Tribal Alert: RMFA v Mazzetti Request for Amicus Brief Support

On April 20, 2012 the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued a decision in the Rincon Mushroom Farm of America (RMFA) v. Mazzetti finding that the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians (Tribe) could not regulate the activities of RMFA, a non-Indian corporation who has fee lands within the Rincon Reservation. Because the Tribe was found to lack jurisdiction over RMFA, RMFA were not required to exhaust their tribal court or administrative remedies to determine the Tribe’s jurisdiction over it. For further details regarding the case see the attached letter from the Rincon Tribe to Tribal Leaders.

The Rincon Tribe is requesting a rehearing of the case before a full panel of 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The Pala Band of Mission Indians, and the Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians are preparing an amicus brief (“friend of the court”) supporting the Tribe’s request for a rehearing.

This decision will have substantial impact on every tribe in the 9th Circuit that have:
1. Non-Indian fees lands on their reservation; and/or
2. Tribes that operate a Tribal Court; and/or
3. Tribes that have non-Indians that reside or visit their reservation.

The Amicus Brief Must be Filed on May 21, 2012

CILS is asking all California tribes to join the amicus brief or to submit a brief of their own. If you want to join the amicus brief Pala and Santa Ynez are preparing you will need to:
1. Authorize your tribe’s attorney to sign the brief on behalf of your tribe; or
2. Authorize CILS to sign the brief on behalf of the tribe. You do not need to be an existing client of CILS to authorize us to sign the brief your behalf.

Attached: Rincon Request for Support – Letter from Chairman Bo Mazzetti re Why your Tribe should sign on to the Tribal Amici Brief in RMCA v Mazzetti and Amicus Brief Coordination Procedures.

Please contact Dorothy Alther ( or Mark Vezzola ( or at 760-746-8941 or your local CILS office.

Click here for a .pdf version of this Alert.

Gala coming in October 2012

CILS is proud to announce our 45th Gala Celebration Plans

Please visit our Gala page for details about our October 24, 2012 Anniversary Gala.  This year marks nearly a half century of CILS’ service to Native communities in California.  The Gala promises to include a reception, auction, California cuisine and a California Native band. We are pleased to say that a growing number of tribes, along with the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), are generously helping to sponsor this event.  Our special thanks to Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, San Pasqual Band of Diegueno Mission Indians of California, Redding Rancheria and Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.

Another Succesful Tax Season Helping Taxpayers in Need

Tribal Alert: Thanks to the CILS I-CAN!™ E-File Partnership: 2011 Federal and State Income Tax Returns Surpass 2010 Amounts

Tax refunds totaling $349,859 were returned to over 215 low-income individuals thanks to CALIFORNIA INDIAN LEGAL SERVICES’  ICAN!™ E-FILE partnership with LEGAL AID SOCIETY OF ORANGE COUNTY.

Partnering with I-CAN!TM E-FILE allows CILS to assist you prepare individual federal and state income tax returns free of charge.  The program ensures that many of the special income tax issues facing Indian taxpayers are addressed.

2010 tax return refunds totaled $319, 506.  Each year more and more money is returned to taxpayers.  Keep CILS in mind for your 2012 tax return next year!

Download a .pdf copy of this Tribal Alert.

“I was with CILS when the first ICAN partnership was formed in 2004.  Eight years later I am privileged  to have coordinated the program for the past four years.  The amount of money returned to our community increases each year, this year by over $30,000!  Special thanks also goes to our ICAN Advocates who help us make this program so accessible.” – Angela Medrano, Escondido Staff Attorney


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.