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In bad times, tribes keep on giving

SAN DIEGO – Amid the country’s bleak financial state, Indians in southern California are being asked by their neighbors for financial assistance more than ever, tribes there report.

And they are stepping up.

Communities in San Diego and Imperial counties recently received a total of $336,000 from four tribes, including a $150,000 donation to an organization that provides free meals to seniors.

The donation, announced Oct. 8 by the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians to Angel’s Depot of Vista, will help seniors that live on a monthly income of $900 or less.

“We could tell by the increasing number of impassioned requests, which came from throughout the state, that hard times had hit,” said DeLisle Calac, chairman of the Rincon Contributions Committee.

For Becky’s House, a San Diego family shelter for victims of domestic violence, the depressed economic atmosphere has affected its ability to provide services by generating a rise in domestic violence and slowing down contributions, said Salvador Rivera, communications manager for the Sycuan Casino in El Cajon. The Sycuan’s $50,000 donation to the shelter on Oct. 9 was received with gratitude.

“We would like to thank Sycuan for its loyalty, friendship and financial support for domestic violence victims during these difficult economic times,” said Casey Gwinn, CEO of Becky’s House.

Calac, whose Rincon tribe donated an additional $130,000 to more than a dozen organizations, said it was difficult to choose what programs to support but priority was given to programs located in communities in the northeast quadrant of San Diego County that help children and seniors. Their recipient list ran the gamut: social services providers, a library, a hospice center, recreation events, high schools and augmenting the budgets of neighboring incorporated cities.

Toward the east in Imperial County, a $6,000 donation was received to support food programs for seniors from the Viejas and Manzanita bands of Kumeyaay Indians of Alpine and Campo, respectively. They had previously partnered to give $5,000 to the cause.

“Our tribe and Imperial County have a very strong, positive working relationship based on mutual-respect, trust and a commitment to improving the lives of all of our citizens,” said Manzanita Tribal Chairman Leroy Elliot