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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Public asked to join with tribes on June 23
“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.
HUNTER, BILBRAY AND ISSA VOTE TO WEAKEN PROTECTIONS FOR NATIVE AMERICAN WOMEN & OTHER MINORITIES VICTIMIZED BY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
By Miriam Raftery
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.
It's a shame that this so-called violence against women bill could actually cause violence to women," said Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-San Diego), who voted against the measure. "This bill is outright dangerous."
But San Diego’s three Republican Congressmen—Duncan Hunter, Brian Bilbray and Darrell Issa—all voted for the House measure.
“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.
By Miriam Raftery
May 15, 2012 (Santa Ysabel) -- The Iipay Nation of Santa Ysabel is accusing San Diego County officials of acting illegally in attempting seizure of the tribe’s governmental funds.
Tribal Chairman Virgil Perez said his Tribe’s agreement with the County allows the attachment of proceeds from the Tribe’s casino, but prohibits the County from seizing non-gaming funds.
Perez said he received notice that the County tried to seize every dollar the tribe had in over 20 accounts--including federal grant funds obligated for operation of the tribal government, housing, environmental protection, American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds for road improvements, Indian Child Welfare Act matters, as well as state funds for elder and veterans services, and the minors trust fund.
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.
BROKEN PROMISES: OCOTILLO WIND PROJECT WINS APPROVAL DESPITE OUTCRY FROM TRIBES, RESIDENTS AND ENVIRONMENTALISTS
By Miriam Raftery
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.” .