Escondido, CA – June 6, 2018: Over the past fifty-one years, California Indian Legal Services (CILS) has witnessed dynamic changes in the lives of our people from one end of the State to the other. During this time, challenges, needs, and conditions have ebbed and flowed depending on fiscal, regulatory, and social circumstances, and CILS has adjusted its efforts accordingly. To remain current and relevant to these ever-changing needs, CILS is conducting a statewide tribal legal needs assessment to determine tribes’ legal needs. What are the most pressing issues CILS should be focusing our attention and resources on?
Mark Romero, Chairman of the CILS Board of Trustees and former Chair of the Mesa Grande Band of Indians, and Nicole Scott, CILS Director of Marketing and Development are visiting tribes throughout California to talk about their current legal issues. They are conducting a statewide tribal legal needs assessment with Tribal Councils, administrators, and other leaders to discuss how CILS can best serve tribes and our Native American community as a whole.
Since February 2018, Mark and Nicole have met with ten tribes in southern California. We anticipate it will take two years to reach our goal of visiting every tribe throughout the state. From visits we have learned tribes are looking at revising their Constitutions, drafting more tribal codes, have school discrimination concerns, and are increasing economic development. The first ten tribes gave us great advice. “Visit all the tribes, and find ways to help groups with the same regional problems”; “Keep doing what you are doing”; “Go and talk with the tribes about issues, and find legal solutions.”
“These meetings allow us to get insight into what legal issues each tribe is focusing on and regional problems many tribes face. The assessments will help CILS prepare for the coming legal challenges and understand what tribes want most,” stated Mark Romero, Chairman of the CILS Board of Trustees. “It is humbling to think about all the legal victories tribes have won through the decades. Meeting with Tribal Councils, both old and new, reminds me of the story we are writing for the future generations. These legal victories play a big part in our future.”
“CILS will be reaching out to all California tribes for their valuable advice and counsel on how to best serve our community moving forward. The tribal legal needs assessment takes about an hour and helps CILS understand which issues need our attention and resources. We look forward to visiting each tribe,” said Nicole Scott, CILS Director of Marketing and Development.