Wiyot and Bear River Tribes Call for “True Partnership” To Protect the Civil Rights of Loleta Students

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 12, 2017

 

Media Contact:

Lewis Cohen – NCYL: (510) 835-8098

press@aclunc.org – ACLU of Northern California: (415) 621-2493

Denise Bareilles – CA Indian Legal Services: (707)443-8397

Michelle Vassal – Wiyot Tribe: (707) 733-5055

Dakota McGinnis – Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria: (707) 733-1900

 

Loleta, CA – Tribal leaders are hailing the news that Loleta Union Elementary School District has

entered into a Voluntary Resolution Agreement with U.S. Department of Education. The Loleta

School Board is scheduled to discuss the agreement at its December 13th board meeting, which

will be held at 5pm in Room 8 at the Loleta Elementary School.

 

Leaders from the Wiyot Tribe and the Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria are now

requesting that the district meaningfully include tribal leaders and community members as the

district works to fulfill the terms of the agreement. “We appreciate that the district’s current

leadership has agreed to address longstanding concerns of our community,” said Ted

Hernandez, Tribal Chair of the Wiyot Tribe. “Entering into this agreement is an

acknowledgement that the district can and must do better for our students.”

 

The agreement follows an investigation by the Department’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) into

complaints that the Loleta Union Elementary School District was discriminating against Native

students on the basis of race. The Wiyot Tribe filed the complaint in December of 2013 and was

represented by the National Center for Youth Law, the ACLU of Northern California, and

California Indian Legal Services. The OCR investigation found substantial evidence that the

district had created a hostile environment for Native American students, disciplined Native

students more harshly than other students, and failed to provide legally mandated services for

students with disabilities. The complaint also charged the district with failing to pursue much needed

funding opportunities targeted to districts with significant Native populations.

 

The agreement requires the district to hire experts to address these problems and to establish a

community oversight committee with the participation of the tribes along with other

stakeholders. Council member Madison Flynn says the Wiyot Tribe is ready to participate but,

given the district’s troubling history, good faith measures are necessary. “The district needs to

hire a mutually agreeable expert that has the confidence of both the school employees and the

community,” said Flynn. “If we are going to commit our time and resources to making this very

ambitious plan work, we need to feel our engagement is meaningful and welcomed and that

we will be treated as full partners.”

 

Specifically, tribal representatives are requesting that an outside expert facilitator manage the

community oversight committee to ensure all voices are heard and valued. Given the multiple

overlapping deadlines for implementing key pieces of the agreement within the next year, the

tribal representatives want to ensure participation from the tribal councils, social service

directors and parents of children at the school from both the Wiyot Tribe and the Bear River

Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, along with members of the school board, district officials,

and representatives of the county Office of Education. “We all need to pull together to

accomplish the tasks set forth in the agreement,” said Vice-Chairperson Dakota McGinnis of the

Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria. “Our children will need resources from Loleta and

beyond to thrive and succeed.”

 

Attorney Denise H. Bareilles of California Indian Legal Services says the Stakeholder Equity

Committee should form workgroups on: School Discipline, Evaluation, Placement and Service

Implementation for Students with Disabilities, Harassment Based on Race or National Origin,

and Review of Policies Related to Participation in Graduation Exercises and Extracurricular

Activities. “The OCR investigation identified deficiencies in each of these areas. Any plan to fix

these problems will require concentrated and focused attention,” said Bareilles.

 

The tribal representatives recognize that this work will require resources. Noting that the

district has a history of failing to pursue much-needed funding opportunities, the tribes are

continuing to call upon the district to take advantage of the tribes’ familiarity and expertise in

funding opportunities targeted at Native American students. “We stand ready to help.” Said

McGinnis. “We hope the district is ready to take us up on this offer.”

 

On Thursday, December 14th, the Wiyot Tribe, Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria, the

American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and California Indian Legal Services (CILS) will host a

community meeting regarding the agreement between the Loleta Union Elementary School

District and the U.S. Department of Education. The meeting will take place from 6 – 7 PM at the

Tish Non Community Center, Bear River Band of the Rohnerville Rancheria, and is intended for

parents with children attending Loleta School, interested tribal members, and tribal staff. Those

who attend will learn more about the agreement, how to participate in a stakeholder

committee to monitor the district’s compliance with the agreement, and how to report any

ongoing issues to OCR.

 

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The National Center for Youth Law (NCYL) is a national non-profit organization that has been working for over four

decades to improve the lives of at-risk children. Employing a range of strategies, NCYL works to ensure that lowincome

children have the resources, support, and opportunities they need for healthy and productive lives.

 

The ACLU of Northern California is an enduring guardian of justice, fairness, equality, and freedom, working to

protect and advance civil liberties for all Californians.

 

California Indian Legal Services represents low-income Native Americans, tribes and tribal organizations on matters

of federal Indian law. We also provide tribal community education and trainings on a wide verity of subjects and

topics that involve federal and state legislation, regulations, policies and case law that impact individual Native

Americans, tribes and tribal communities. Our community education and trainings also extends to the non-Indian

community, state and federal agencies, local and state law enforcement, the state judiciary, and other entities.

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Tribal Economic Development Training in Bishop

Forming a Tribal Economic Development Entity to Meet the Tribe’s Needs

About Our Program

CILS and the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians (Tribe) will be hosting a one-day training for tribes with no or little economic development on their lands.  The training will focus on how to form a tribal economic development entity that can not only evaluate economic proposals presented to the tribe but help initiate economic projects that are compatible with the tribe’s needs and resources.  CILS will provide various legal structures for establishing a tribal economic development entity, the pros and cons, and how to protect tribal sovereign immunity.  Representatives from the Tribe will speak to their experience on how their economic development corporation has evolved over the years, how they got started, what worked and did not work and practical advice on their successes and failures.

Who should attend: Tribal Leaders, Tribal Administrators, Tribal Attorneys, Appropriate Tribal Administrative Staff (e.g., environmental department, land office, and water department), and Tribal Community Members.

Sponsored By

California Indian Legal Services in partnership with the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians.

 

When: 

December 12, 2017

Time: 

9:00 AM – 3:30 PM

Where: 

Whiskey Creek

524 N. Main Street

Bishop, CA

Space is Limited! RSVP by December 4th to reserve your spot

tedmiston@calindian.org

760-746-8941

or

kandreas@calindian.org

760-873-3581

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Tribal Economic Development Training in Redwood Valley

 

tribalecondevflyer

Forming a Tribal Economic Development Entity to Meet the Tribe’s Needs

About Our Program

CILS and the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians (Tribe) will be hosting a one-day training for tribes with no or little economic development on their lands.  The training will focus on how to form a tribal economic development entity that can not only evaluate economic proposals presented to the tribe but help initiate economic projects that are compatible with the tribe’s needs and resources.  CILS will provide various legal structures for establishing a tribal economic development entity, the pros and cons, and how to protect tribal sovereign immunity.  Representatives from the Tribe will speak to their experience on how their economic development corporation has evolved over the years, how they got started, what worked and did not work and practical advice on their successes and failures.

Who should attend: Tribal Leaders, Tribal Administrators, Tribal Attorneys, Appropriate Tribal Administrative Staff (e.g., environmental department, land office, and water department), and Tribal Community Members.

Sponsored By

California Indian Legal Services in partnership with the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians.

 

When: 

November 29, 2017

Time: 

9:00 AM – 3:30 PM

Where: 

Coyote Valley Casino Event Center

7751 N. State Street

Redwood Valley, CA 95470

Space is Limited! RSVP by November 20th to reserve your spot

tedmiston@calindian.org

760-746-8941

Download flyer here.

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CILS Celebrates Fifty Years of Legal Service to Native Communities in California

Escondido, CA – October 26, 2017: This year marks CILS’ 50th year of legal services in California Indian Country. Since its founding, CILS has taken on major issues impacting tribal sovereignty such as restoring lands to trust, quantifying tribes’ reserved water rights, obtaining equitable federal funding for California tribes, litigating discrimination and civil rights and fortifying tribal governments. During the last five decades CILS has also tackled tribal termination, Native prisoners’ religious rights, and renegotiating tribal gaming compacts.

CILS grew out for the California Rural Legal Assistance legal aid program that focused efforts on all rural communities amidst the political and social movements of the 1960s. Recognizing the uniquely complex legal issues facing Native American communities in California, attorney George Duke and a young Hoopa activist named David Risling began our story with the incorporation of CILS in 1967.

The life of the organization and its mission can be summed up succinctly enough. “CILS never gives up…always defending and enforcing Indian rights from forces that would cause harm. We are celebrating fifty years of serving California Indian communities with legal services that involve issues unique to Native Americans,” explains Mark Romero, Chairman of CILS’s Board of Trustees. “I could not be prouder of these accomplishments and look forward to celebrating all the legal victories for Indian people that will come in the next fifty years.”

CILS continues to grow with tribal communities in California and serves them through four offices strategically located in Bishop, Escondido, Eureka, and Sacramento. Protecting tribal communities requires constant vigilance. CILS actively serves clients and handles cases in all fifty-eight California counties. The organization is guided by a Board of Trustees comprised of tribal and community leaders, appointees of the State Bar of California, and representatives of the client-eligible population.

A Celebration of CLS’ 50th Anniversary

Pictured: Mark Romero, Chairman of CILS Board of Trustees, handing out gift bags to honored elders

Pictured: Dorothy Alther, Executive Director, CILS; Sheila Quinlan, CILS Board of Trustees and Attorney in private practice; Joe Ayala, CILS Board of Trustees and Attorney, State of California Office of Legislative Counsel

CILS’s 50th anniversary coincided with another special occasion, the observance of California Native American Day turning fifty, which was observed on Friday, September 22, 2017. In honor of our joint anniversaries, CILS and CNAD commissioned a poster to commemorate this historic double milestone. The poster featured a colorful bear created by award-winning artist John Balloue. These posters were handed out to all the attendees at CNAD. To honor the elders and tribal leaders participating in the festivities, CILS made gift bags that included posters, pins, and the history of CILS. The bags were handed out by members of the CILS Board of Trustees and its Executive Director, Dorothy Alther.

Following the CNAD celebration, CILS hosted an anniversary reception at the Hyatt Regency across the street from the State Capitol. The event was well attended by tribal representatives, past and current clients, representatives of government agencies, alumni attorneys and friends old and new. Guests were treated to performances by the Southbay Ramblers drumming group and the Chumash Intertribal Singers. André Cramblit, CILS Board of Trustees member, a traditional storyteller, and singer/drummer honored us with our opening prayer and shared a touching story about why he serves on the CILS Board. CILS also presented a short film on the history of CILS produced by Jack Kohler through On Native Ground’s productions. Governor Jerry Brown’s Tribal Liaison, Cynthia Gomez presented the Board of Trustees and our Executive Director with a proclamation acknowledging CILS’ accomplishments and the “efforts of CILS in removing the legacies of [California’s] historic wrongs and forging a better understanding among our peoples as we face the future together.”

Pictured: Diana Terrazas, Community Outreach Manager, Autry Museum; Tracy Stanhoff, President, American Indian Chamber of Commerce of CA; Nicole Scott, Director of Marketing and Development, California Indian Legal Services; Matthew Kennedy, Principal Landscape Architect, Costello Kennedy; Joe Ayala, CILS Board of Trustees and Attorney, State of California Office of Legislative Counsel

Pictured: Reception guests watching CILS’ 50th Anniversary video

Pictured: Chumash Inter-Tribal Singers

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CILS Completes Renovation of Escondido Office Building

Photo of the front of the Escondido office building. Fresh paint, updated safety features, landscaping, LED lighting, new entry doors, and signage were all part of the renovation project.

Photo of building before renovation.

Escondido, CA – September 10, 2017: CILS completed renovation of the Escondido office building in August. The exterior of the building was renovated with the goal of providing a welcoming and comfortable space.

The Escondido office is centrally located near several Indian reservations and provides legal assistance to individuals and tribes in Southern California. CILS purchased the building in 1998 to ensure legal services would be available for decades to come. This is the first time the Escondido office has been updated.

When starting the project, using Native-owned businesses was important to CILS, and CILS turned to California Indian Chamber of Commerce’s Tracy Stanhoff and Cheri Myron for help. The renovation was completed by GC Green Incorporated, an Indian- woman- and veteran-owned company. The project spanned eight months and cost $118,000 including painting, updated safety features, landscaping, lighting, new entry doors, and signage.

Elizabeth Perez, President of GC Green Incorporated, stated, “We were excited to assist CILS in their extensive plans to upgrade their building. Being an Indian-owned construction company allowed us to understand their vision of a native environment. They were insistent about using Indian vendors, and so were we.”

“The value of networking at California Indian Chamber is illustrated by our ability to find both a construction company and a landscape architect in one meeting,” said Nicole Scott, CILS Director of Development and Marketing. “The Chamber helped us locate Elizabeth Perez of GC Green and Matthew Kennedy of Costello Kennedy Landscape Architecture to aid in our renovation.”

The new landscaping, designed by Costello Kennedy Landscape Architecture, gives a feeling of the natural landscape environment. More than forty plants of twelve species, all of which are native to southern California, can be found throughout the new landscape.

Dorothy Alther, CILS Executive Director, stated, “The building renovation made a big difference in the way the building feels. When visitors arrive for the first time, they can find our building because of the new signage. We brought the native landscaping inside the building by placing plants in both the downstairs and upstairs corridors. At night we have LED lights and video cameras to create more safety. The renovation has improved the staff and visitor experience.”

The renovation was made possible by a Façade and Property Improvement Grant from the City of Escondido, a Neighborhood Reinvestment Program Grant from Supervisor Dave Roberts, a donation from the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and general donations throughout the year.

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