By Mark Romero (Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians),
CILS Board Chairman
Serving on the California Indian Legal Services Board of Trustees has been a great honor. To serve as the Chairman of the Board is an even bigger honor. Over the years, I have watched the organization struggle at times, but I have also had the opportunity to see it grow. I have seen some staff come and go, and for those who have left, I wish only the best for them. As a former Tribal Leader and my upbringing, I have a love for community. When the colonizers came, they tried to tear down and destroy our Indigenous communities. But because of the strength and resiliency of our ancestors, they failed to do that. That strength and resiliency have been passed down from generation to generation.
I was blessed to attend the California Native American Day Tribal Leaders Summit with CILS Executive Director Heather Hostler this year. It was good to see long-time friends and them still serving their people. It was also good to see some young folks who have stepped into that role. The Young Warriors are our future, so we must ensure we are preparing them.
CILS is moving in a new direction. We are seeking Legislative fixes for issues that plague Indian Country. It was good to see my old friend Assemblyman James Ramos and to hear him talk about one of our bills, AB44. I got the opportunity to talk to him, and he is anxious to work with us on future bills. He said his office is open to us.
Attending the California Native American Day celebration at the Capitol was moving for me. I was watching the cultural demonstrations and some of the Elders as they observed the youth participating. The looks of pride on their faces. This is what we need to do. Teach the culture to our youth about sovereignty and what it means. Teach them to continue to protect it when we Elders leave here.
The future is in their hands.