Protecting Individual Native American Rights
CILS, on behalf of Leticia Gonzales, a graduating high school student and her mother Carrie Jones, successfully negotiated a dispute with Bishop Union High School involving Leticia’s right to wear traditional beading adorned on her cap and a beaded eagle feathers at her June 5th, 2015 graduation ceremony. Having initially denied Leticia’s request, Superintendent Barry Simpson and Principal Randy Cook of the high school agreed to reconsider their denial after CILS brought to their attention concerns from Leticia and her family and the Bishop Paiute Tribe. Through a series of meeting and negotiation, CILS was able to get the school to reverse their earlier denial. Leticia, as well as, other graduating Native American students, proudly wore their traditional regalia at graduation. Also proud was Leticia’s grandmother, a Bishop Paiute tribal elder, who had done the beading on her granddaughter’s graduation cap in Bishop High’s colors to honor her granddaughter, her oldest grandchild and the first in their family to receive a diploma from Bishop Union High School.
School Discrimination: After repeated complaints from Native American parents and students of being subjected to verbal and physical harassment and excessive discipline practices by the Loleta Union School District in Humboldt County and the Fall River Joint Unified School District in Shasta County, CILS filed race discrimination complaints cases with the federal Office of Civil Rights (OSR). The students are members of the local tribes in the school district, which includes the Bear River Band of Rohinerville Rancheria, the Wiyot Tribe and the Pit River Tribe. CILS worked closely with American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)of Northern California and the National Youth Law Center. Both cases continue to be under investigation and have been featured in local media and Indian Country Times. Once receive findings from the OCR, the tribes, CILS and students will move with negotiating appropriate remedies.
Community Education and Trainings
California State Parks training grant: Through a grant from the State Park Service, CILS was selected to provide training to Park employees on the legal requirements for Tribal Consultation under state law. This training was an opportunity to not only educate Park staff on the law but also how to approach tribes for consultation on matters that can be highly sensitive and confidential to tribal people.
PL 280-Tribal Courts-Tribal Law Enforcement: CILS reached out to its Northern California Tribes for a one day educational presentation on Public Law 280 Jurisdiction and the development or enhancement of Tribal Courts and Tribal Law Enforcement.
CILS also held a similar presentation over two days for tribes located in the Central Valley. The presentation was co-sponsored by The Tule River Tribe.
Policy and Legislative Updates
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) issued revised Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) guidelines after more than three decades. The Guidelines are designed to guide state courts in the application of the ICWA in state child custody proceedings. Since the release of the Guidelines, the BIA has issued proposed regulations which incorporates many of the Guidelines, giving them the force of law. CILS prepared extensive comments on both the Guidelines and the proposed Regulations, and did a California wide outreach to Tribes encouraging them to submit comments in an effort to show broad tribal support of the regulations.
Amicus Briefs (Friend of the Court Briefs) at California Supreme Court:
In re. Isaiah W: CILS filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court on April 20, 2015. The central issue in the case was whether the Native American’s mother, in a CPS dependency case, who failed to timely file on an appeal of the court’s non-compliance with the ICWA at the disposition phase of the case operates as a bar to the Tribe’s right to appeal and challenge the court’s ICWA non-compliance.
In re Abbigail A: CILS filed an amicus brief with the California Supreme Court on May 14, 2015. The central issue in the case is whether a court should proceed to apply the ICWA where the biological parent and minor child are Native American but not enrolled in their tribe. The lower court held that ICWA does not apply until enrollment of the parent and child is completed.
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