December 13, 2012 (San Diego)– As an air of excitement and anticipation hung over the 37th Annual Stoney & Rob’s Holiday Party and Fundraiser, the curtain was raised on the stage of the DreamCatcher at Viejas Casino last week to reveal more than 7,000 toys that will go to needy families in the area. The exact number this year was 7,217—more than twice the 3,000 gifts raised last year by Team Members and guests at Viejas Casino and Outlets.
November 29, 2012 (El Cajon) – A Native Plant Garden Tour will take place in the Water Conservation Garden at Cuyamaca College, 12122 Cuyamaca College Dr. West, El Cajon on December 1 at 10:30 a.m. The Native Plant tour, guided by Garden Docent, Jan Tubiolo, explores the lifestyle of the Kumeyaay Indians in southern California and the tremendous role native plants played in every aspect of their lives.
November 29, 2012 (La Mesa) – Viejas firefighters, clad in uniforms, Santa hats and reindeer antlers, rolled into action at Target in Grossmont Center today to stock up on toys for needy local children. More than 80 Viejas tribal government staffers donated funds to purchase 30 bicycles.
“We’re here because we want to bring a little bit of joy to some kids who may need that,” Viejas Tribal Chairman Anthony Pico told ECM. “We know what it’s like to be poverty stricken and perhaps to have Christmas with no gift. It means so much more when you know where you’ve come from and where you’re going.” He smiled, adding with a Santa-like twinkle in his eye, “These are some of the most fun times of the year.”
November 20, 2012 (Alpine) --Viejas tribal leaders, casino executives, civic and community leaders, and guests came together for an outdoor Topping Off Ceremony on Wednesday, November 13, 2012. More than 100 people assembled in front of the new five-story Viejas Hotel, amid the noise of hammers, drills, and construction workers’ shouts.
This month, the much-anticipated Viejas Hotel enters its final construction stages. The non-smoking Viejas Hotel with valet parking is scheduled to open in the spring of 2013. Viejas Casino, owned by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, is one of the most successful tribal casinos in California.
November 12, 2012 (Boulevard)—At the latest Boulevard Planning Group meeting, community members including Native Americans shared heart-wrenching stories of how the nation's quest for renewable energy is upending their lives, dividing their communities,imperiling their health, and threatening their futures.
As in Ocotillo, where a wind project has anguished tribal members and residents with destruction of cultural and environmental resources, the community of Boulevard now faces an onslaught of massive "green" energy projects on public, tribal and private lands.
Tule Wind project’s turbines on ridgelines will be “deadly” for Golden eagles in San Diego County, wildlife biologist predicts
October 29, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – Wildlife biologist Jim Wiegand, vice president of Save the Eagles International, has sent a letter to Bureau of Indian Affairs’ regional director Amy Dutsche warning that the Tule Wind project will be “deadly” for eagles in our region.
October 22, 2012 (Alpine) – A U.S. Navy veteran planning to retire soon hit a jackpot worth $501,430.49 on a Wheel of Fortune slot machine at Viejas Casino.
The winner, who is from San Diego, chose to remain anonymous. He hit the early-retirement jackpot while playing a $1 Wheel of Fortune progressive slot machine on Saturday morning, October 13, at Viejas Casino.
JPA is first in California involving a Native American tribe
By Miriam Raftery
October 18, 2012 (El Cajon ) – The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians and Heartland Fire Training Authority this week announced that they have entered into a historic Joint Powers Agreement (JPA).
“This JPA finally allows Viejas to have a seat at the table and have a full and meaningful partnership with other fire agencies that we’ve worked with for years in a very productive way,” said Viejas Fire Chief Don Butz. “Ultimately, this benefits the entire region, since wildfires and other natural disasters do not recognize geographic, political or other borders. We are all stronger and better protected when we work and train together.”
October 14, 2012 (Pala) – A coalition fighting to stop out-of-town investors from developing a garbage dump in Gregory Canyon near Pala will rally at the Pala Rey Youth Camp on Saturday, October 20 from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. on October 20. Robert Smith, Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians and Shasta Gaughen, EPA Director of the Pala Indians will be among the speakers and honored guests. The event will also feature traditional bird singing to protect Gregory Canyon as well as information on the fight to save the sacred mountain, which includes rock paintings and a medicine rock.
BLM Begins Rio Mesa Project EIS Process to Strong Opposition Over Desert Solar Siting
Story and photo by Robert Lundahl
September 17, 2012 (Blythe, California)--The Bureau of Land Management scoping meeting for the Rio Mesa Solar Plant outside Blythe, California likely caused heartburn for the BLM, applicant Brightsource, and related subcontractors and agencies last Thursday.
September 21, 2012 (San Diego’s East County) – A new documentary directed by Robert Lundahl provides an unprecedented look at how fast-tracking of federal energy projects is having devastating impacts on Native American cultural sites, destroying sacred landscapes and geoglyphs thousands of years old. View film trailer: http://planet-rla.com/who-are-my-people-film-trailer/
The film has enjoyed the support of Native American elders, including Sr. Alfredo Figueroa (Yaqui/Chemehuevi), Rev. Ron Van Fleet (Mohave), Phil Smith (Chemehuevi), and Preston Arrow-Weed (Kumeyaay/Quechan), who appear in the film.
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).