March 10, 1945 – August 7, 2014
“During the most difficult times in Indian Country or just the office, Char was always so reassuring that we are fighting the good fight and that we will prevail to make a significant difference for all Native people despite the obstacles in our way. She had a way of calming you even if you were ready to cry or punch the wall,” remembers a co-worker.
CILS is saddened to share that former CILS Administrator, Charlene Roubidoux Betsillie, passed away on August 7, 2014. Charlene began her nearly thirty-year tenure with CILS in April of 1972 and retired in 2004. Her cheerful personality and dedication to family and the Indian community will always be a source of inspiration for all who knew Char. During her tenure at CILS, Char assisted our former Oakland Office attorneys in providing services to the Indian community at a time when no other law firms practiced Indian law. She also provided support to the then long-time Executive Director and all CILS staff on administrative and personnel matters. She was a sweet person, always pleasant and positive to be around. CILS staff remembers her love of giving back to the Native community and her dedication to her daughter and grandchildren. She would drive hundreds of miles to participate in her Tribe’s activities; ceremonial and political. Char’s contributions to the Native community are too many to list, but here are a few:
While Char resided in the Bay Area for many years, she was proud of her Tribal heritage and had moved home to be with her family near the Yurok Reservation in recent years. Char holds a special place at CILS and in the hearts of many. She was an incredible woman and will be missed dearly.
Tmohkelee' 'ne-chekws. - Our heart is broken.
CILS Board Chair Rachel Joseph and Vice-Chair Mark Romero (Chairman of the Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians), participated in a groundbreaking ceremony for a new Youth Regional Treatment Center (YRTC) in Hemet, California, on July 31, 2014. Mark Vezzola, Directing Attorney of CILS’ Escondido office, also attended the event. The ceremony marked the culmination of decades of work and lobbying on the part of local tribal leaders and Native organizations to address the health needs of Native youth.
Tribes and the federal government operate 10 YRTCs across the country. Each center receives funding from the Indian Health Service to address mental health and substance abuse issues facing American Indian and Alaska Native youth in that area. By using culture-based programs and educational activities, YRTCs aims to help young people overcome challenges so they can become community leaders and role models for future generations. Services include clinical evaluations, counseling, group, individual and family psychotherapy, life skills training, medication management and monitoring, relapse prevention, and post treatment follow up.
Chairman Mark Romero, Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians & CILS Board Vice-Chairman
Despite a growing need, there were no YRTCs in the California Area of the Indian Health Service until now. Funding and property have been secured however to build two YRTCs in the state, one in Hemet and another in Yolo County in northern California.
California Indian Legal Services would like to make the following correction to the previous posting regarding the July 8, 2014 hearing before the Second District of the California Court of Appeal in the In the Matter of A.P.. The placement of A.P. ordered by the lower court was with A.P.’s non-Indian extended family member. We apologize for an confusion regarding this issue.
On July 8, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. the Second District of the California Court of Appeal will hear oral argument In the Matter of A.P., a dependency case involving a child who is a member of the Choctaw Nation. The narrow issue before the court is whether the lower court erred in following the placement provisions under the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and accompanying California law implementing the ICWA. The lower court placed A.P. with her extended Indian family over the objection of the de facto parents, who are A.P.’s foster parents. The broader issues raised by the foster parents are: (1) ICWA does not apply because A.P. was never in the physical custody of her Indian father and thus A.P. was not removed from an “Indian family”; and (2) the ICWA is unconstitutional.
The arguments advanced by the foster parents have been rejected by the California courts and legislature but are being resurrected in the hope that the recent United States Supreme Court case Adoptive Parents v. Baby Girl has breathed new life into them. The foster parents' legal team includes many of the attorneys involved in the Baby Girl case and are using the same arguments here in California to advocate for limiting the application of the ICWA and, if possible, having the ICWA declared unconstitutional.
CILS encourages tribes and tribal community members to show their support for the preservation of the ICWA in California and attend the July 8th hearing if possible. The hearing will be held at:
300 South Spring Street, 3rd Floor
Los Angeles, CA (Ronald Reagan Building)