritage.
August 24, 2016: California Indian Legal Services and the California Tribal Court Judges' Association strongly urge you to contact your California Senators and Congressional Representative and encourage them to enact permanent funding for California Tribal Courts.

Tribal Courts situated in Public Law 280 (PL 280) states, such as California, have historically been denied tribal court and law enforcement funding by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). This lack of funding is based, in part, on the misconception that tribal judicial and law enforcement needs are being met by state courts and local law enforcement.  California tribes know this is inaccurate, and that there are real and substantial unmet legal needs on their Reservations and Rancherias.

Through a recent $10 million dollar appropriation, sponsored by Senator Murkowski from Alaska, for the first time, the BIA has been directed to comprehensively assess the needs of PL 280 tribal courts.  It is imperative to procure permanent and sustainable funding for tribal court operations in California and other PL 280 states.

Now is the time to educate your elected officials that California tribes should not be the second tier, and deprived the same benefits and funding shared by tribes in non-PL 280 states.  This is more than an equitable funding issue- it is also a public safety matter that is long overdue for congressional action.

Click here to get a  sample tribal letter , and you can use the following link to the House of  Representatives  directory  to locate your Congressperson's name and address.

Should you have any further questions, please feel free to contact Dorothy Alther at or (760)746-8941. 
BISHOP: Jasmine Andreas, Directing Attorney, presented at Toiyabe's Elder's Gathering and the Bishop Paiute Tribe's General Council meeting discussing estate planning under tribal law, state law, and federal law.

ESCONDIDO: Mark Vezzola, Directing Attorney,  recently obtained the dismissal of a disgruntled patron's lawsuit against a local tribe, its casino and gaming commission in San Diego court, challenging the tribe's exclusion order and civil fines. After being retained by the tribe CILS filed a motion to dismiss arguing sovereign immunity barred a state court from hearing the case. The judge agreed and dismissed the lawsuit. 

EUREKA:  Delia Parr, Eureka Directing Attorney presented at the Tribal Caucus and the Tribal Court/State Court Judges Forum Dinner on Department of Justice Task Force Report.

SACRAMENTO: Jedd Parr, Directing Attorney, and Sonia Montero, Advocate, delivered Indian Wills v. Buy Back Program presentations at Upper Lake Rancheria, Santa Rosa Sonoma Indian Health, Sacramento BIA Pacific Regional offices, and Round Valley Reservation.

STATEWIDE ICWA PROJECT: The Annual California Statewide ICWA Conference was held at Pala Casino and Resort on June 6th -8th. CILS presenters included Delia Parr, Mark Radoff and Dorothy Alther. Delia Parr, Eureka Directing Attorney, and Elizabeth Pacheco, Staff Attorney, provided tribal ICWA Advocate trainings at Rincon and Two Feathers Native American Family Services in McKinleyville, as well as an ICWA training designed for state Social Workers through the Northern California Training Academy. 

The Final State Compliance with the ICWA Report was issued by the Task Force at the end of July. This project was a major undertaking by tribal leaders and CILS, along with their ICWA attorneys, provided countless hours assisting the Task Force in preparing the final report. 
 CILS Seeks Community Representatives
for Board of Trustees - All Regions
The Board of Trustees of California Indian Legal Services (CILS) is currently accepting applications for appointments to the Board for Community Representatives from the southern region of California (for regional representation information, see list of counties covered in "Qualifications" section below). Members of the Board of Trustees play an active and significant role in shaping CILS. Serving on our Board of Trustees is both rewarding and challenging, and it offers a significant opportunity to impact the future of this organization that is so vital to California Indian individuals, families, communities and tribes.

CILS and the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians filed an Amicus Brief in support of the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians and the Soaring Eagle Casino Petitions for Certiorari at the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court denied the Petitions resulting in the 6th Circuit Court's decision standing which finds that the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) applies to tribal gaming facilities. 

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 needs low cost and no cost legal aid. We are here to provide this legal assistance and with your help, we can.
California Indian Legal Services