CILS Receives the California Bar Foundation Public Interest Legal Fellowship Grant

Escondido, CA – October 26, 2016: CILS is pleased to announce a Public Interest Legal Fellowship Grant from the California Bar Foundation, in support of our Tribal Court development program in our Bishop Office. This program provides training for tribes in the Bishop service area.

The California Bar Foundation Public Interest Legal Fellowship Program funds diverse law students and attorneys to serve low-income clients in rural communities. The grant objective was to build a pipeline of diverse attorneys for rural legal aid agencies in California. This fellowship program addresses CalBar Foundation’s top priorities: improving access to justice for all Californians, and supporting diverse recent law graduates and law students who are committed to becoming public interest attorneys.

CalBar funded our summer fellow, Laura Neacato, for our Bishop Office and now has partnered with CILS again for a one year fellow. One of the primary projects the fellow will be focused on is Tribal Court development. Currently, the Bishop Paiute Tribe is the only tribe in the Owens Valley area that has a Tribal Court.

Jasmine Andreas, Directing Attorney of the CILS Bishop Office, stated, “our core area of practice is federal Indian law. Our Bishop Office not only houses our Indian law program but also provides basic field non-Indian legal services to low-income and elderly clients. The Bishop Office is located in a remote area of the Eastern Sierra, Inyo County, which creates its own challenges to clients in need of legal assistance.”

“Having been in existence for almost 50 years demonstrates CILS’ commitment to a diverse, inclusive staff and work environment,” said Dorothy Alther, CILS Executive Director. “Numerous attorneys at CILS came to us through an internship or fellowship program. Because of our unique and special legal service population (Indian law) and that our work will take attorneys into extremely remote and isolated communities, it is imperative for new attorneys to have some prior experience with who we are, who we serve and where they will be meeting their clients.”

TRIBAL ALERT: Support Tribal Access to National Crime Databases


IMPORTANT NOTICE— the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) is expanding the Tribal Access Program (TAP), which allows qualified tribes to access national crime databases for both criminal and civil purposes.  The TAP program is being implemented in phases with the current phase open to tribes who authorize the enforcement of tribal criminal law or who hold a Deputation Agreement with the Office of Justice Service.  The TAP program will allow tribal law enforcement access to criminal background information on criminal detainees and suspects and also allow tribal agencies to request, through the tribal police department, criminal information for non-criminal purposes such background checks for staff, housing applicants, and potential foster care placements for dependent children.  Please see the attached announcement for more information on the TAP’s scope, expansion, and requirements.

There is a deadline of December 2, 2016 for tribes to apply for the TAP program.  CILS is encouraging all qualified tribes interested in accessing criminal information for criminal and non-criminal purposes to consider applying.  While DOJ may not have the resources to approve all tribes seeking the TAP program,  an outpour of application from California tribes will demonstrate the need for greater access and for future funding to continue the program’s expansion.

The DOJ’s TAP website also lists a series of webinars, to provide information to tribes considering the TAP, on the below dates and times (Eastern time).  They ask that tribes email to sign up for these webinars or to join the TAP listserv for future information/announcements.

Tuesday, October 25 at 11 am EST

Thursday, October 27 at 2 pm EST

Monday, October 31 at 1 pm EST

Wednesday, November 2 at 10 am EST

Tuesday, November 22, at 3 pm EST

Monday, November 28, at 11 am EST

Thank you for your support!  If you have any questions, please contact Jedd Parr at or (916) 978-0960 x 308.

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.

7a0fb1d5-dd81-4692-ac11-a13dac5010fcTribal 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 Sponsors Special Performance of “Something Inside Is Broken” on Native American Day

Join us Friday, September 23rd at 6 PM. California Indian Legal Services invites you to a special performance of “Something Inside Is Broken” after the Native American Day celebration at the State Capitol. This is the first Native American produced Rock Opera Musical depicting pre-gold rush California. A reception will be held at 6 PM by California Indian Legal Services.Poster (8.5x11)

CILS Seeks Community Representatives for Board of Trustees – All Regions

board-of-trusteesThe 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 the 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 great opportunity to impact the future of this organization that is so vital to California Indian individuals, families, communities and tribes.

Board members are expected to attend four (4) quarterly Board meetings each year; at a minimum three (3) via teleconference and one (1) in-person for the June quarterly meeting (in-person attendance for all meetings is encouraged), attend at least one (1) CILS sponsored event per year, participate on 1-2 Board committees, contribute an average of 1-2 hours per month between quarterly meetings, attend Board development retreats and trainings, participate in annual strategic planning sessions and fundraising efforts, make a personally significant financial contribution each year (100% participation from the board is expected), and actively contribute their expertise to the Board’s important role in CILS’ organizational and programmatic affairs including recruiting new Board members as well as community relations.

The Community Representative positions on the Board are necessary, as they offer an opportunity to speak to and advocate for the needs and expectations of the communities we serve. Towards that end, low-income applicants are particularly encouraged to apply. Applications are currently being considered for open vacancies and holdover appointments. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis as appointments expire or become vacant. We currently have one (1) northern region and two (2) southern region community representative seat vacancies. The northern region seat and one (1) of the southern region seats must be
filled by a client-eligible individual (see “Qualifications” section below for detailed information). The Board of Trustees will be reviewing applications for an appointment at its December 2016 quarterly meetings.

CILS is an Indian-controlled, non-profit law firm devoted exclusively to the cause of Native American rights. CILS was the first non-profit Indian rights law firm in the country and for over forty-seven years, we have provided California tribes and Indian individuals with direct representation, advocacy, public policy, and community-building services. Through free and low-cost legal services on such matters as child welfare, Indian land issues, discrimination, housing, public benefits eligibility, probate, tribal sovereignty, expansion of the Indian land base, and repatriation of sacred items, CILS fulfills its mission to protect and advance Indian rights, foster Indian self-determination, and facilitate tribal nation-building.

CILS has four (4) field offices throughout California. Locations include Bishop, Escondido, Eureka and Sacramento. The Principal Office of CILS is also housed in the Escondido CILS office. Our Board of Trustees is composed of eleven (11) individuals: four (4) attorney appointments made by the State Bar of California and seven (7) community representatives recommended/nominated by California Indian tribes and organizations.

To be eligible for appointment to the CILS Board of Trustees as a Community Representative, an individual must be California Indian. Recommendations for appointment of Community Representatives are made by California Indian tribes and organizations: federally-recognized Indian tribes, terminated Indian tribes, unrecognized Indian tribes, Indian associations, organizations, and groups. The individual must be a resident of California and reside in the geographic area that they will represent (see below to determine which region the applicant would serve).

Northern California Counties include: Alameda, Alpine, Amador, Butte, Calaveras, Colusa, Contra Costa, Del Norte, El Dorado, Glenn, Humboldt, Lake, Lassen, Madera, Marin, Mariposa, Mendocino, Merced, Modoc, Mono, Napa, Nevada, Placer, Plumas, Sacramento, San Francisco, San Joaquin, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Shasta, Sierra, Siskiyou, Solano, Sonoma, Stanislaus, Sutter, Tehama, Trinity, Tuolumne, Yolo, and Yuba.

Southern California Counties include: Fresno, Imperial, Inyo, Kern, Kings, Los Angeles, Monterey, Orange, Riverside, San Benito, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Tulare and Ventura.

Some, but not all, of CILS’s Board of Trustee positions, must be filled by low-income individuals. To be considered low-income, individuals must have a household income equal to or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Income Guidelines (FPIG). In some instances, an individual may have a household income equal to or below 200% of the FPIG and still qualify. Eligibility will be assessed during the appointment process. Questions regarding qualifications and eligibility may be directed to Patricia De La Cruz-Lynas at the phone number below.

All applications are comprised of: 1) a letter of interest and 2) resume from the individual. In their letter of interest, applicants should describe not only their interest in serving on the CILS Board, but also specific skills, experience, or areas of expertise they would bring to the Board. Applicants should indicate the name of the California Indian tribe, organization, or group that would support their application. Before appointment, a formal resolution, support letter or similar action from the recommending organization or tribe must be submitted.

If you are an individual who would like to apply, or you are an organization that would like to nominate an individual for an appointment, please contact Patricia De La Cruz-Lynas, California Indian Legal Services, 609 South Escondido Blvd., California 92025; (916) 978-0960 ext. 314. Applications may also be submitted via email to Applications will be considered on a rolling basis as appointments expire or become vacant.