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.

Support Tribal Identification Cards! Please Send Letters to Governor Brown Asking For His Signature on SB 997

California currently does not allow notaries public to accept tribal identification cards as a form of valid, personal identification for documents needing  notarization.  California Indian Legal Services in sponsorship with Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) supports Senate Bill 997 which is currently waiting  consideration by Governor Brown.  The Bill would add tribal identification cards to the list of acceptable forms of identification for notarial uses.  California is a vast state where tribal members, especially elders, may lack state-issued identification for a variety of reasons.  Many such individuals rely upon their tribal identification which cannot be used to authenticate their identity on document requiring notarization. SB 997 corrects this problem and brings California in line with other states which already accept tribal identification cards for notarial uses.  Please consider adding your support by letting Governor Brown know that you support SB 997.  Please see the link to a sample letter for your use.  For a complete history of SB 997 please visit:

Thank you for your support!  If you have any questions, please contact Jedd Parr at or Sonia Montero at

TRIBAL ALERT: Funding for California Tribal Courts

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.

Attached is 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. Thank you.

Good News: You can be a Native Foster Parent in Los Angeles County and make a Really Big Difference.

Get started by attending a Community Informational Meeting on Saturday, August 27 from 11AM to 1PM.


Event to Recruit Native Foster Homes in L.A.

Staff Attorney Position Available – Eureka Office

Looking for a Eureka Staff Attorney to work collaboratively with other staff to provide exceptional legal services in all areas of Federal Indian law.

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.  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.  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.
  • Demonstrated knowledge of Federal Indian law with at least 1-2 years of experience practicing law.
  • Excellent communication, writing and organizational skills.
  • Strong work ethic and able to work nights and weekends when many tribal councils meet.
  • Ability to travel 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:

  • Familiarity or experience working with Indian individuals, tribes or Indian communities.
  • Prior legal services experience.

Eureka Staff Attorney Job Announcement