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.” .
WIND STORM : TRIBES IMPLORE PRESIDENT OBAMA TO STOP OCOTILLO EXPRESS WIND PROJECT, SAVE CULTURAL RESOURCE SITES
“We believe that DOI [Department of the Interior] is poised to violate the law and our rights to religious freedom and our cultural identities guaranteed by DOI’s own policies, the United States Constitution, and international declarations. We need your help.” --Chairman Anthony Pico, Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, in a letter to President Barack Obama
Part I in an ECM special report series on potential impacts of the Ocotilllo Wind Express project
By Miriam Raftery
March 23, 2012 (Ocotillo) – For months, Ocotillo residents and conservationists have been waging a David and Goliath battle seeking to stop Pattern Energy’s proposed Ocotillo Wind Express project. Now Kumeyaay, Cocopah,Quechan and other Native American tribes have banded together to oppose the massive project-- joining residents, desert conservation groups and outdoor enthusiasts who seek to protect resources from destruction—including hundreds of cultural and archaeological sites.
On March 28, the Imperial Valley Planning Commission will rule on whether to approve the controversial project, which would generate power for San Diego County. At the federal level, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior is expected to issue a final decision by May 1. A petition seeking to stop the project has been launched by Ocotillo residents: http://www.change.org/petitions/say-no- ... y-project#.
March 20, 2012 (Jamul)--The Jamul Indians have revived plans to build a casino on their 6.2-acre reservation—this time with a dramatically different approach. The new plans reflect changes that seek to address backlash from neighboring community members who opposed failed proposals in the past.
San Diego Workshop Evaluates Controversial Large Solar and Wind Projects, Desert Conservation, “Rooftop” Solar and Distributed Energy Opportunities in Mexico and the U.S.
March 14, 2012 (San Diego) — Indigenous leaders from San Diego County and across the state are set to meet with renewable energy and conservation experts, and lawmakers in a workshop on Friday, March 16, to evaluate strategies for renewable energy implementation in Southern California and Northern Baja California, Mexico.
Controversial energy projects in the Southwest deserts have raised concerns about large-scale impacts to desert ecosystems, endangered and threatened species and Native American cultural resources. Several legal challenges by tribal and environmental groups are being heard in Federal Courts in the United States and Mexico. Projects have repeatedly been stopped and delayed.
March 1, 2012 (East San Diego County) -- The Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians has announced that they are donating $2,500 for the recovery of “Chance,” the dog that was found shot on the Viejas Reservation earlier this month.
February 18, 2012 (San Diego) -- The 41st annual American Indian Pow-Wow will be held on March 17 at San Diego State University.
This free event, which is open to the public, is sponsored by the San Diego State Alumni Association, Viejas Band of the Kumeyaay Nation, and the SDSU President's Leadership Fund.
February 3, 2012 (Sacramento) --The California Tribal Business Alliance (CTBA) has announced the group’s new officers for 2012.
CHAIRWOMAN - Leslie Lohse, Treasurer of the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians of California.
VICE-CHAIRMAN - Robert Smith, Chairman of the Pala Band of Luiseño Indians.
SECRETARY-TREASURER - Margie Mejia, Chairwoman of the Lytton Rancheria of California.
By Miriam Raftery
January 13, 2012 (El Cajon )—The Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation has moved a step closer to its goal of tripling the size of its one-square-mile reservation along the Sweetwater River in Dehesa.
The County Board of Supervisors, which previously opposed the tribe's plan, voted to approve the annexation after Sycuan agreed to reimburse the County about $321,000 a year in lost tax revenues for seven years. The tribe will also fund $800,000 in traffic improvements in Dehesa. If approved by the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs, Sycuan hopes to build an equestrian center, 50 houses and an RV park on the added land, which will also include the Sycuan Resort and golf course.
$250,000 GOLDEN TICKET DRAWN AT BARONA: SAN DIEGO WOMAN TAKES HOME CASINO'S LARGEST GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY IN HISTORY
Dec. 28, 2011 (Lakeside) - One lucky San Diegan's life was forever changed on Dec. 23 with the drawing of Barona Resort & Casino's largest, guaranteed grand finale prize in its history: The Golden Ticket Giveaway. Ending 2011 on an exciting note, Mary T. of San Diego was thrilled to learn that her Golden Ticket was the winning ticket drawn out of 53 daily winners over the 53 day promotion.
Photos By Miriam Raftery
December 8, 2011 (Alpine) – Viejas Casino Team Members and guests have donated more than 3,000 toys for the Salvation Army serving eastern San Diego and western Imperial Counties.
Viejas Casino announced the grand total of 3,231 toys donated this holiday season by team members and guests at the annual Salvation Army Holiday Party and Auction, held last night at the DreamCatcher at Viejas Casino.
November 25, 2011 (Alpine) -- Gretchen Rossi of Bravo's hit reality series "The Real Housewives of Orange County" will join 11 other local celebrities at Viejas Casino on Monday, November 28 in a Celebrity Slot Tournament at Viejas Casino. 100 percent of the winnings from the tournament, which begins at 10:30 a.m., will be donated to the local Salvation Army.
The list of confirmed celebrities for the slot tournament include sports stars, TV news anchors and more:
November 20, 2011 (Alpine) -- Viejas Casino will host a Celebrity Slot Tournament on Monday, November 28 at 10:30 a.m. with 100% of the winnings donated to the local Salvation Army.
NEW EXHIBITION SHOWCASES MUSICAL TRADITIONS AND TALENTS ON THE BARONA INDIAN RESERVATION; OPENS NOVEMBER 19
November 16, 2011 (Lakeside)--On November 19, the Barona Cultural Center & Museum will open “Rock of Ages: Contemporary Music Traditions on the Barona Reservation” -- an exhibition that will showcase today’s native culture of singer-songwriters, rock bands, country-western players and other popular music, reservation-style.
Tree-lighting and ice show extravaganza light up the night tonight
November 11, 2011 (Alpine) -- Skate into the holidays on Southern California’s largest outdoor ice rink, now open at Viejas Outlet Center in Alpine. The nearly 10,000-square-foot rink, one of our region’s most popular winter playgrounds, will remain open through Jan. 8, 2012.
The season kicks off with a lighting of the Viejas holiday tree at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 11, followed by a free Extravaganza on Ice Show with professional skaters--plus a visit from Santa Claus.
November 5, 2011 (Alpine) -- Viejas Outlets is proud to announce the official opening of Brooks Brothers Factory Store. The 7,200 square foot store is the 9th in California and offers a full range of Brooks Brothers fine clothing and accessories for men and women.
ECM Special Report
By Miriam Raftery
Photos by Pam Wilmers, Video by Billy Ortiz
Updated October 21, 2011
October 20, 2011 (Lakeside) – Construction of an access road needed for completion of the Sunrise Powerlink in Lakeside’s El Monte Valley has been halted due to discovery of a “possible Indian site” found during road-grading activities, a property owner informed ECM yesterday.
By Miriam Raftery
September 23, 2011 (Alpine) – A proposed 150-room hotel adjacent to the Viejas Casino would be “great for our guests and great for the community,” said Viejas public affairs director Robert Scheid at last night’s Alpine Community Planning Group meeting. The $36 million project would generate 450 construction jobs and upon completion, 45 employees at the hotel, said Scheid.
By Miriam Raftery
September 19, 2011 (Alpine) – “Tribal gaming has provided the resources to end generations of poverty,” Viejas tribal chairman Anthony Pico said at Viejas Casino’s 20th anniversary party. Gaming has also enabled the tribe to attain self-reliance and donate to many local charities.
It’s also enriched some lucky players through the years. Since opening its doors in 1991, Viejas Casino has given away $2 billion. The most recent lucky winner? Maria Teresa Magpantay Dull of San Diego, who was elated to win a 2012 Corvette valued at $35,000 at Saturday night’s celebration. View a video of the winining moment.
By Miriam Raftery
September 15, 2011 (El Cajon) – “No surface is unchanged,” Michael Tabor, director of marketing at Sycuan Casino, said in a preview tour of the $27 million remodel. Tabor has dubbed the project “Casino Reimagined.” The entire building was gutted one section at a time, remaining open for business 24-hours a day throughout construction while a top-flight design team created the architectural metamorphosis.
On September 24 and 25, Sycuan will host a grand reopening celebration. The public is invited to the event, which will include $75,000 in cash and prize giveaways.
September 14, 2011 (Alpine)—It took a tribe—and some extra teamwork in the kitchen—to serve up 4,000 free meals at the Viejas Casino’s Harvest Buffet in Alpine yesterday. The event was all part of Viejas’ 20th anniversary celebration, as tribal leaders decided to give back to a community that has helped support their thriving business ventures.
“It wasn’t easy,” Steve Robbins, Viejas executive chef/director of food and beverages said of the logistics involved. “I’ve got a culinary team of about 60 people here.”
Tribe says “Thank You” to community
September 12, 2011 (Alpine) – Viejas Casino, a premier Southern California gaming, dining and entertainment destination, is celebrating its 20th Anniversary by offering the public a free meal at the award-winning Harvest Buffet. That’s a free meal – no strings attached – from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, September 13.
September 7, 2011 (El Cajon) – Helping keep tribal traditions alive, the annual pow-wow on the Sycuan Reservation this weekend will offer $125,000 in prize money for winning competitors. Top prizes will be awarded in the drum/singing contest, including an $8,000 first prize. Men and women, children, teens and adults will vie for additional prizes including bird dancing and bird singing. Each dance has its own special significant with traditional apparel, from buckskin to jingle dresses.