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Exploring the lives of East County's Tribal Community

VIEJAS TRIBAL MEMBERS ELECT TRIBAL CHAIRMAN AND COUNCIL MEMBERS

December 22, 2012 – (San Diego) -- Members of the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians have voted in a new Tribal Council, returning five of seven incumbents, including Chairman Anthony R. Pico.  

Voting took place Saturday, December 15 at the Viejas Tribal Hall. Members of the new Tribal Council are as follows (I = incumbent):

Chairman: Anthony R. Pico (I)

Vice Chairman: Robert “Cita” Welch (I)

Secretary: Anita Uqualla (I)

Treasurer: Sam Q. Brown (I)

Councilmember: Raymond “Bear” Cuero (I)

Councilmember: Adrian K. Brown

Councilmember: Ernest “Chuka” Pingleton

SYCUAN SPONSORS FAMILY HOLIDAY PARTY FOR PEOPLE WITH MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS

December 18, 2012 (San Diego)--For the 10th consecutive year, the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, owners of the Sycuan Resort & Casino in El Cajon, sponsored the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s free annual family holiday party for people with MS, as well as their family members and caregivers. The National MS Society in San Diego said more than 600 people attended the 2012 event held on Sunday, Dec. 9 at the San Diego Community Concourse Golden Hall in Downtown San Diego. The holiday party featured a brunch, entertainment and gifts for children delivered by one of Santa’s helpers. Sycuan has sponsored the annual event since 2003.

TEAM MEMBERS AND GUESTS FROM VIEJAS CASINO & OUTLETS DONATE OVER 7,000 TOYS TO LOCAL SALVATION ARMY

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.

KUMEYAAY PLANT LORE AND USES TOUR DEC. 1

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.

SHOPPING FOR SMILES: VIEJAS FIREFIGHTERS ROLL OUT BIKES FOR NEEDY KIDS

 

By Miriam Raftery

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.”

VIEJAS HOTEL CELEBRATES FINAL STAGES WITH TOPPING OFF CEREMONY

by Ariele Johannson 

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. 

BOULEVARD RESIDENTS AND MANZANITA TRIBAL MEMBERS SPEAK OUT ON WIND TURBINE HEALTH CONCERNS

By Miriam Raftery

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. 

EAGLE EXPERT WARNS OF POPULATION COLLAPSE

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. 

U.S. NAVY VET HITS $500,000+ SLOT JACKPOT AT VIEJAS CASINO

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.

VIEJAS AND HEARTLAND FIRE TRAINING AUTHORITY FORGE JOINT POWERS AGREEMENT

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.”

RALLY TO SAVE GREGORY CANYON SET FOR OCTOBER 20

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.

BLISTERING DESERT SOLAR MEETING: DESTRUCTION OF NATIVE AMERICAN SACRED SITES AND LACK OF CONSULTATION DOMINATE

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.

"WHO ARE MY PEOPLE?" NEW FILM DOCUMENTS SACRED NATIVE AMERICAN SITES THREATENED BY DESERT SOLAR

By Miriam Raftery

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.

A SOOTHING AFTERNOON AT NATIVE DREAMS DAY SPA

By Miriam Raftery

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.

VIEJAS CASINO SETS NEW GUINNESS RECORD FOR WORLD'S LARGEST BLACKJACK TABLE

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.

NATIVE AMERICAN MUSIC PRESENTATION: “THEY’D SING & THEY’D TELL” SEPTEMBER 22

 

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

VIEJAS CASINO ATTEMPTS TO SET GUINNESS RECORD FOR WORLD'S LARGEST BLACKJACK TABLE

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.

SYCUAN TO HOST 23rd ANNUAL POW-WOW SEPT. 7-9


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. 

42ND ANNUAL BARONA POWWOW HONORS TRIBAL 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.

BARONA CELEBRATES NATIVE AMERICAN CULTURE AT THE 42ND ANNUAL POWWOW BEGINNING AUGUST 31

 

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. 

FEDS DRAW CRITCISM FOR HEARINGS ON SACRED SITES: TRIBES ASK WHY NO RECORDINGS WERE MADE NOR NOTES TAKEN

 

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?   

ECONOMIC IMPACT STUDY: TRIBAL GAMING A POWERFUL ECONOMIC ENGINE FOR CALIFORNIA, GENERATING $7.5 BILLION FOR STATE'S ECONOMY

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. The study, commissioned by the California Nations Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA), surveyed gaming and non-gaming tribes across the state, including a cross section of large and small casinos in urban and rural markets with a range of amenities including hotels, restaurants, retail establishments and entertainment venues. The study finds that Indian gaming operations provide significant benefits throughout California’s economy.

BLM RESPONDS TO ECM INQUIRY ON NATIVE AMERICAN REMAINS AT WIND SITES

By Miriam Raftery

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.

DOG TEAMS SEARCH FOR NATIVE AMERICAN REMAINS IN MCCAIN VALLEY , OCOTILLO AND JACUMBA

 

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.

HOUSE BILL WOULD MAKE IT COSTLY FOR PLAINTIFFS WHO SUE TO BLOCK ENERGY PROJECTS ON TRIBAL LANDS

 

 

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.

SANTA YSABEL RESORT & CASINO SEEKS DEBT RESTRUCTURING

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.

EIGHT TRIBAL NATIONS MOURN LOSSES AT OCOTILLO WIND SITE

 

 
By Miriam Raftery
 
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.  

SUPREME COURT RULING COULD IMPACT JAMUL INDIANS' CASINO PLANS

June 19, 2012 (Jamul)—The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled 8 to 1 that a lawsuit seeking to shut down a Michigan casino can go forward.

The suit, filed by casino opponent David Patchak, argues that the federal government acted illegally in placing land in trust for the Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish (Gun Lake) band of Pottawotami Indians, because the tribe was not recognized until after the Indian Reorganization Act passed in 1934.

The Supreme Court stated that the decision was not based on the merits of the case. Should Patchak’s argument prevail, however, the ramifications could impact some 50 other recently recognized tribes across the nation--including the Jamul Indians.

ALL-NIGHT WAKE: PUBLIC IMPLORED TO JOIN TRIBES AT OCOTILLO WIND SITE


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.

VIEJAS ROLLS OUT “SAY YES TO BOWLING!” FREE SUMMER PROGRAM FOR KIDS & TEENS

 

 
By Sierra Robinson

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.

 
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