Tribal Economic Development Training



Forming a Tribal Economic Development Entity to Meet the Tribe’s Needs

About Our Program

CILS and the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians (Tribe) will be hosting a one-day training for tribes with no or little economic development on their lands.  The training will focus on how to form a tribal economic development entity that can not only evaluate economic proposals presented to the tribe but help initiate economic projects that are compatible with the tribe’s needs and resources.  CILS will provide various legal structures for establishing a tribal economic development entity, the pros and cons, and how to protect tribal sovereign immunity.  Representatives from the Tribe will speak to their experience on how their economic development corporation has evolved over the years, how they got started, what worked and did not work and practical advice on their successes and failures.

Who should attend: Tribal Leaders, Tribal Administrators, Tribal Attorneys, Appropriate Tribal Administrative Staff (e.g., environmental department, land office, and water department), and Tribal Community Members.

Sponsored By

California Indian Legal Services in partnership with the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians.



November 29, 2017


9:00 AM – 3:30 PM


Coyote Valley Casino Event Center

7751 N. State Street

Redwood Valley, CA 95470

Space is Limited! RSVP by November 20th to reserve your spot


Download flyer here.

CILS Celebrates Fifty Years of Legal Service to Native Communities in California

Escondido, CA – October 26, 2017: This year marks CILS’ 50th year of legal services in California Indian Country. Since its founding, CILS has taken on major issues impacting tribal sovereignty such as restoring lands to trust, quantifying tribes’ reserved water rights, obtaining equitable federal funding for California tribes, litigating discrimination and civil rights and fortifying tribal governments. During the last five decades CILS has also tackled tribal termination, Native prisoners’ religious rights, and renegotiating tribal gaming compacts.

CILS grew out for the California Rural Legal Assistance legal aid program that focused efforts on all rural communities amidst the political and social movements of the 1960s. Recognizing the uniquely complex legal issues facing Native American communities in California, attorney George Duke and a young Hoopa activist named David Risling began our story with the incorporation of CILS in 1967.

The life of the organization and its mission can be summed up succinctly enough. “CILS never gives up…always defending and enforcing Indian rights from forces that would cause harm. We are celebrating fifty years of serving California Indian communities with legal services that involve issues unique to Native Americans,” explains Mark Romero, Chairman of CILS’s Board of Trustees. “I could not be prouder of these accomplishments and look forward to celebrating all the legal victories for Indian people that will come in the next fifty years.”

CILS continues to grow with tribal communities in California and serves them through four offices strategically located in Bishop, Escondido, Eureka, and Sacramento. Protecting tribal communities requires constant vigilance. CILS actively serves clients and handles cases in all fifty-eight California counties. The organization is guided by a Board of Trustees comprised of tribal and community leaders, appointees of the State Bar of California, and representatives of the client-eligible population.

A Celebration of CLS’ 50th Anniversary

Pictured: Mark Romero, Chairman of CILS Board of Trustees, handing out gift bags to honored elders

Pictured: Dorothy Alther, Executive Director, CILS; Sheila Quinlan, CILS Board of Trustees and Attorney in private practice; Joe Ayala, CILS Board of Trustees and Attorney, State of California Office of Legislative Counsel

CILS’s 50th anniversary coincided with another special occasion, the observance of California Native American Day turning fifty, which was observed on Friday, September 22, 2017. In honor of our joint anniversaries, CILS and CNAD commissioned a poster to commemorate this historic double milestone. The poster featured a colorful bear created by award-winning artist John Balloue. These posters were handed out to all the attendees at CNAD. To honor the elders and tribal leaders participating in the festivities, CILS made gift bags that included posters, pins, and the history of CILS. The bags were handed out by members of the CILS Board of Trustees and its Executive Director, Dorothy Alther.

Following the CNAD celebration, CILS hosted an anniversary reception at the Hyatt Regency across the street from the State Capitol. The event was well attended by tribal representatives, past and current clients, representatives of government agencies, alumni attorneys and friends old and new. Guests were treated to performances by the Southbay Ramblers drumming group and the Chumash Intertribal Singers. André Cramblit, CILS Board of Trustees member, a traditional storyteller, and singer/drummer honored us with our opening prayer and shared a touching story about why he serves on the CILS Board. CILS also presented a short film on the history of CILS produced by Jack Kohler through On Native Ground’s productions. Governor Jerry Brown’s Tribal Liaison, Cynthia Gomez presented the Board of Trustees and our Executive Director with a proclamation acknowledging CILS’ accomplishments and the “efforts of CILS in removing the legacies of [California’s] historic wrongs and forging a better understanding among our peoples as we face the future together.”

Pictured: Diana Terrazas, Community Outreach Manager, Autry Museum; Tracy Stanhoff, President, American Indian Chamber of Commerce of CA; Nicole Scott, Director of Marketing and Development, California Indian Legal Services; Matthew Kennedy, Principal Landscape Architect, Costello Kennedy; Joe Ayala, CILS Board of Trustees and Attorney, State of California Office of Legislative Counsel

Pictured: Reception guests watching CILS’ 50th Anniversary video

Pictured: Chumash Inter-Tribal Singers

Staff Attorney Position Available – Escondido Office

Program Description:

California Indian Legal Services is a statewide, tribally controlled, non-profit corporation that provides legal services to Indian tribes, Indian organizations and low income individual Indians on issues involving Federal Indian Law. CILS provides a variety of legal services including brief counsel and advice and extended representation on core legal issues affecting Native Americans and Indian tribes. CILS is involved in litigation, policy analysis and advocacy and also provides transactional services to tribes involving economic development and tribal infrastructure. CILS has four offices throughout California. Additional information about CILS may be found on our website at

Job Description:

Supervised by the Directing Attorney, the Staff Attorney will work collaboratively with other staff to provide exceptional legal services in all areas of Federal Indian law. Our fast-paced office provides legal services on issues of jurisdiction, tax, estate planning, trust assets, environmental law, natural resource development, tribal governance, employment and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). The Staff Attorney will assume a varied case load that may include: brief counsel and services to low income Indian individuals; state and federal court litigation; contract negotiation; advising tribal clients; developing and implementing constitutions, codes, and policies for tribal clients; making presentations; and ICWA related dependency cases.


 California bar membership in good standing.
 Excellent communication, writing and organizational skills.
 Strong work ethic and able to work nights and weekends when many tribal councils meet.
 Ability to travel overnight and a valid driver’s license.
 A commitment to providing high quality legal services for Indian people.
 Ability to work independently, as part of a team and to take initiative.

The following qualifications are desirable but not absolutely required:

 Demonstrated knowledge of Federal Indian law with at least 1-3 years of experience practicing law.
 Familiarity or experience working with Indian individuals, tribes or Indian communities.
 Prior legal services experience.


Competitive salary D.O.E. CILS offers full family/partner medical, vision and dental benefits, AD&D, short & long-term disability insurances, life insurance, Section 125 Flexible Spending Account, generous leave policies and potential for annual performance incentive.

To Apply:

Submit a resume, cover letter, and writing sample to Patricia De La Cruz-Lynas, Director of Administration, California Indian Legal Services, Re: Sacramento Staff Attorney, 117 J Street, Suite 300, Sacramento, CA 95814. E-mail We will accept applications until the position is filled. All applicants will be notified when a final hiring decision is made.

Administrative Assistant Position Available – Eureka Office

Program Description:                                                                                                                            

California Indian Legal Services is a statewide, tribally controlled, non-profit corporation that provides legal services to Indian tribes, Indian organizations and low-income individual Indians on issues involving Federal Indian Law.  CILS provides a variety of legal services including brief counsel and advice and extended representation on core legal issues affecting Native Americans and Indian tribes.  CILS is involved in litigation, policy analysis, and advocacy and also provides transactional services to tribes involving economic development and tribal infrastructure.

CILS has four offices throughout California.  Our Sacramento office provides legal services in 7 counties that include 18 of the 110 federally recognized tribes in California.

Job Description:

Under the supervision of the Directing Attorney, the Administrative Assistant will be responsible for providing administrative and clerical support for the Eureka Office staff, as well as a broad range of program activities. Specific duties may vary considerably over time, but are likely to include:

  • Answer and direct incoming calls
  • Greet and assist all clients and visitors to the office
  • Type correspondence and other legal documents in support of the legal staff
  • Sort and distribute daily mail; process outgoing mail
  • Monitor and stock office supplies
  • Arrange for maintenance and repair of office equipment
  • Data entry, copying, calendaring and general filing
  • Assist with file creation, maintenance, and organization
  • Assist with the preparation of reports, presentations, and other publications
  • Manage phone and voicemail system;
  • Calendar and tickle cases;
  • Coordinate travel and related tasks;
  • Other administrative and clerical tasks, as assigned


AA/Clerical school degree preferred or previous clerical experience.  Must be proficient in MS Office, other standard software programs; have excellent communication and typing skills; and experience with telephone systems.  Must demonstrate the ability to interact with clients in a professional and courteous manner. CA driver’s license required. Knowledge of or interest in Indian communities and/or legal services is preferred.


DOE.  This is an hourly, full-time, non-exempt position at 40 hours per week. Generous leave policies and potential annual performance incentive.  We provide family/partner medical, dental and vision benefits.

To Apply:

Please submit resume and letter of interest to Patricia De La Cruz-Lynas, Director of Administration, California Indian Legal Services, 609 S. Escondido Blvd., Escondido, CA 92025.  E-mail



CILS Completes Renovation of Escondido Office Building

Photo of the front of the Escondido office building. Fresh paint, updated safety features, landscaping, LED lighting, new entry doors, and signage were all part of the renovation project.

Photo of building before renovation.

Escondido, CA – September 10, 2017: CILS completed renovation of the Escondido office building in August. The exterior of the building was renovated with the goal of providing a welcoming and comfortable space.

The Escondido office is centrally located near several Indian reservations and provides legal assistance to individuals and tribes in Southern California. CILS purchased the building in 1998 to ensure legal services would be available for decades to come. This is the first time the Escondido office has been updated.

When starting the project, using Native-owned businesses was important to CILS, and CILS turned to California Indian Chamber of Commerce’s Tracy Stanhoff and Cheri Myron for help. The renovation was completed by GC Green Incorporated, an Indian- woman- and veteran-owned company. The project spanned eight months and cost $118,000 including painting, updated safety features, landscaping, lighting, new entry doors, and signage.

Elizabeth Perez, President of GC Green Incorporated, stated, “We were excited to assist CILS in their extensive plans to upgrade their building. Being an Indian-owned construction company allowed us to understand their vision of a native environment. They were insistent about using Indian vendors, and so were we.”

“The value of networking at California Indian Chamber is illustrated by our ability to find both a construction company and a landscape architect in one meeting,” said Nicole Scott, CILS Director of Development and Marketing. “The Chamber helped us locate Elizabeth Perez of GC Green and Matthew Kennedy of Costello Kennedy Landscape Architecture to aid in our renovation.”

The new landscaping, designed by Costello Kennedy Landscape Architecture, gives a feeling of the natural landscape environment. More than forty plants of twelve species, all of which are native to southern California, can be found throughout the new landscape.

Dorothy Alther, CILS Executive Director, stated, “The building renovation made a big difference in the way the building feels. When visitors arrive for the first time, they can find our building because of the new signage. We brought the native landscaping inside the building by placing plants in both the downstairs and upstairs corridors. At night we have LED lights and video cameras to create more safety. The renovation has improved the staff and visitor experience.”

The renovation was made possible by a Façade and Property Improvement Grant from the City of Escondido, a Neighborhood Reinvestment Program Grant from Supervisor Dave Roberts, a donation from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and general donations throughout the year.