VIEJAS FIREFIGHTERS TRAVEL FROM ALPINE, CALIFORNIA TO ALPINE, ARIZONA--HELPING TO BATTLE HUGE WILDFIRE
By Miriam Raftery
June 12, 2011 (Alpine, Arizona) -- Four firefighters from the Viejas Tribal Fire Department in Alpine, California, are now in Alpine, Arizona, where they are helping to battle the Wallow Fire. The second largest wildfire in Arizona’s history, the Wallow Fire has charred over 443,989 acres, injured seven people, destroyed 29 homes and threatened thousands more.
“The Viejas fire crew is driving a Brush Engine, designed for fighting wildfires in rugged, remote areas,” said Robert Scheid, Viejas public relations director. “It has 4-wheel drive, holds 280 gallons of water and carries 1,200 feet of hose.”The Viejas fire crew includes two firefighters, one engineer and one Captain. They arrived June 7 in eastern Arizona, joining over 4,311 firefighters and other personnel now fighting the Wallow Fire, which has spread into New Mexico.
Viejas Fire Chief Don Butz has provided ECM with photos of his dedicated crew on the fire lines.
Photos by Sami Roy Photography
June 11, 2011 (El Cajon) – Paipa’s Buffet restaurant has reopened in a new location within the Syucan Casino. The restaurant, which is entirely smoke-free, has been renovated with a new kitchen, seating for 320 people, more specialty food stations and new design elements.
Executive Chef Paul Schwab is complementing visual upgrades by incorporated new menu items including brick oven pizza, a fresh pasta station, grilled steaks, freshly made tortillas,and an expansive new dessert bar.
June 11, 2011 (Mesa Verde) -- La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle and the Colorado River Environmental Warriors invite the public to join in a protest June 18 that tribal members hope will help stop destruction of sacred Native American sites by approved desert solar power projects in California. Native Americans have raised concerns about numerous desert solar farms planned in the state, including a project in Imperial County that would bring power to San Diego. The June 18 protest is slated for Blythe, however, where construction is underway and ancient geoglyphs are reportedly being destroyed.
Top casino designers tapped to make over East County casino
June 9, 2011 (El Cajon)- Renovations are under way at Sycuan Casino http://www.sycuan.com/ . With a full design overhaul in process, the casino is scheduled to have every inch of the interior revamped by fall. The casino remains open to the public as Sycuan's design and architecture teams work in phases to renovate the casino gaming areas, create an all new non-smoking buffet, open a new sports bar & grill restaurant and install a one-of-a-kind specialty lighting fixture in the main lobby.
$5,000 Award Will Give Middle School Students Access to Laptop Computers
May 17, 2011 – Middle school students at Ramona Lutheran School are set to benefit from a $5,000 education grant awarded today by the Barona Band of Mission Indians. Assemblyman Brian Jones (R-Santee) joined Principal Donna Myers in accepting the grant that was presented to the school by Edwin “Thorpe” Romero, Chairman of the Barona Band of Mission Indians.
“Today’s teaching and learning process is being transformed by technology,” said Chairman Romero. “Barona is pleased to award this grant that will provide middle school students at Ramona Lutheran with access to computers. Our hope is to enrich their educational experience and help prepare them for high school.”
VIEJAS ROLLS OUT RED CARPET FOR GUESTS AT A ROYAL TEA
Wedding cake, visits from royal family look-alikes and replay of historic wedding on TV
April 22, 2011 (Alpine) – Viejas Casino vows to treat everyone like royalty as the world celebrates the historic wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton on April 29. The public is invited to a Royal Tea (and coffee) from 3-5 p.m. in the V Lounge at Viejas Casino.
April 14, 2011 (San Diego)--The San Diego County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) is working with San Diego American Indian Health Center (SDAIHC) to notify patients who were possibly exposed to tuberculosis (TB) at SDAIHC’s downtown location. The period of exposure was from Oct. 1, 2010 to April 1, 2011.
Trek draws national attention to impact of diet on diabetes
By Jeremy Los
Photos courtesy of the Viejas band of Kumeyaay Indians
February 15, 2011- Members of East County Native American tribes were among hundreds of people who took to the streets of La Jolla Shores yesterday morning to kick-off “Longest Walk III, Reversing Diabetes 2011,” a charitable walk from San Diego to Washington D.C.”
February 11, 2011 (Alpine) – “What’s my vision? Two words: nation building,” Anthony Pico, chairman of the Viejas band of Kumeyaay Indians, told tribal members and guests at a swearing-in ceremony yesterday for newly elected tribal council members. View a video of Chairman Pico speaking on his vision of nation building.
Two weeks ago, the Viejas tribal council unanimously approved the nation-building concept. In late February, council leaders will meet with representatives from the Harvard University John F. Kennedy School of Government to begin dialogue and create a two-day workshop on defining nation-building, Pico revealed.
February 4, 2011 (Alpine) – Chinese New Year kicked off at Viejas Casino yesterday with the opening of Emerald Asian Cuisine.
Owned and operated by San Diegan Mike Lee and his family, Emerald Asian Cuisine is known for its award-winning Chinese and Vietnamese dishes, including authentic pho, Vietnamese coffee, Banh Mi, and much more.
Deal gives players more ways to win in MEGA Millions plus Viejas to have 22,000 winners in February Lottery promotions; winnings help benefit public schools
By Miriam Raftery
January 31, 2011 – For the first time ever, the California State Lottery is teaming up with a casino to provide more winning opportunities for both Lottery players and Viejas Casino guests.
“We believe this agreement is the first of its kind in the nation between a state lottery and a casino,” Robert Scheid, public relations director at Viejas Casino & Outlets, announced at a press conference today in the Viejas Dreamcatcher Lounge.
“This partnership takes winning to a whole new level,” said California Lottery Spokesman Bill Ainsworth. “Viejas Casino is one of the best known names in gaming and entertainment in Southern California and we are proud and excited to partner with them.”
By Miriam Raftery
January 29, 2011 (Alpine) -- Elected officials, tribal leaders, community members and veterans turned out this morning at a “Labor of Love” event to break ground for Alpine’s Wall of Honor.
Viejas tribal chairman Anthony Pico spoke movingly about his own military service in the Army and his memories of visiting the Viet Nam memorial in Washington D.C., where 13 of his friends’ names are inscribed. “For every friend who has fallen, there is someone who will remember them,” he said, expressing sorrow that his fallen comrades could not live into the autumn of their lives but instead, sacrificed their futures for our country. “They stayed forever young in my mind,” he said.
California Welcome Center at Viejas Outlets to accept donated electronics to help families in need
January 5, 2011 (Alpine) – Viejas Outlet Center announces the opening of a computer and electronics drop-off center for Computers 2 SD Kids – a growing local not-for-profit that has refurbished more than 12,000 computers and provided them to needy families all across San Diego County.
Area residents can drop off e-waste at the California Welcome Center at Viejas Outlets on Saturday, January 8 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Volunteers will be on hand to accept all working and non-working electronic items including computers, TVs, radios, phones, cords, printers, hardware, used ink/toner cartridges and software. In exchange for your eWaste, you’ll receive a certificate for a free buffet at Viejas Casino.
Story and photos by Ariele Johannson
January 4, 2010 (Warner Springs)--For historic Warner Springs Ranch, time seems circular as its past echoes for a return. In keeping with a Native American trend to buy back ancestral land, the Pala Band of Mission Indians is purchasing its former homeland, Warner Springs Ranch.
6 BIG DESERT SOLAR PROJECTS GET UNWELCOME HOLIDAY SURPISE: NATIVE AMERICAN GROUP FILES SUIT AGAINST BLM FOR FAILURE TO CONSENT
December 28, 2010 (Blythe, CA)-- La Cuna de Aztlan Sacred Sites Protection Circle, a Native American cultural protection group, filed a lawsuit yesterday in the U.S. District Court, Southern District of California, challenging the Bureau of Land Management permitting processes regarding six large solar facilities planned for the Mohave, Sonoran and Colorado deserts of Southern California (Case No.10CV2664 WQH WVG), including an Imperial Valley Solar project slated to hook up to SDG&E’s Sunrise Powerlink.
New tribal council also elected
December 21, 2010 (Alpine)—Anthony Pico has been elected chairman of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, replacing Bobby Barrett, who served five terms and chose not to run for reelection. Pico previously served as chairman for three terms and vice chairman for two terms, a total of more than two decades of leadership.
“Under his stewardship and vision, the Viejas Band achieved national and state recognition for its economic and social progress,” California Indian Education’s website states. During his prior tenure as Chairman, Viejas proved a leader in promoting inter-tribal business ventures as well as economic development for the tribe locally.
Local representatives split on votes
By Miriam Raftery
December 4, 2010 (San Diego’s East County)—By a 256-152 vote, the House of Representatives has approved the Claims Settlement Act of 2010, which will provide $3.4 billion to settle a lawsuit which alleged federal mismanagement and loss of billions of dollars in trust funds for Indian tribes and individual Native Americans. Arizona Senator John McCain, former chair of the Senate committee on Indian Affairs, has called the government’s mismanagement “theft from Indian people” and declared that Native Americans are “rightfully owed the money.”
Although the measure had bipartisan support, among San Diego’s Congressional representatives, Republicans Duncan Hunter and Brian Bilbray voted against the settlement. Democrats Susan Davis and Bob Filner voted for it, while Republican Darrell Issa did not vote.
November 18, 2010 (San Diego) – The San Diego Women's History Museum will present a film showing on the life of Kumeyaay elder Anna Prieto Sandoval this Saturday, November 20th from noon to 4 p.m. Sandoval, the first woman chair of the Sycuan tribe, helped lead her people from poverty to prosperity and was instrumental in bringing Indian gaming to the reservation. She was inducted into the San Diego Women’s History Hall of Fame earlier this year. ECM has previously profiled the accomplishments of Sandoval, who died October 28th at age 76.
VIEJAS, PADRE WATER AND NATIVE HERITAGE COMMISSION AGREE TO FURTHER CULTURAL ASSESSMENT AT SACRED SITE
November 17, 2010 (Alpine) – The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and Padre Dam Municipal Water District today announced an agreement to conduct further tribal cultural resource investigations at a proposed development site which has been declared a sanctified Native American burial ground and ceremonial site.
TRIBE SUES TO BLOCK DESERT SOLAR PROJECT; PROTESTERS GATHER IN OCOTILLO TO OPPOSE ONE OF WORLD'S LARGEST SOLAR PROJECTS
Environmentalists, desert enthusiasts and East County organizations also object to Tessera’s 10-mile-long, 6,000-acre desert solar farm which would tie in to Sunrise Powerlink
By Miriam Raftery
November 17, 2010 (Ocotillo) – “To me, it is a genocide of our tribal ways and culture,” Preston J. Arrow-Weed, a member of the Quechan Native American tribe, told East County Magazine. Gazing out at the Coyote Mountains on ancestral land he considers sacred, he asked, “All this electricity and who gets it? Not us.”
The Quechan Indians filed a lawsuit October 29th against the U.S. Department of Interior seeking to halt the project. On November 15 and 16, a coalition of Indians, environmentalists and desert enthusiasts staged protests at two solar desert sites. In Ocotillo, dozens of protesters hoped to draw public attention to the project’s impacts on the desert ecosytem, cultural resources and a national historic trail.
Sandoval helped lead tribe from poverty to prosperity
“Our people need to understand the importance of honoring our ancestors and our traditions and to never forget the hardship and depravation our people went through to get where we are today.” –Anna Prieto Sandoval
By Miriam Raftery
November 7, 2010 (El Cajon)—Anna Prieto Sandoval, 76, former chairman of the Sycuan band of the Kumeyaay Nation, died October 28 at her home on the Sycuan reservation from complications of diabetes. She served as Sycuan’s elected chairman from 1972 to 1990 and was a leading voice in bringing Indian gaming to the reservation, helping to create one of the most successful Indian gaming establishments in the nation. Also a historian who advocated for preservation of native traditions, she was inducted into the San Diego Women’s Hall of Fame in March 2010.
San Diego Business Wire
November 4, 2010 (San Diego)--Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians announced that its in-house legal team has received recognition for outstanding representation of the Viejas tribal government and its business interests.
Top Awards Include Best Overall Casino, Luckiest, Best Blackjack
October 12, 2010 (Lakeside) – Barona Resort & Casino has once again been ranked as the best overall casino in San Diego in the 2010 Best of Southern California Gaming Reader's Choice Awards. The results are featured in the October issue of the Southern California Gaming Guide, which include 18 honors and 11 first place wins for Barona, more than any other casino.
Opening kicks off October’s $250,000 “BONE-ANZA” promotion
October 11, 2010 (Alpine) – Viejas Casino, southern California’s premier gaming and entertainment destination has unveiled a new, expanded V Club booth designed to enhance guest service. The new V Club booth is centrally located near the south entrance and the table games area, and features seven windows for more efficient service so guests will spend less time in line. It also has a special window to accommodate guests with special needs.
September 29, 2010 (Sacramento) – Four San Diego County tribal leaders were presented honors by the California Justice Department’s Office of Native Affairs in Sacramento last week during the 43rd Annual Native American Day.
Local honorees were the Honorable Anthony Brandenburg, Chief Judge of the Intertribal Court of Southern California; Bo Mazzetti, Chairman of the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians; Daniel Tucker, Chairman of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation; and Bill Denke, Chief of Police, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.
Carlton Hills Elementary School receives $5,000 grant; State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell joins tribal leaders at presentation
By Miriam Raftery
September 22, 2010 (Santee) – “Education is the foundation of our future. I urge you to get as much of it as you can,” Barona tribal chairman Edwin “Thorpe” Romero told schoolchildren at Carlton Hills Elementary School in Santee this morning. “My tribe, the Barona band of Mission Indians, and I are thankful that we are able to support your school.”
Romero presented principal Terry Heck with a check for $5,000 – surpassing the one million dollar mark for the Barona Education Grant program statewide.
By Miriam Raftery
September 12, 2010 (Sycuan) – Tina Santiago, a member of the Conshatta tribe from Louisiana, weaves a basket of willow reeds while onlookers browse her wares at the Sycuan Pow-Wow in El Cajon. “It takes about 25 hours to make this basket,” she said of a finely-crafted, finished basket priced at $250.
Other vendors offered hand-made items to suit more modest budgets, such as malachite earrings for $10. I found a spectacular turquoise and purple gemstone necklace for $40, picked up unique gifts for family members, and also enjoyed watching dazzling dance competitions.
September 9, 2010 (El Cajon) – Native American dancers, drummers, and bird singers from across the nation will convene at the Sycuan reservation this weekend for the 21st annual Sycuan Pow-Wow. The three-day event (September 10, 11 and 12) will also feature Indian foods, Native American arts and crafts, and informational booths. The pow-wow is free and open to the public.
By Miriam Raftery
September 5, 2010 (Lakeside) –At Barona’s 40th annual powwow, Barona tribal member and community leader Bonnie La Chappa grilled tortillas at her family’s campsite in preparation for a family feast.
“Every powwow takes on its own culture, depending on the reservation,” she said. “For me, it’s a social gathering—everyone coming together. The dancers come here once a year from everywhere,” including relatives from as far away as Oklahoma, she noted. “It’s about renewing old friendships and making new friends.”
The Powwow continues today and tonight, with a grand procession at 7 p.m., dance competitions, Native American jewelery, arts and crafts, and more.
September 3, 2010 (Lakeside) – The public is invited to attend the 40th annual Barona PowWow. The event, which has free admission, will be held September 3-5 at the Barona Baseball Field. More than $60,000 in prize money will be awarded in Native American dance competitions. The powwow, which attracts competitors from all over North America, also features vendors selling Native American arts, crafts, and jewelry.