Victory against museum’s mistreatment of cultural items

“Without lawyers like California Indian Legal Services, no one would have helped us.” – C. McCloud


CILS and Pro Bono partner Procopio, Cory, Hargreaves & Savitch LLP announced the settlement of a lawsuit brought against the Napa Valley Museum after the Museum damaged and misplaced a number of cultural items loaned to the Museum by Coleen McCloud and Chester McCloud, both California Indians.  The Museum had originally ignored the McCloud’s repeated requests for the return of their items – until the McClouds turned to CILS.  Resolution of the matter included monetary compensation to the McClouds, an apology from the Museum for the mishandling of items, and significant operational changes, including the adoption of a new policy, at the Museum to avoid future mistreatment of loaned articles. The Legal Team worked with Native American Museum experts in the development of industry-standard lending agreements to be used in any future borrowing and display of Native American Cultural items by the Napa Museum.  Read the full Press Release.

Field Office Move

Our Sacramento Office Has Moved

Please note our new location in the heart of Sacramento’s Old Town District: 117 J Street, Suite 300, Sacramento CA  95814. The Sacramento phone number remains (916) 978-0960 but our new fax number is (916) 400-4891.


Happy anniversary, Dorothy

 A noteworthy milestone

Today marks Dorothy Alther’s 23rd anniversary with CILS.  Dorothy is a veteran of CILS and a true asset to our program.  Her positive relationships with CILS’ tribal clients, her wealth of knowledge in Indian law, and her endless energy demonstrate her commitment to the betterment of Indian country in California and nationwide.  Her recent efforts in the areas of California tribal law enforcement have begun a wave of resurgence among California tribes to assert their authority in the area of tribal police and to question BIA and other state and federal agencies policies and procedures in dealing with California tribes and their inherent jurisdiction.  Dorothy’s achievements warrant more than we can write here, so please keep a look out on our Escondido staff page and Pierce-Hickerson Award story and photo for more about Dorothy and her tenure with CILS.  A sincere congratulations and thank you to you, Dorothy, for your part in making CILS the outstanding law firm we are today.  Photo courtesy of NLADA.

IRS Extends Comment Period re Exclusion for Tribal Programs

TRIBAL ALERT February 15, 2012

EXTENDED Commenting Period on General Welfare Exclusion for
Tribal Benefit Programs


The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is extending the time limit for commenting on guidance the agency issued regarding the application of the general welfare exclusion to Indian tribal government programs. The general welfare exclusion allows certain tribal government social welfare program income to be excluded as taxable income.  Many gaming tribes in their Revenue Allocation Plan (RAP) have a provision for the allocation of gaming revenue for “general welfare.” Over the years there has been confusion with regard to whether a tribal social program established under the tribe’s “general welfare” RAP automatically qualified the program for the IRS “general welfare exemption.”  In many cases the tribal program did not qualify, thus exposing the tribe and tribal members to tax liability. Written comments are now due on or before March 14, 2012.  To read more visit:

For a .pdf copy of this Alert, click here.


Los Coyotes v ERTC Eviction Ruling

A victory in the Intertribal Court of Southern California

In a decision issued on February 2, 2012, the Intertribal Court of Southern California ruled in favor of the Los Coyotes Tribe in an eviction proceeding against the Eagle Rock Training Center (ERTC) regarding a disputed lease under which ERTC claimed to control a substantial portion of the Tribe’s Warner Springs Reservation. The Reservation, which covers 25,000 acres, is the largest in San Diego County and ERTC claimed permission to use a portion of it for artillary practice, weapons discharge, and military training, all of which inflicted a toll on tribal cultural sites, road access, grading of land, and created the potential for fire danger. The tribe’s General Council disputed the nature and extent of the use, and took issue with ERTC refusing to obtain tribal permits. In June 2011 Los Coyotes voted to exclude ERTC from the Reservation, and issued a Notice to Vacate. Again in September 2011, when ERTC had not vacated the Tribe served a notice of violation of Tribal laws, including environmental non-compliance, law and order violations, grading violations, and not allowing Tribal members access to their own Reservation. Since the alleged lease was never submitted or approved by the BIA, and  was not voted on by the General Council, the Tribe also took issue with any occupancy of its Indian lands based on an invalid lease.  California Indian Legal Services’ Mark Radoff represented the Tribe, in the eviction case, and is also representing the Tribe in an ongoing Federal Court case where ERTC is trying to enjoin the Tribe from enforcing its laws. That court’s preliminary ruling was that the “alleged” lease did not have a valid waiver of the the Tribe’s sovereign immunity, and was therefore unenforceable. A  motion to dismiss the Federal lawsuit is currently pending. The tribal court decision is great victory for tribal sovereignty.