Tribal Beat

Exploring the lives of East County's Tribal Community

INTERIOR ANNOUNCES SERIES OF TRIBAL CONSULTATIONS IN RECOGNITION OF THE IMPORTANCE OF NATION-TO-NATION RELATIONSHIPS

Source:  U.S. Department of the Interior

February 11, 2021 (Washington, D.C.) - The Department of the Interior announced today that it will host initial consultations with Tribal leaders next month. In addition to honoring and strengthening the nation-to-nation relationship, these steps will help ensure that future White House and Interior efforts at addressing the four converging crises of our time – COVID-19, economic security, racial justice and climate change – are inclusive of Tribal Nations’ priorities and recommendations. 


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SHOOTING AT SINGING HILLS GOLF RESORT AT SYCUAN

East County News Service

February 11, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Yesterday around 6:00 p.m., Sheriff's deputies and officers with the Sycuan Police Department responded to a report of a shooting and found a man who had been shot in a hotel room at the Singing Hills Golf Resort at Sycuan in unincorporated El Cajon. They provided lifesaving measures until relieved by Sycuan Fire Department personnel. The man was transported to a local area hospital, but  was pronounced deceased shortly after arriving.

The Sheriff's Homicide Unit responded and has assumed responsibility of the investigation. The identity of the victim is known to investigators; however, his name is being withheld pending family notification, says Lt. Thomas Siever with the Sheriff’s homicide unit.


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ARTIST SIMON MELNYK TO CREATE KUMEYAAY MURAL IN RAMONA

Source: Ramona H.E.A.R.T. Murals

February 11, 2021 (Ramona) -- Artist Simon Melnyk has been chosen by Ramona H.E.A.R.T. murals to create a new mural paying tribute to the Kumeyaay Native Americans who occupied the area as long as 12,000 years ago.

The mural will be placed on the Verizon Building at 1530 Main Street, Ramona to be completed in September 2021 and will fill a portion of the wall on the end closest to Main St.


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VIEW OUR INTERVIEW WITH ERICA PINTO, CHAIR OF CALIF. INDIAN HEALTH COUNCIL

 

By Miriam Raftery

January 19, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) – Jamul Indian Chairwoman Erica Pinto, newly elected Chair of the California Indian Health Council, sat down for an interview with ECM in January aired on KNSJ radio.

We discussed healthcare issues facing Native Americans in our region, COVID-19, and her goals as the new Chair, including “finding ways to improve our healthcare,” notably finding and retaining doctors for remote rural areas. We also asked her reaction to Pres. Biden's nomination of the first Native AMerican women to head up the Department of the Interior, which oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs as well as federal public lands.


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HUNDREDS MARCH TO SAVE EL MONTE VALLEY: LAKESIDE RESIDENTS AND TRIBAL MEMBERS URGE SUPERVISORS TO VOTE YES ON LAND PURCHASE

Over 1,500 sign petition to save valley from sand mining

 

By Henri Migala

 

Photo: marchers support land purchase to protect land from sand mining

 

February 7, 2021 (Lakeside) -- San Diego County Supervisors are slated to vote this Wed., Feb. 10 on purchasing 98 acres of Lakeside’s  El Monte Valley from the Helix Water District. A petition signed by more than 1,500 people urges them to vote yes, in hopes of protecting the valley against sand mining and protecting it for posterity. (An earlier petition to stop sand mining in the valley drew more than 3,000 signatures.)

 

Former Supervisor Dianne Jacob introduced the measure to protect the land for the public and prevent it from becoming a sand mine. Jacob, who represented District 2 which includes Lakeside, was a forceful ally of the community and the Kumeyaay in their efforts to protect El Monte Valley from being mined. She secured funds and gathered support of other Supervisors to purchase the land, but term-limits ended her tenure before the issue came up for a vote. Now her replacement, Supervisor Joel Anderson, and two other newly elected Supervisors, will cast deciding votes.  

 

To make sure the new Supervisors are aware of the strong sentiments of the community, a “Save El Monte” demonstration and march was held by Kumeyaay Native Americans and people from across San Diego County on Saturday.


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SYCUAN RESORTS AMONG FIRST IN WORLD TO RECEIVE HEALTH SECURITY VERIFICATION FROM SHARECARE AND FORBES TRAVEL GUIDE

East County News Service

Photo courtesy of Sycuan Casino Resort

February 7, 2021 (Sycuan) -- Sycuan Casino Resort and Singing Hills Golf Resort at Sycuan are among the first hotels in the world to become Sharecare Health Security VERIFIED® with Forbes Travel Guide. The comprehensive facility verification helps ensure that guests and travel planners can book with confidence at properties that have appropriate health safety procedures in place.


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MAN CHARGED FOR SHOOTING GIRLFRIEND, FIRING AT DEPUTIES ON BARONA RESERVATION

By Miriam Raftery
 
February 5, 2021 (Lakeside) – The Sheriff’s department has released new details regarding a shoot-out that occurred January 31 on the Barona Reservation.  

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JAMUL INDIAN VILLAGE OF CALIFORNIA DONATES $75,000 TO REGIONAL HEALTHCARE AGENCIES

Tribe seeks to alleviate effects of pandemic

Source:  Jamul Indian Village of California

Photo:  Erica M. Pinto, Chairwoman of Jamul Indian Village of California

January 5, 2021 (Jamul) - Today, the Jamul Indian Village of California (JIV or Tribe), owner and operator of Jamul Casino®, announced its 2020 year-end donations totaling $75,000 to local healthcare agencies, including $45,000 to Sharp Grossmont Hospital, $15,000 to Southern Indian Health Council, and $15,000 to Indian Health Council, Inc.  JIV provided these year-end healthcare donations in addition to its annual fall philanthropy and community outreach campaigns, which included contributing more than $40,000 to non-profits for breast cancer research and awareness, veterans’ programs, and other local causes. These donations reflect JIV’s desire to give back to the community in impactful ways, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic that has particularly challenged front-line workers in the healthcare industry.


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LOCAL CASINOS CANCEL NEW YEAR’S PARTIES

By Miriam Raftery

Photo: Creative Commons via Bing

December 31, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – On most New Year’s eves, local casinos host lavish parties with amenities such as fireworks, dinner and dancing, and even a glittering ball drop reminiscent of Times Square in New York.  But not this year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that has killed over 343,000 Americans and 1.8 million people worldwide.

Local casinos are on tribal land, and as sovereign nations, tribes are exempt from state shutdown orders and gathering bans. But a check of websites for East County casinos including Barona, Golden Acorn, Jamul, Sycuan and Viejas found none promoting any New Year’s eve parties, though some are offering gambling promotions and Sycuan has live music in its bars.

Jamul Casino announced cancellation of all live music over New Year's.  Barona posted, “For your safety, there will be no New Year’s Eve events.”


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JAMUL INDIAN VILLAGE OF CALIFORNIA'S CHAIRWOMAN, ERICA M. PINTO, ELECTED CHAIR OF SOUTHERN INDIAN HEALTH COUNCIL, INC.

Chairwoman expands efforts to improve lives of Native peoples

East County News Service

December 10, 2020 (Jamul) - On Monday, November 30, Erica M. Pinto, Chairwoman of The Jamul Indian Village of California (JIV), was elected Chair of the Southern Indian Health Council, Inc. (SIHC).  The SIHC, founded in 1982, is a Native American organization which aims to protect and improve the physical, mental, and spiritual health of the Native American community.  Having intermittently served on the 14-member SIHC board since 2004, Ms. Pinto will begin her two-year term as Chair in January 2021.  The Chairwoman, who was honored last month with the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of California’s highest honor, the Warrior Award, has become a recognized leader in the effort to improve the lives of Native peoples.


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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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