Tribal Identification Cards to be Accepted by California Notaries Public

September 22, 2016: CILS is happy to report that 2017 will usher in a much-needed change to California’s notary laws regarding the acceptance of tribal identification cards. The Honorable California Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Garden), in cooperation with CILS, sponsored Senate Bill 997 which allows California notaries public to accept tribal identification cards from federally recognized tribes as a form of identification for notarial acts.
The change is a recognition by California lawmakers of the struggles some tribal members face when their tribal identification cards are rejected as valid forms of identification for documentation requiring notarial seals.

7a0fb1d5-dd81-4692-ac11-a13dac5010fcTribal members living in rural areas of California often find it difficult to travel to larger towns where county and state agencies issue their forms of identification. Now these individuals will be able to present their tribal ID cards as valid identification so long as the card is current or issued within the last five years, contain a photograph, a description of the person, a signature, and a serial or other identifying number such as a tribal enrollment number.

CILS staff are delighted to have supported the passage of this law which now brings California in line with other states who have a large percentage of Native American populations.
“I’ve been a notary public for 18 years working with California tribal communities,” said Sonia Montero, CILS advocate who testified in support of the law. “It is a welcome and useful change. I’m proud CILS played a part in supporting this law and I’m grateful California lawmakers made this a reality.” 

CILS Sponsors Special Performance of “Something Inside Is Broken” on Native American Day

Join us Friday, September 23rd at 6 PM. California Indian Legal Services invites you to a special performance of “Something Inside Is Broken” after the Native American Day celebration at the State Capitol. This is the first Native American produced Rock Opera Musical depicting pre-gold rush California. A reception will be held at 6 PM by California Indian Legal Services.Poster (8.5x11)

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