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Challenging Three Strikes Law by Robin O’Neal

Three months after the grounds bless- ing on March 5, 2011, Changing Seasons Recovery is providing a sober living refuge to native women in pursuit of sobriety and new direction for their lives. Several women are pursuing voca- tional training, applying for jobs, obtain- ing their GED and, most importantly, facing the future with a clear mind. Weekly wellbriety meetings, talking cir- cles, morning prayer & meditation, cul- tural events, mentors and much more have all greatly contributed to their recovery efforts.

“I’ve gotta stay clean and outta trou- ble”; “I’ve been in this cycle for decades”; “I already have two strikes and am not picking up a third”. These are words founder and CEO, Robin O’Neal, knows well. Had the full meaning and implica-

In this issue...

1 Changing Seasons Recovery Triumph for Mesa Grande

2 3

First Lady and Indian Kids Plant Garden

Seminole Chairman James Billie Recognizes Red Bays Black Seminoles William Loren Katz

4 US Declines to Try Native Crimes SanDag Public Hearings

5 Disenrollment Protest 6 Sycuan New Gaming Commissioners Let’s Move in Indian Country

7 Traditional Healers Dispute DNA Findings Cherokees Take Over Tulsa Tourism Center

8-9 Old Town Pow Wow San Luis Rey Pow Wow Del Mar Fair

10 Pagens in the Promised Land - Book Review 11 Tribal Leaders to Talk Cobell Settlement San Diego Airport Update Claim for USDA Farm Loan

12 Friends of the First and the Forced - Bob Filner MLK National Memorial Dedication

13 US Automotive Industry Resurgence Moms United to End War on Drugs In Memory of Teressa

14 Nevada News 15 Reid All About It First Floating Building Project

16 Tribal TANF

tion of the consequences these words could bring not become a personal part of her family’s life, Changing Seasons Recovery would not exist. Three years ago, her son was facing two strikes. A last minute plea agreement sent him to prison for a 6 1/2years with only one strike. Their son’s attorney was emphatic “Your son can’t go into prison with two strikes … it’s too easy to pick up a third while inside. He needs to take the plea agreement.” Everything inside her screamed out for drug rehabilitation not incarceration.

Resignation, frustration, hurt and

anger turned into despair and deep depression. Purpose and meaning were elusive for what felt like an eternity. Grappling with words to describe the pain or to break the news to family and friends seemed impossible. A decade’s worth of her son’s meth addiction was playing out like a horror movie. “How could I have been so naïve as to vote for

this horrid Three Strike Law. God forgive me! I believed the smoke screen thrown up to blind the truth from the reality. Who wouldn’t vote to keep the worst, most violent predators, child molesters, rapists in prison 25 to life? But that was a lie! Now it’s my son and the manda- tory sentencing laws are insane and serve absolutely no ‘rehabilita- tion’ efforts whatsoever. An addict needs help, not an overcrowded cage. We just passed a law giving chickens more space!” Almost two years of wallowing in

misery set the stage for God’s healing to begin. Verses memorized since child- hood began to break through the fog, ease the pain and provide a glimmer of

A Triumph for Mesa Grande: Phillip Espinoza Graduates from UCSD

by Norrie Robbins, PhD

Graduation from college is, of course, both a personal and a family accom- plishment. But sometimes it becomes something larger—especially when it involves the first 4-year college gradu- ate living on the Mesa Grande Reservation. Phillip Espinoza, Kumeyaay/Diegueno, graduated this May from UCSD with a BA in Political Science. He worked hard, listened to his elders, and followed the academic pathway with no stumbles. Phillip helped to organize and pro- duce the first Pow Wow at UCSD since 1993. The crowd there on a perfect day in May celebrated the graduation of four Indian students, including the two young men whose life paths started at Rincon (Phil MacNitt) and Mesa Grande Reservations. They sang with the Kumeyaay and Cahuilla Birdsingers at the Pow Wow.

Phillip wanted other people to know

that if there is a will, there is a way. He found encouragement from the educa- tion director at Mesa Grande, Cindy Rivera, who said “when he helped with the tribal youth tutoring program, he always had such a pleasant attitude and was a pleasure to work with.” He fol- lowed the guidance of counselor Lorna Rabatoy (now Thomas) at Julian High School. He observed a scientist role model, Doc Robbins from SDSU, as he helped guide younger children from Mesa Grande in Science Explorer’s Club. He attended the AIR program and listened carefully to lawyer Dwight Lomayesava. Martha Masch, now the guidance counselor at Julian High School, remembered that he listened especially to people who he recognized knew things. Through this pathway, he found the funding he needed for college on FAFSA.

His pathway in the next year includes studying for the LSATs. After that, he wants to attend law school and

JUNE 2011

hope. “He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear”; “I know the plans I have for you ... plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”; “All things work together for good”; “He heals the bro-

SEE Changing Seasons, page 2

Phillip Espinoza helped to organize and pro- duce the first Pow Wow at UCSD since 1993.

learn the tools that will help his people. Knowing him, he’ll keep asking ques- tions until he finds the people who can lead him smoothly along his journey.

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