November 24, 2013 (San Diego’s East County ) – Earlier this year, we covered Robert Lundahl’s powerful documentary about threats to ancient, large-scale Native American geoglyphs—sacred sites that stand in the way of massive energy projects.
Now an online petition implores President Barack Obama and U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell to stop the destruction of these sacred sites near Blythe, California along the Colorado River. A related spoke wheel geoglyph in Ocotillo was also at risk and now stands surrounded by wind turbines. But now an ancient Kokopillo is at risk of being destroyed completely.
November is the 2013 American Indian heritage month and Union Bank and KPBS have honored two very special Native American women with Local Heroes awards: Jane Dumas, an elder with the Jamul band of Kumeyaay Indians, and San Diego State University's Rose Margaret Orrantia.
To hear our exclusive interview with Sycuan Chairman Daniel Tucker, click here.
By Miriam Raftery
November 14, 2013 (El Cajon ) – History books in California schools teach a view of our past that focuses on Spanish missionaries , conquistadors and other Europeans while omitting the Kumeyaay Native American people who had lived here for thousands of generations before the first settlers came. A new documentary produced by the Sycuan band of the Kumeyaay nation aims to change that.
Our People, Our Culture, Our History premiered this week and will be distributed to local schools. The film reveals a side of San Diego history that most area residents have never been taught—the exploitation and near extermination of the Kumeyaay people. This powerful film also documents a triumph of the human spirit, detailing the Sycuan band’s struggle to survive and thrive as a new generation rediscovers a heritage nearly lost.
Production Details Kumeyaay History and Sycuan’s Evolution in the Region
November 6, 2013 (El Cajon)-- On Friday morning, Sycuan will debut a historical documentary that chronicles its 12,000-year existence in the present-day San Diego/Northern Baja region. It’s taken 16 months to produce and features local Native American anthropologists, historians and curators who help weave and trace the Kumeyaay ancestry. It also contains biographical accounts that make it an even more compelling and thought provoking piece.
“It really shows our history from a perspective that most people have never heard of, it goes beyond anything in textbooks and accounts ever written or told about the Kumeyaay and Sycuan,” said Daniel Tucker, Chairman of the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation.
November 5, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – A first-time visitor to Viejas Casino & Resort hit a whopping $58,221.78 jackpot after playing for just six minutes on a penny slot machine.
The lucky winner, from Whittier, California, was visiting a friend from El Cajon, who is a frequent guest at Viejas Casino & Resort. After enjoying the Buffet at Viejas on October 26, the El Cajon friend hit the casino floor for some table games play, and the visitor decided to try her luck on the Cash Multi-Spin penny slot machine. And after just six minutes of play, she hit the jackpot, according to Viejas.
November 6, 2013 (El Cajon) — Actor Saginaw Grant, a Sac and Fox Indian who has played numerous Native American roles in the movies and on television, said at a Student Veteran Organization event at Grossmont College on Monday, Nov. 4. that every combat veteran comes home with hidden wounds caused by the things they saw or did. However, he said, it’s important that they banish negative thoughts from their minds: “You can’t change those things by thinking about them.”
Grant, who had served in the Marine Corps during the Korean Conflict, said even after separating from the military service, veterans should continue to honor the proud military traditions that have been passed down for generations. Likewise, Grant, who appeared in the 2013 movie The Lone Ranger as the Comanche Chief Big Bear, said that his Indian people should carefully listen and then honor the lessons that have been transmitted for eons in their oral traditions.
October 24, 2013 (Alpine) -- Viejas Casino & Resort has launched its annual Holiday Toy Drive to support the local Salvation Army. With the help of Viejas Team Members and guests, the goal is to provide 10,000 toys to deserving families in San Diego and Imperial Counties. That’s up from a target of 5,000 toys last year.
October 18, 2013 (San Diego’s East County) – Residents in Jamul are voicing concerns over a repaving project along State Route 94 that is causing dangerous conditions and delays of up to a half hour. Multiple sources have advised ECM that no warning signs are posting to warn motorists that traffic has been reduced to one lane. The delays are projected to continue through January.
Kim Hamilton, editor of the Deerhorn Valley Antler, says the current situation may be just a precursor of traffic congestion that could occur if a proposed casino at the Jamul Indian Casino is built. Already, State Route 94 has a fatality rate per mile that is nearly six times the countywide average—before any casino is built.
Labor and business groups voice support for casino jobs; residents ask why community was excluded from meetings with Governor's staff, including a site visit
By Miriam Raftery
October 12, 2013 (Jamul) – A senior advisor to Governor Jerry Brown, Jacob Appelmith, has confirmed in a letter to Jamul Indian Village Tribal Chairman Raymond Hunter that the tribe has met requirements of the Tribal-State Gaming compact for a proposed casino on Highway 94 in Jamul. “As you are aware, the State supports the Tribe’s efforts to mitigate any and all of the significant off-Reservation impacts,” the letter continued.
Sports: The Competitive Spirit at Barona is Now Open to the Public
Photo: Vice Chairman Harold Hill, Curator Cheryl Hinton, and Brian VanWanseele, Barona Tribal member and President of the Board of Directors for Inter Tribal Sports
October 8, 2013 (Lakeside) – To celebrate the history of sports on the Barona Indian Reservation, the Barona Cultural Center & Museum recently opened a new exhibition entitled Sports: The Competitive Spirit at Barona. The exhibit, on display this October through 2014, features Native American sports heroes from around the country as well as from the Barona Indian Reservation. Admission is free.
September 30, 2013 (Lakeside) -- A world-famous gambler and poker player known for the largest and longest documented winning streak in gambling history has been charged in a card-marking scheme at Barona Casino, the District Attorney’s Office announced. He reportedly cheated the casino out of more than $8,000.
Anargyros Karabourniotis, 62, also known as ‘Archie Karas,’ was caught, by the Barona Gaming Commission, marking cards at the casino’s blackjack table in Lakeside back in July, the DA’s Office said. He was arrested at his Las Vegas home on Tuesday and will be extradited to San Diego to face charges of burglary, winning by fraudulent means and cheating.
“This defendant’s luck ran out thanks to extraordinary cooperation between several different law enforcement agencies who worked together to investigate and prosecute this case,” said District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.
September 19,2013 (Alpine)—Friday the 13th proved lucky at Viejas Casino & Resort, where three Guinness world records were set on September 13 th in celebration of the casino’s 22nd anniversary.
“It’s a challenge, a difficult,” Guinness Book of World Records adjudicator Philip Roberts said after Viejas employees and guests teamed up to open 639 bottles of wine simultaneously. This broke the old record set in Las Vegas of 474.
Those gathered went to set another world record for most people giving high fives in one place: 684. The former record (405) was held by the United Arab Emirates, Roberts announced as the crowd cheered.
Concerns remain among residents over traffic impacts from proposed casino at Jamul Indian Village
September 12, 2013 (Jamul) – The Jamul/Dulzura Community Planning Gorup has received a Notice of Preparation of a Draft Environmental Impact Report for roadway improvements to Highway 94. These would include widening of the highway to provide access to the Jamul Indian Reservation, where a casino is proposed, as well as improvements to intersections of Highway 94 and Jamacha Boulevard, Jamacha Road, Steel Canyon Road, Lyons Valley Road, and Maxfield Road. deerhornvalley.net/CaltransNOP.pdf
“These improvements would be necessary to help handle the 10,000 extra casino-bound vehicles daily,” Deerhorn Valley Antler editor Kim Hamilton said in an e-mail.
Cal Trans will hold a meeting on Tuesday, September 17 from 5-8 p.m. at Cottonwood Golf Club, 3121 Willow Glen Drive in EL Cajon.
September 5, 2013 (Alpine) – To celebrate its 22nd anniversary, Viejas Casino and Resort is aiming to break two Guiness World Records on September 13—playing blackjack with the world’s largest deck of cards and later, opening the most bottles of wine at one time.
September 6, 2013 (El Cajon) – The 24th Annual Sycuan Pow-Wow will be held September 13 – 15 at the Sycuan Reservation, 5459 Sycuan Road, El Cajon. The Pow-Wow will begin on Friday evening with Gourd Dancing at 7 p.m., followed by the Grand Entry at 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday the Gourd Dancing will begin at 1 p.m with a Grand Entry at 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. on Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
August 21, 2013 (Pala) -- The Pala Band of Mission Indians will hold its sixth annual “Honoring Traditions” Powwow August 23-25 at the Pala Rey Youth Camp, 10779 Highway 76, Pala. The Grand Entry will take place 8 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Saturday and 1 p.m. on Sunday. This event is free and open to the public.
Activities include powwow dance contests, bird singing, an exhibition of “shinny” - a traditional Native American ball game, a homemade bow and arrow contest and a peon tournament. All ages are welcome to participate and the prizes range from $50 to $1,000. Eight invited performers will also compete in a drum contest for a grand prize of $12,000.
August 20, 2013 (Lakeside) – The 43rd Annual Barona Powwow will be held August 30 through September 1 at Barona Baseball Field, on the Barona Indian Reservation in Lakeside. The Powwow begins on Friday at 6 p.m. with Gourd Dancing followed by the Grand Entry at 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday will feature Gourd Dancing at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. and the Grand Entry at 7 p.m. each day.
July 23, 2013 (San Diego's East County) -- After nearly a decade of wrangling between the State of California and Caltrans, Old Town State Park is set to be expanded and revitalized with approval of the new California state budget, which includes $436,000 in bond money allocated to demolish the old Caltrans building on Taylor Street. Most significantly, the abandoned 115,735 square foot Caltrans building sits on top of an ancient Kumeyaay village which allegedly dates back to 500 AD, and which was once a thriving Mexican settlement.
On July 27, the United Indian Tribal Youth Council (U.N.I.T.Y.) is hosting an electronics recycling event in Alpine. You can bring your old computers, laptops, TVs, monitors or anything else electronic to recycle free of charge. That includes everything that plugs in or that is battery operated.
The event takes place at the Viejas Recreation Center, 1B Viejas Grade Road in Alpine on Saturday, July 27 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
July 12, 2013 (Lakeside) -- The Lakeside Chamber of Commerce has named Bonnie LaChappa as the 2013 Lakeside Citizen of the Year with their Harry J. Spence Award. Bonnie, a lifelong Lakeside resident and an elected member of the Barona Band of Mission Indians Tribal Council, is well known for her tireless volunteerism in the East County community.
“Giving back and sharing have always been a big part of our Barona Tribal culture,” said Clifford LaChappa, Chairman of the Barona Band of Mission Indians. “We are very proud of everything Councilwoman LaChappa has done in the community to earn this meaningful award.”
June 30, 2013 (Sacramento) – A measure to require that developers consult with Native American tribes before initiating projects that affect tribal sacred sites and cultural resources has unanimously passed the state Assembly by a 56-0 vote. The bill now heads to the State Senate.
The approval of AB 52, authored by Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), came despite opposition from the California Chamber of Commerce, which called the measure a “job killer.”
The bill strengthens consultation standards with tribes under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), including impacts to tribal sites among the environmental impacts that must be weighed. But the bill also contains a provision that could allow tribal concerns to be ignored if any one of a list of other benefits is found to outweigh tribal concerns.
“You can’t have ‘green’ without social justice.” – filmmaker Robert Lundahl
June 20, 2013 (San Diego)--EMMY® Award winning filmmaker Robert Lundahl takes a hard look at U.S. energy policy and its effects on desert ecosystems, Native American tribes and communities across the West. The film has special relevance locally, where major energy projects in San Diego and Imperial Counties have sparked legal actions as tribal members seek to protect their heritage and sacred sites from destruction.
The filmmaker and Native American elders from California, Nevada & Arizona will be present at the premier of “Who Are My People?” The San Diego premier is a special presentation by Activist San Diego on Saturday evening, June 22, 7:00-9:00 p.m. at. Joyce Beers Uptown Community Center, 3900 Vermont Street, San Diego, 92103.
June 15, 2013 (San Diego) – The world premiere of the documentary film “Who are My People?”, presented by the Activist San Diego, will be June 22, 7:00 – 9:00 p.m. at Joyce Beers Uptown Community Center, 3900 Vermont Street, San Diego. The film created by Robert Lundahl is about the environmental struggles, indigenous lands and native peoples. Lundahl and several tribal elders and leaders will attend the premier.
June 7, 2013—(Jamul) A full house of 600 Jamul residents came to a meeting on June 5 to hear a presentation by Penn International Representatives, the latest company engaged by the Jamul Indian Village hoping to build a gaming facility for the Jamul Indian Village, part of the Kumeyaay Nation.
The project has generated widespread community opposition, pitting Native American sovereign rights and economic prosperity against concerns of neighbors over traffic, fire, and rural community character. All but one of the residents who testified opposed the project, despite efforts by the tribe to sharply scale back its original proposal.
June 6, 2013 (Campo) – On Sunday, June 9, the Campo Band of Mission Indians’ general council ( tribal members age 18 and over) will be asked to vote on whether to approve or reject Invenergy’s Shu’luuk Wind Energy project proposed to be built on the reservation, according to a meeting notice and agenda obtained by ECM.
ECM has also obtained a letter sent by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to Robert Eben, Superintendent of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Riverside. The EPA letter raises serious concerns over the project’s Draft Enviornmental Impact Statement (DEIR), concluding that there is “Insufficient information” on impacts of three project versions and that health impacts of noise and low-frequency sound on nearby residents have been ignored.
June 4, 2013 (Alpine) – Viejas Casino & Resort has been awarded the prestigious Four Diamond status from the American Automobile Association (AAA), officially designating the property as one of the nation’s premier resort destinations.
Fewer than 5% of the nearly 31,000 properties approved by AAA achieve the highly-coveted Four Diamond distinction.
“We are extremely proud to be acknowledged as one of the finest resort destinations in the country,” said Viejas Casino & Resort General Manager Chris Kelley. “This honor is a testament to the dedication, hard work and professionalism of our Team Members and reflects our absolute dedication to the highest standards of guest service, accommodations and amenities.”
Pollution of earth and water is driving indigenous peoples from their homelands
By Miriam Raftery
April 27, 2013 (San Diego)--Around the world, including here in the U.S., native people are losing lands they have occupied for countless generations. The earth and water that sustained life in their communities is being destroyed –once-mighty rivers and wetlands reduced to barren, parched or even contaminated land. The story is the same from tribes along the Colorado River to those deep in the Amazon, from the deserts of Southern California to the jungles of Mexico, from the coal fields of Appalachia to the copper mining pits of Arizona to indigenous people’s lands in Canada threatened by the Keystone Pipeline.
The culprit? Growing demand for energy and water.
Now, native people are speaking out. They hope to educate the public to conserve precious resources, sharing knowledge of the heart-breaking price being paid by people who have been given no choice—and whose very cultural identity centers around the lands and waters being lost.
“I really want to say `Dismantle it and give the land back to the tribes…I’d like to ask the Attorney General to…give this commission more teeth so we could say `Tear that wall down.” -- Commissioner Marshall McKay
(For full unedited videos, scroll to bottom of this story)
By Miriam Raftery
April 26, 2013 (San Diego) – At a hearing in San Diego on Monday, members of the state Native American Heritage Commission heard several hours of emotional testimony from Native Americans who contend that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management ignored their concerns and its duty to protect a clearly documented sacred site and cemetery in the fast-tracked approval process for the Ocotillo Express Wind Facility.
By a 4-0 vote, with the remaining commissioners absent, the NAHC voted to grant requests by Viejas and Quechan tribes to declare the 12,400 acre Ocotillo wind project site a sanctified Native American sacred site. Further, the commissioners voted unanimously to ask California Attorney General Kamala Harris to research if legal action can be taken.
April 19, 2013 (Alpine) – Bird singers, resources, food, activities, crafts for kids, entertain and more are all part of the Southern Indian Health Clinic’s annual Spring Gathering set for April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Alpine Clinic, 4058 Williows Road in Alpine.