September 17, 2012 (Alpine) –What could be more heavenly than a day at Alpine’s new spa for a stressed-out news editor and her assistant? With high hopes, Mayan and I headed out to Native Dreams Day Spa in the Viejas Outlet Center, where our expectations were met and exceeded by the excellent services and products as we savored an afternoon of pampering and primping.
September 19, 2012 (Alpine) – Viejas Casino, Southern California’s premier gaming, dining and entertainment destination, on September 14, set a new Guinness Record for the World’s Largest Blackjack Table.
The record was set at 9:45 a.m. September 13, as six guests sat at a massive blackjack table measuring just over 2,226 square feet and played a hand of blackjack with chips and cards that were ten times the size of the actual Viejas blackjack chips and cards. Philip Robertson, an official “Adjudicator” for Guinness was on hand to confirm the measurements and witness the hand of blackjack…and the new record was officially certified amid a rousing round of cheers and applause from Viejas Team Members and guests in the DreamCatcher at Viejas Casino.
September 12, 2012 (El Cajon) – The Heritage of the Americas Museum presents “Native American Song Cycles and Creation Stories in Southern California” with Steve Elster, Ph.D. on September 22 at 1:00 p.m. in the Museum Conference Room. Tribal members throughout the region will sing and speak as they give a rendition of their stories.
The cost of admission is $5.00, however Museum members and children are free. The Museum is located at 12110 Cuyamaca College Drive West, El Cajon. For more information call the museum at 619-670-5194 or visit www.cuyamaca.edu/museum.
September 12, 2012 (Viejas)– Viejas Casino, Southern California’s premier gaming, dining and entertainment destination, will attempt to set a new Guinness Record for the World’s Largest Blackjack Table on September 13 – Viejas Casino’s 21st Anniversary.
August 24, 2012 (El Cajon)—Native Americans from across the nation will convene September 7 -9 at the Sycuan reservation for the 23rd annual Sycuan Pow-wow.
More than $125,000 in prize money will be awarded for top participants in bird singing and dancing and a drum/singing contest.Native American arts and crafts will be available for purchase, as well as food.The event, which is free and open to the public, is an opportunity to learn more about Native American culture and heritage.
Next up, Sycuan pow-wow slated for 2nd weekend in September
By Janis Mork
September 3, 2012 (Lakeside)- Despite scorching heat at the Barona baseball field, the annual powwow continued on from August 31-September 2. There were booths with food, hand crafted jewelry, contests for dancing, singing, and a drum contest. Over $60,000 in prize money was up for grabs.
Emcee Tom Phillips led the festivities, announcing the gourd dancing that took place on Saturday and Sunday afternoon, as well as all three evenings, and a grand entry took place nightly.
August 30, 2012 (Lakeside) – The Barona Band of Mission Indians will celebrate Native American culture and traditions at the 42nd annual Barona Powwow this weekend. The festivities begin on August 31 from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and continue on September 1 & 2 from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Barona Baseball Field, 1095 Barona Road, Lakeside.
Since its inception in 1970, the tribal celebration has grown into a 3 day event featuring traditional tribal dances, singing and music, a hand drum contest, authentic Native American food and handcrafted arts and jewelry. More than 200 dancers from across the country will compete for more than $60,000 in cash prizes.
Tribal representatives say Interior Dept.is not sincere about resolving concerns over sacred site desecrations by renewable energy projects on public lands
By Miriam Raftery
August 21, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—Why did the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) host the first in a series of five “listening sessions” with Native American leaders ostensibly to address tribal concerns over impacts of renewable energy projects on public lands—yet didn’t bother to take notes or record the sessions?
Why are no listening sessions scheduled in California or anywhere near our state, where some of the most controversial renewable energy projects are being built atop the graveyards of Native Americans’ ancestors?
August 11, 2012 (Sacramento, CA) – Tribal government gaming generates important benefits across California’s economy, according to a new study conducted by Beacon Economics, a leading independent economic research firm.
July 19, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – After forensic dog teams identified dozens of potential ancient human remain sites at energy projects on Bureau of Land Management property in Ocotillo and McCain Valley, as ECM reported this week, ECM asked the BLM what steps it intends to take to assure that any Native American remains are protected.
Two officials from the BLM have responded to our inquiry.
Canines identify dozens of sites in path of wind and power line projects
Wind developers “cooperate” with tribes on searches-- but SDG&E refuses to allow dogs on its ECO-Substation site
Story by Miriam Raftery
Photos by Tom and Nadin Abbott, Miriam Raftery, and Jim Pelley
July 18, 2012 (McCain Valley) – Weaving across cactus-studded terrain in McCain Valley, Piper, a border collie trained to find ancient human remains, pauses to sniff the ground.Ears erect, he sits, alerting handler Lynne Engelbert, who records the GPS coordinates. (Click video to view.)Minutes later, Piper’s find is independently confirmed by a second search dog.
Bill would also ban public from accessing environmental impacts of tribal projects
By Miriam Raftery
July 5, 2012 (Washington D.C.) –The Native American Energy Act, HR 3973, has been approved by the House Natural Resources Committee. The bill, which seeks to remove “bureaucratic obstacles” to energy production on tribal lands, would also severely impede residents, environmentalists or even neighboring tribes who file lawsuits to stop tribal energy projects.
July 4, 2012 (Santa Ysabel) -- An official of the Santa Ysabel Resort and Casino announced that the facility will continue to operate as usual while it seeks to restructure its debt under Chapter 11 of federal bankruptcy law.
The tribeʼs attorneys filed the petition yesterday in federal bankruptcy court Southern District of California.
June 24, 2012 -- A sliver of moon and a spangle of stars shone down on the Ocotillo desert last night, where representatives from eight tribal nations joined in ceremonies to honor their ancestors. Hundreds of people from across the southwestern U.S. came to mourn the desecration of Native American sacred lands, cremation sites and the natural environment that is now occurring on public land.
As twilight melted into darkness across the shifting sands and jagged ridgelines, the night’s silence was broken only by the whistling of the wind and the cadence of ancient Native American songs unchanged for the past 10,000 years. But that way of life—and the peaceful presence of this place--may soon be gone forever.
East County Magazine to form carpools from San Diego to desert vigil June 23-24
By Miriam Raftery
June 13, 2012 (Ocotillo) – As bulldozers raze their ancestors’ graves, Native American tribes across the southwest are asking for the public’s help to stop the desecration.
If you believe this heartbreak funded by taxpayer dollars is wrong, please join with tribes of all nations to take a spiritual stand together against despoilment of these once protected desert lands for private corporate gain.
Determined to halt the Pattern Energy's Ocotillo Express wind energy project, tribes of all nations will gather for a traditional dusk-to-dawn ceremony to mourn disruption of their ancestors' burial sites. From 7 p.m. on Saturday, June 23 to dawn on Sunday, June 24, members of the public are encouraged to join with Native American neighbors in the Ocotillo desert for these spiritual ceremonies.
June 8, 2012 (Alpine) – Looking for something fun, free and cool for the kids to do this summer? Your child or teen can receive a free bowling game each week-day this summer, along with bowling shoes, in Viejas Bowl’s new “Say Yes to Bowling” program. The fun starts in June and continues on through August.
“The snake was moved but kept coming back, just like our people.We will continue to keep coming back.” – Preston Arrowweed, Quechan elder. He believes unusual animal visitations at site are signs from Indian spirits, asking his people to help.
By Miriam Raftery
Jim Pelley, Denee ‘Estevane’ Woolley, and Susan Massey also contributed to this report
June 7, 2012 (Ocotillo)—Neither blistering heat nor blowing dust dissuaded Native Americans from at least four tribes from taking part in a five-day occupation in Ocotillo last week.
They came to be with the spirits of their ancestors. They also aim to show that desert devastation occurring with construction of the Ocotillo Express wind facility is wrong and must be stopped.
May 29, 2012 (Santa Ysabel) – The National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), the federal agency charged with oversight of gaming on Indian lands, has warned the County of San Diego that its recent debt collection effort against the Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel could violate the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA).
May 26, 2012 (El Cajon) -- More than 2,300 students will be receiving their degrees or certificates from East County’s two community colleges at month’s end, capping a year marked by the state’s ongoing budget crisis.
Cuyamaca College will honor 695 students receiving associate degrees and certificates of achievement Wednesday, May 30, at the 34th annual commencement at the college’s student center quad. On Thursday, May 31, Grossmont College will laud 1,664 students receiving their degrees and certificates at the college’s 51st commencement at the main quad. The ceremonies are scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m.
May 25, 2012 (Lakeside)– Celebrating 10 years of service to the Tribal communities of Southern California, Inter Tribal Sports (ITS) ambassadors Bill Walton (NBA Hall of Fame) and Lorenzo Neal (NFL All-Pro) invite San Diegans to join former San Diego Charger Hank Bauer at the NeXt Generations Gala and Golf Tournament at Barona Creek Golf Course in Lakeside on June 29.
“Asone of the first called to the table at Buffet at Viejas, I wish to say, ‘Thank you for a memorable feast. It was delightful.’”—Ariele Johannson
by Ariele Johannson
May 23, 2012 (Alpine)--The new Buffet at Viejas had its grand opening on Tuesday morning. The fanfare included a tribal blessing from Kumeyaay elder Virginia Christman and traditional bird songs led by tribal member John Christman. Viejas Tribal Vice Chairman, Robert “Cita” Welch, addressed a crowd of tribal elders, leaders, local dignitaries, Chamber of Commerce representatives, public and the press during a ribbon-cutting ceremony. With the smell of sage in the air being prepared for the smudging, he called the new buffet at Viejas among the best in the San Diego area.
May 18, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) sharply criticized HR 4970, which passed the U.S. House of Representatives by a narrow 222-205 vote. The House version of the Violence Against Women Act contained amendments that weaken protections for domestic violence victims on tribal lands, as well as for immigrant and gay women.
May 18, 2012 (San Diego) -- This month’s cover story of Indian Voices features local tribal representatives welcoming spiritual leader and peace activist, the Dalai Lama, at San Diego State University. To view this story and the rest of the May issue, click here.
“This is nothing more than a public land grab for private profit. The BLM is literally giving this away to corporations…This may be out in the desert today, but tomorrow it could be in your backyard…Already over a dozen projects are proposed in San Diego and Imperial County.” – Robert Scheid, Viejas media relations
May 16, 2012 (La Jolla) – At a press conference yesterday outside the gleaming corporate towers occupied by Pattern Energy in La Jolla, a coalition of environmental groups, Native American tribes and outraged citizens urged President Barack Obama to stop fast-tracking of massive energy projects on public lands and halt construction at the Ocotillo Express wind facility immediately.
Heavy equipment has begun grading the site, ripping massive ocotillo cacti out by the roots, burying burrowing owl nesting sites and breaking hearts of the many people who love this desert land.
ECM contacted the White House to request an interview with President Obama. No response has been received.
May 7, 2012 (Santa Ysabel)-- The Iipay Nation of the Santa Ysabel Tribe is holding its ground against San Diego County demands for a $3 million arbitration settlement. The tribe states that the county projections were unrealistic and fundamentally flawed. The Santa Ysabel Tribe affirms the casino is willing to pay a fair settlement within its actual, not projected, situation.
April 28, 2012(Alpine)– A retired firefighter from Scripps Ranch is $744,553 richer after taking a detour to Viejas Casino while on an errand in Alpine. Lloyd S. came to Alpine on April 23 to get his motorhome painted. When he discovered the shop was closed, he decided to make a quick detour to Viejas Casino. After just four spins on the popular Wheel of Fortune progressive slot machine, Lloyd hit it big with a jackpot totaling $744,553.18!
April 27, 2012 (Alpine) – The Southern Indian Health Council, Inc. will be holding its 6th annual Spring Gathering on April 28 at 4058 Willows Road, Alpine from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.The event is to raise public awareness for sexual assault, child abuse and supervised visitation.
April 26, 2012 (Ocotillo) – A former firefighter who has parachuted into raging wildfires, Viejas Community Relations Director Charlie Brown (photo, left above) has no shortage of courage.But he choked back tears as he spoke about what Ocotillo and its ancient geoglyphs means to him and other tribes that have long considered the site sacred.
Brown has heard stories from his grandfather, who lived to be 109, about Ocotillo--where mountains are named in tribal creation stories. He has taken his own son there to learn about his heritage. One giant geoglyph is registered on the National Registry of Historic Places. Tribes across the southwest convene here for sacred ceremonies.
But soon, Brown fears, the sound of turbines atop his ancestors’ graves will “be like beating on somebody’s soul…sacrificing something that’s been there for 10,000 years.”http://youtu.be/FbPmplN2UDA.