As we enter the season of giving, we hope you consider California Indian Legal Services when making your charitable contributions. Since 1967, CILS has been at the forefront of protecting the rights of tribes and tribal peoples through its expertise in federal Indian law. Your donation to CILS will help us get closer to fulfilling our vision of ensuring that all Native Americans have access to the resources and services they need to thrive.

Our dedicated attorneys and staff work tirelessly to safeguard the civil rights of Native Americans, ensuring that they are protected from discrimination in all areas of their lives. We also strive to empower Tribal Nations by supporting their self-determination and nation-building efforts. With your support, we can continue to fight for justice and make a real difference in the lives of California’s Tribal peoples.

We are proud to be Californian, proud to be Native, and proud to serve. Join us in making a positive impact this holiday season by contributing to CILS.

Here are 20 more reasons why supporting Native-led and Native-focused non-profits like CILS is crucial. From the importance of our work to the benefits of our services, there are countless reasons why your donation will make a difference.

  1. Over 720,000 Native Americans in California can receive CILS services for free or low cost.
  2. According to the Investing in Native Communities report by Native Americans in Philanthropy and Candid, Native Americans make up 2.9 percent of the US population, but Native-serving causes receive only 0.4 percent of philanthropic dollars. 
  3. In 1974, CILS challenged the ability of county ordinances to restrict certain types of gambling on reservation land in Rincon Band of Mission Indians v. County of San Diego.
  4. We launched our water study project to provide a detailed overview of the legal and factual status of water rights possessed by California Indian tribes and public domain allotment owners to evaluate and prioritize the needs of California Indians for the protection and development of their water resources.
  5. Through In re Julian B., CILS won a victory for juvenile Indians by forcing state agencies to use better discretion when reviewing Indian Child Welfare Act matters.
  6. Your donation to CILS is tax-deductible. California Indian Legal Services, Inc., EIN 94-1676390, is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, so all donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
  7. CILS helps Native American children and their families benefit from a variety of educational programs under federal and state law that have been designed to advance the unique needs of Native American students.
  8. According to a Center for Effective Philanthropy report, 67% of foundation leaders say they provide little or no funding to organizations serving Native communities. 
  9. Our Northern and Southern Offices offer free, walk-in Domestic Violence Protection and Support Services with no income eligibility requirements.
  10. We partner with other Native American organizations to follow and contribute to amicus brief filings at the U.S. Supreme Court on issues that impact California tribes.
  11. There are 110 federally recognized Indian tribes, including several tribes with lands that cross state boundaries. There are also about 81 groups seeking federal recognition. CILS services are available for free or low cost to these tribes. 
  12. In 1983, CILS restored “terminated” California Tribes to their fully recognized status as tribal governments through Tillie Hardwick v. United States.
  13. Only 0.4% of large foundation giving goes to Native causes, and only .23% of large foundation giving goes to Native-led or Native-controlled non-profits. 
  14. In Malone v. Bureau of Indian Affairs, we preserved the rights of California Indians whose tribes have not been federally acknowledged.
  15. CILS represents tribes on Indian Child Welfare Act dependency cases.
  16. Our Eastern Office provides representation and assistance to those facing the loss of their housing through eviction. 
  17. CILS has proudly served California Indian communities for over 50 years.
  18. In 1988, we extended civil rights protections to Indians against state trespass onto their lands in the case Harold Hammond v. Madera County.
  19. We offer assistance in exercising tribal rights in matters related to cultural items or remains to which a tribe has a traceable relationship under AB 52 and CALNAGPRA. 
  20. Officially signed into law on September 28, 2018, CILS supported the amendment of AB 233 to allow students to wear cultural, religious, and traditional regalia at their high school graduations. CILS drafted and successfully ushered the bill through the Assembly and Senate, only to have Governor Brown vetoed it in 2017. Building on the work of CILS, Assemblymember Todd Gloria reintroduced the bill, AB 1248, and was successful in having Governor Brown sign the bill into law.