Please help CILS to protect and advance Indian rights!

Are you a client-eligible California Native American looking to help?

CILS has community board appointments that need to be filled.

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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.

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Escondido, CA – December 8, 2015: The CILS Board of Trustees, elected Mark Romero, a member and past Chairman of the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians, as its new Chairman and Victorio Shaw, a member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe and currently the California Tribal College Project Strategist for Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation as its new Vice Chairman.

“We are pleased and honored to have Mark’s and Victorio’s continued leadership and support on the CILS Board,” said Dorothy Alther, Executive Director of CILS. “The dedication and commitment of such prominent members of California Indian Country enable CILS to continue to serve all California Indian communities.”

The Board also seated two new Board members, Joe Ayala and Jessica Warner. Mr. Ayala is the Principal Deputy Legislative Counsel for the State of California, and comes to the Board as a State Bar representative. Ms. Warne, Principal of the Law Offices of Jessica Warne and former CILS law clerk, takes her seat as a community representative.

The members of the Board of Trustees play an integral role in ensuring the long-term sustainability and growth of CILS. For a full Board of Trustees list and additional information about CILS, visit

About CILS:
California Indian Legal Services is one of the oldest non-profit law firms in the country and largest in California that is devoted exclusively to the causes of Native American rights. CILS maintains four offices statewide and has been in operation for 48 years. CILS represents California Tribes, tribal organizations, and low-income individuals on matters of Indian law. For more information, please visit

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KCRS was awarded the “Outstanding Achievement in California Indian Law Award”.

Celebration photo of Steve Banegas, Spokesperson for Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee and Paul Cuero Vice Spokesperson and Dorothy Alther, Executive Director at California Indian Legal Services at the California Indian Law Association’s 15th Annual Indian Law Conference & Gala on Thursday, October 15, 2015 at the Jackson Rancheria Resort Casino in Jackson, California. KCRS was awarded the “Outstanding Achievement in California Indian Law Award”.
Congratulations to KCRC!

Kumeyaay Cultural Repatriation Committee

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Balancing tribal sovereignty with rights of workers article

CILS’s Mark Vezzola, Escondido office Directing Attorney, wrote a guest column for San Francisco Daily Journal titled “Balancing tribal sovereignty with rights of workers.” Mark’s article outlines how a proposed amendment to the National Labor Relations Act could change labor law in Indian country. A very good read. Article here.

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October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month


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