Tribal Beat

Exploring the lives of East County's Tribal Community

POSSIBLE KUMEYAAY CREMATION SITE SPARKS NEW BID TO HALT BORDER WALL PROJECT

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  Members of the Kumeyaay tribe danced at the beginning of the Women’s March rally in 2019. Photo by Chris Stone

November 27, 2020 (San Diego) - The surprise discovery of possible human remains at Kumeyaay cultural sites has sparked a new attempt to halt border wall construction — even with 14 of 15 miles of the bollards already done.


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JAMUL INDIAN VILLAGE OF CALIFORNIA CHAIRWOMAN, ERICA M. PINTO, RECEIVES PRESTIGIOUS HONOR FROM THE AMERICAN INDIAN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE OF CA

East County News Service
 
Warrior Award recognizes outstanding efforts to grow tribal business
 
November 9, 2020 (Jamul) – Last Friday, Erica M. Pinto, Chairwoman of Jamul Indian Village of California (JIV), received the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California’s highest honor, the Warrior Award.  Ms. Pinto was recognized at the Chamber’s 2020 Native American Heritage Month Luncheon on Friday, November 6 at the Agua Caliente Resort in Rancho Mirage, CA.  The prestigious Warrior Award recognizes Ms. Pinto’s continuous work on behalf of tribal businesses and community growth for Native peoples. 

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SUNBELT CELEBRATES NATIVE AMERICAN HERITAGE MONTH WITH NEW RELEASE AND ONLINE PROGRAMS

By Miriam Raftery

November 9, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) -- Just in time for Native American Heritage Month, Sunbelt Publications announces the release of California Indian Basketry: Ikons of the Florescence by Wayne A. Thompson and Eugene S. Mejeran.  You can stream a spotlight sneak preview or pre-order a copy with 20% early bird discount.


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VIEJAS CASINO & RESORT DONATES 100,000 MASKS TO LOCAL SCHOOLS

Viejas Donates 100,000 masks to local schools

Source: Newswire.com

September 26, 2020 (Alpine) -- Viejas Casino & Resort recently donated 100,000 face masks to the Alpine Union School District. The donation, conceived by the Viejas Tribal Council, is focused on protecting the community and its children. Viejas has a long-standing tradition of community and isupporting local schools.

“It’s important to the Viejas Tribal membership and also to the Viejas Casino & Resort team that we understand and appreciate the importance of safety in the COVID-19 environment that we’re in,” Viejas Tribal Vice Chairman Victor Woods stated. “Safety and well-being of the students in class are of paramount importance to us.”

Alpine Union School District Superintendent Dr. Rich Newman expressed, “The impact that these face masks will have on our school district is huge. This is a year’s worth of supply for our students, staff, and our family members that are in need. It also is a huge cost savings to us and, as always, Viejas has been a fantastic partner with us through the years. This is one more example of how they step up for the community and support virtually every need that we have.”


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QUESTION, PERSUADE, REFER: VIRTUAL SUICIDE PREVENTION TRAINING HOSTED BY KUMEYAAY FAMILY SERVICES

Source:  Southern Indian Health Council

August 31, 2020 (San Diego's East County) - Kumeyaay Family Services PEI (Prevention and Early Intervention) is hosting a virtual suicide prevention training which is open to adults in the community.


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FEDERAL JUDGE SIDES WITH TRUMP FOR NOW IN TRIBAL SUIT OVER BORDER WALL

By Ken Stone, Times of San Diego, a member of the San Diego Online News Association

Photo:  A section of new, steel bollard-style replacement wall goes up near Calexico. CBP photo by Mani Albrecht

August 28, 2020 (Campo) - A federal judge handed the Trump administration a victory Thursday by refusing to halt construction of a section of border wall near Campo.


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WHILE MAJOR EVENT PLANNERS RALLY TO REQUEST AID AS SHUTDOWNS CONTINUE, TRIBES RESUME EVENTS, EXEMPT FROM STATE RESTRICTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

August 24, 2020 (San Diego) – Due to state and county restrictions on gatherings of any size, most theaters, concert halls and other large event sites remained closed to prevent spread of COVID-19.  On Aug. 13, the San Diego Event Coalition held an “empty venue” rally to call not for reopening due to safety concerns, but for aid to assist the industry.  


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PALA CASINO SPA RESORT ANNOUNCES NEW OUTDOOR CONCERT SERIES: UP & COMING COUNTRY ARTISTS

East County News Service

August 24, 2020 (Pala, CA) – Pala Casino Spa Resort in northeast San Diego County is launching an outdoor concert series in the Starlight Theater. The series is titled “Up & Coming Country Artistsopening Aug. 29 and running through Oct. 2.

 

The Pala tribe is able to host these events because sovereign tribal lands are not required to follow state or county restrictions on gatherings due to COVID-19.  However, Pala will follow guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control to protect health and safety of guests. According to Pala’s press release, guests will be asked to wear facial coverings and practice safe social distancing at events. Seats will be sanitized and pre-set to enforce proper social distancing. All guests will have temperatures screened. For a full list of the property updates and safety protocols, see https://www.palacasino.com/.


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ACLU TAKES BORDER WALL FIGHT TO SUPREME COURT, SEEKS HALT TO DESTRUCTION OF SACRED SITES, WILDLIFE AND PROTECTED SCENIC AREAS

By Miriam Raftery

 

File photo: A section of the old border fence being torn down in San Diego’s East County as work continues on new wall despite lawsuit and pandemic

 

July 23, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- The American Civil Liberties Union yesterday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to halt construction of President Trump’s border wall. In a motion filed on behalf of the Sierra Club and Southern Border Communities Coalition, the ACLU is urging the court to lift an earlier stay that allowed the Trump administration to divert $2.5 billion from military pay and pension funds for border wall construction that Congress had specifically denied. 


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KUMEYAAY PROTEST OF BORDER WALL DRAWS HUNDREDS DOWNTOWN

By Briana Gomez

Photo: Brooke Baines, left, Manzanita nation and Cynthia Parada, right, tribal councilwoman, La Posta Band of Mission Indians

July 6, 2020 (San Diego) - Approximately 200 people showed up in front of the San Diego Hall of Justice downtown Sunday afternoon to protest a border wall being built on sacred Kumeyaay land in East County. The protest was a seated, peaceful protest organized by Warriors of Awareness in conjunction with leaders and elected officials of local indigenous nations. 


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KUMEYAAY PROTEST HALTS DYNAMITE BLASTING AT BORDER WALL

 

 

By Helen Horvath

Photo, lefft: Dynamite charges set by the US Corps of Engineers

June 30, 2020 (Campo) – Yesterday, at the end of Tierra del Sol Road in the Campo area, a group of Kumeyaay-led people and supporters gathered early in the morning to protest the blasting of Kumeyaay cultural sites.

Many of these protesters, wearing masks due to COVID-19, were members of the Kumeyaay Original Peoples Alliance, American Indian Movement, and Warriors of Awareness. These groups  participated out of concern for the ancestral history and culture of the Kumeyaay tribes.  Black Lives Matter (BLM) and American Friends Service Committee also participated in the protest in a show of solidarity with local Native Americans. (Photo, right)


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SYCUAN SUPPORTS LA MESA BUSINESS COMMUNITY WITH $5,000 DONATION

East County News Service
 
Photo courtesy of the La Mesa Chamber of Commerce
 
June 16, 2020 (La Mesa) — The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation has donated $5,000 to help La Mesa businesses impacted by civil unrest the night of May 30th.  

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BARONA RESORT AND CASINO TO REOPEN STARTING WEDNESDAY,MAY 27

By Miriam Raftery

May 26, 2020 (Lakeside) – Barona Resort & Casino is the latest tribal casino to  begin a phased reopening,  starting tomorrow. The casino and hotel, including some restaurants, will be open with reduced capacity and new sanitation requirements.


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CASINO PAUMA TO REMAIN TEMPORARILY CLOSED FOR SAFETY OF ITS GUESTS, COMMUNITY AND EMPLOYEES

East County News Service

May 22, 2020 (Pauma Valley) – Bucking the trend of several local casinos that reopened this week or have announced upcoming reopening dates, Casino Pauma on Wednesday announced that it will remain closed indefinitely, choosing to following the advice of Governor Gavin Newsom and health officials to reduce the spread of COVID-19 during the pandemic.


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VIEJAS CASINO REOPENING BALANCES ECONOMIC NEED AND PUBLIC SAFETY

By Helen Horvath

Photo, left:  Worker sanitize chips, cards and table with UV lighting; screenshot from Viejas video

On May 18, 2020, the Viejas tribe took the bold leadership step of reopening Viejas Casino & Resort in collaboration with other tribal nations in San Diego in advance of the Stage 3 opening recommended by California’s Governor Gavin Newsom.

 ECM visited the casino on opening day, speaking with employees, guests and a union official about their experiences and the many changes in place due to COVID-19.


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JAMUL CASINO TO BEGIN PHASED RE-OPENING ON MAY 18, 2020

Opening with enhanced cleaning protocols and technology after COVID-19 closure, casino also offers take-out dinners with phase-in of restaurants planned

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

May 15, 2020 (Jamul) -- After a two-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jamul Casino today announced a phased-in reopening.  On May 18, a soft reopening at 10 a.m. is planned for its Sweetwater Rewards Club VIP guests (amber level and above), followed by a public reopening on May 20. Hours will be limited from 10 a.m to 2 p.m. until May 21, when 24-hour gaming operations are slated to resume.


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TWO MORE LOCAL CASINOS ANNOUNCE REOPENING PLANS, BUT COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICER OPPOSES ACTIONS

By Miriam Raftery

File photo: Sycuan Casino

Updated May 14 with additional information from County Public Health Officer Wilima Wooten

May 13, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – Following Viejas’ announced plans to reopen its casino on May 18, Sycuan and Valley View casinos have unveiled plans to reopen on May 19 and 21. All are on Native American reservations, and each has detailed plans for modifications aimed at protecting safety of the public and guests including face masks, sanitation procedures and social distancing.

However in a press conference today,  San Diego County Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten voiced concerns and indicated that the county does not agree with the casinos’ reopening plans.  “If. they do open and ignore our request not to open, then we would definitely have to ensure that they put stringent practices in place to help protect the public health. But opening up casinos will cause a risk to our public health. That is very clear; it creates gatherings of individuals,” she stated.

Later she indicated the county has reached out to the federal government to potentially block the casinos from reopening, NPR reports. 

Tribal reservations are considered sovereign nations that make their own laws, however state and federal officials do have some powers to intervene if public health is at risk. It remains to be seen whether authorities will allow the casino openings to proceed, or take steps to require modifications or prevent openings.


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A WINNING BET? VIEJAS CASINO PREPARES TO REOPEN WITH CHANGES TO PROTECT GUESTS

By Miriam Raftery

May 8, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – With casinos, hotels and other tribal enterprises shut down since March due to COVID-19 as stay-home orders remain in effect statweide, San Diego’s Native American tribes have been hard-hit economically. In addition to losing gaming revenues, many tribal members also lost their jobs. For non-gaming tribes that depend largely on shared revenues from tribes with casinos, some tribal members still live below the poverty level, so the consequences of the shut-down have been severe.


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INDIAN HEALTH COUNCIL IN VALLEY CENTER AWARDED FEDERAL GRANT FOR MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE TREATMENT DURING COVID-19 CRISIS

 
East County News Service
 
April 21, 2020 (Washington D.C.) -- The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has expedited its process to yesterday release $110 million in emergency grants to strengthen access to treatments for substance use disorders and serious mental illnesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
 
Locally, the Indian Health Council in Valley Center is the recipient of a $420,300 grant. For details on their grant and others awarded, visit https://www.samhsa.gov/grants/awards/2020/FG-20-006.   
 
“Within just a few weeks of Congress providing these grant funds, SAMHSA is distributing them to help Americans with substance use disorders and serious mental illness receive the treatment they need during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “SAMHSA has been working around the clock to ensure that Americans are getting access to the mental healthcare they need, whether for preexisting mental health conditions or for challenges arising during this emergency. President Trump has made mental health a priority throughout his time in office, and HHS will make support for quality mental healthcare a priority throughout the COVID-19 crisis.”

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CAMPO TRIBE'S FORMER CHAIR LA CHAPPA AND 64 MEMBERS PETITION FOR SPECIAL MEETING OVER ALLEGEDLY “CORRUPT ACTIONS” OF LEADERSHIP UNDER CHAIRMAN CUERO

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Monique La Chappa

March 26, 2020 (Campo) – After Campo tribal chair Harry Paul Cuero Jr. reportedly refused to recognize a motion or allow a vote on a petition to overturn approval of the new Campo Wind project, as ECM reported, a new petition (posted below this article) has reportedly been presented to Cuero which seeks to remove him and potentially other executive committee members from office.

The petition, which former Chair Monique La Chappa says has been signed by 64 tribal general counsel members, calls for a “vote to stop the corrupt actions of our Campo tribal leadership.” She indicates 64 signatures meets the threshhold which would mandate that  a meeting and vote be held.

But she and others fear the Chair may not respect the tribal constitution or federal laws, citing a pattern of disregarding such requirements in recent years in what La Chappa contends amounts to "a dictatorship," she told ECM an in exclusive interview.


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NATIVE AMERICAN TRIBES NOT GETTING AID TO FIGHT COVID-19: FEDS OFFER EXPIRED RESPIRATORS TO TRIBAL HEALTHCARE WORKERS

By Miriam Raftery

March 21, 2020 (San Diego) – Health clinics at Native American reservations as well as urban Indian healthcare centers are running dangerously low on medical supplies needed to combat the COVID-19 crisis and protect healthcare workers, Politico reports


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ALL EAST COUNTY CASINOS TO CLOSE MARCH 21-31 DUE TO COVID-19

Barona, Campo, Jamul, Sycuan, and Viejas Jointly Announce Casino Closures in Response to Coronavirus crisis

Source: Kumeyaay Nation

March 18, 2020 (San Diego's East County)  — Tribal government leaders of the Barona Band of Mission Indians, Campo Kumeyaay Nation, Jamul Indian Village, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians today jointly announced that they are temporarily closing their casinos amid concerns over the Coronavirus (COVID-19) beginning on Friday, March 20 at noon through the end of the month.

The Tribes are united in this decision to close for the health and well-being of the community, their guests and approximately 9,000 employees. Despite this closure, it is their hope that they can continue to provide emergency services for their respective communities.

 

In Campo, the gas station and convenience store will remain open for the convenience of residents.


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DANCING WITH THE STARS LIVE TOUR COMING TO SYCUAN ON MARCH 26

Tickets are now on sale

 

Source Sycuan

 

February 21, 2019 (El Cajon) -- America’s favorite dance show is going back on tour this winter with “Dancing with the Stars – Live Tour 2020.” The longest tour to date will be dancing through Sycuan Casino Resort on March 26 at 8 p.m. The all-new production will feature fan-favorite professional dancers wowing audiences with every type of dance style as seen on ABC’s hit show Dancing with the Stars.


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CAMPO TRIBAL MEMBERS PLEAD FOR LEGAL HELP, ALLEGE RIGHTS VIOLATED IN WIND PROJECT APPROVAL: PETITION SEEKS REVOTE ON CONTROVERSIAL PROJECT

“Our reservation is in dire financial condition. We have really nothing to give our youth…All we have are false promises.” – Denis Largo, tribal elder who delivered a petition calling for a vote to overturn wind project approval

By Miriam Raftery

Photo, left: Tribal elder Dennis Largo

February 14, 2020 (Campo)—Whistleblowers in the Campo band of Mission Indians claim that their tribal leadership pushed through approval of a massive wind project during an improperly noticed meeting. They have now collected enough signatures to overturn that approval with a revote.  But despite the Feb. 13th deadline to notify tribal members of a meeting to revote on the controversial project, several tribal members say they have not received any such notice.   

The proposed Campo Wind project would allow 60 turbines built by Terra-Gen on the reservation. Each would be 586 tall, the tallest wind turbines ever built on land, according to Donna Tisdale, chair of the Boulevard Community Planning Group, which also opposes the project.


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REZ RADIO 91.3 TO AIR 50TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT FORUM IN VALLEY CENTER FEB. 7

East County News Service
 
February 6, 2020 (Pala) -- Rez Radio 91.3 will broadcast and live stream the 50th Congressional District candidates forum scheduled for Friday, February 7 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Valley Center High School’s Maxine Theater.  Candidates expected to attend include in alphabetical order, Ammar Campa-Najjar, Carl DeMaio, Darrell Issa, and Brian Jones.  Moderators for the forum will be VCBA’s William Del Pilar and VC Roadrunner editor David Ross.

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CUYAMACA COLLEGE POWWOW RETURNS FEB. 1 WITH BIRD SINGERS, GOURD DANCING AND MORE

Source: Cuyamaca College
 
January 23, 2020 (El Cajon) -- Native American history and culture will be celebrated when tribes from throughout the West congregate at Cuyamaca College’s 6th Annual Powwow on Saturday, Feb. 1. Up to 2,500 people from throughout the region are expected to attend the free event that is open to the public.
 
The powwow begins at 9:30 a.m. with a traditional blessing, followed by the Ashaa Takook Bird Singers at 10 a.m., gourd dancing at 11 a.m. and Grand Entry at noon. The celebration continues until 8 p.m. and vendors will be selling Native American arts and crafts, fry bread and Indian tacos. Admission is free.


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STUDENTS IN MOUNTAIN EMPIRE DISTRICT LEARN KUMEYAAY “HISTORY ON THE GO” IN PARTNERSHIP WITH IMPERIAL VALLEY DESERT MUSEUM

East County News Service

January 23, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – The Mountain Empire Unified School District in San Diego’s rural East County has forged a partnership with the Imperial Valley Desert Museum to offer Kumeyaay history classes in all of the district’s schools.

Below is information provided by Bob Bordelon, American Indian Education/Title VII facilitator at Mountain Empire, in conjunction with the museum:

The greatest challenge in education today is most often that of inclusion – engaging students with lessons and content that are both exciting and relevant to their own experiences and backgrounds.  The benefits of this are obvious, encouraging better behavior and performance academically and socially, and providing a better path forward for self improvement. The consequences otherwise are just as dramatic, with noninclusive and non-representative lessons leaving students feeling isolated, overlooked, and unimportant with little to no voice within their community.  Nowhere is this more true than among indigenous students enrolled in our public schools. Far too often, these students experience a higher level of misbehavior, lower scholastic performance, lower graduation rates, and even a loss of identity. These are students with the same energy and potential as their peers, but from such a situation that their future is tragically far-too-often altogether different.  As a traditionally overlooked and underdeveloped group, it is vitally important to work together in the 21st century to provide these students every opportunity for self-growth, self-esteem, and self-determination.


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​$10,000 REWARD OFFERED FOR INFO ON ELIJAH “BEAR” DIAZ, EL CAJON MAN MISSING SINCE 2015

By Miriam Raftery
 
January 16, 2020 (El Cajon) – Authorities yesterday announced a $10,000 reward for information to help find Elijah “Bear” Diaz, a member of the Barona Band of Mission Indians who vanished under suspicious circumstances in August 2015. 
 
He was 20 years old at the time and ill from diabetes.  “He was about to get his foot amputated. He couldn’t walk. He was in a wheelchair a few days before,” his mother, Lelanie Joe Thompson told ECM in a interview last year, adding that her son weighed only 110 pounds and could not have left on his own. She said Diaz had only two weeks of insulin left when he disappeared.

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BULL AND BOURBON STEAKHOUSE AT SYCUAN WINS AAA FOUR-DIAMOND RATING

East County News Service

January 9, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – In its first year of operation, the Bull and Bourbon restaurant at the Sycuan Casino Resort has earned the prestigious AAA Four Diamond Rating, one of three casino steakhouses in the San Diego region with the designation.

The Bull and Bourbon steakhouse features steaks cooked on a wood-fired Santa Maria grill. The restaurant has its ownbeef dry-aging room, complimented by single-barrel and other high-end bourbons.


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SAN DIEGO'S HISTORIC PLACES: MISSION TRAILS REGIONAL PARK OFFERS INSIGHTS INTO KUMEYAAY

By Donald H. Harrison

Originally published at San Diego Jewish World, a member of the San Diego Online News Network

Photo:  Ewa’a on patio of Mission Trails Regional Park visitors center

December 8, 2019 (San Diego) - There are some 40 miles of trails in Mission Trails Regional Park along the San Diego River and surrounding grasslands and mountains. Hikers can view Kumeyaay and Spanish archaeological sites, possibly encounter some endangered animals and some dangerous ones, and be introduced to plants with characteristics so interesting they almost have personalities.


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