California Indian Environmental Alliance (Berkeley, CA)


  • Name:Vanja Danilovic
  • Title:Organizational Development Coordinator

Organization Address

  • Organization Name:California Indian Environmental Alliance
  • Address:po box 2128
    Berkeley, CA 94702
    United States

Organization Phone

  • Main phone:5108482043

Organization Web

User Email


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  • Mission:
  • Our mission is to protect and restore California Indian Peoples’ cultural traditions, ancestral territories, means of subsistence and environmental health.

    The California Indian Environmental Alliance (CIEA) has worked with California Tribes since 2003 distributing up-to-date and clear information about mercury in California waters and holding strategy meetings to address this toxin. CIEA’s goals has always been to inform families of fishing locations lowest in toxins, to secure locations that can support eating fish so that communities can benefit from traditional, nutritional diets, and to increase Tribal leadership in state agency programs to address water quality issues.

  • Overview:
  • CIEA is working with Tribal partners to coordinating two statewide water quality campaigns which will increase water quality to levels that support subsistence fishing in California water bodies. These are:

    1) Statewide adoption of the Beneficial Use definitions for Subsistence Fishing and Native American Cultural Use

    2) Revisions to the Integrated Regional Water Management program (IRWM) so that Tribes can fully join in the governance of these regional stakeholder groups to guide water restoration and management.

    Establishing Beneficial Uses is an important part of instituting regulations to protect surface water, as required by the Clean Water Act and the Porter-Cologne Water Quality Act to support the protection of the human use of water in the state of California. Each of the nine Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCB) and the overarching California State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) establish the Beneficial Uses of the waters, in consultation with the public. Since 2003 the State Water Board has received requests for subsistence fishing water (FISH) designations to be applied statewide. Only the North Coast region has the FISH & CUL definitions in place. In the Central Valley the local agency stated it was not mandatory that they use FISH/CUL since it was not a statewide designation and instead chose to use the Commercial and Sport Fishing (COMM) Beneficial Use as the standard, which protects the public only if eating two 6 oz. servings of top trophic fish per week. Tribes in California who eat local fish traditionally have reported that during certain times of the year they eat up to 28 servings per week. It is obvious the COMM level of protection is not adequate for families relying on subsistence fishing from only waterbody or small set of traditional location. At the same time a Tribal fish consumption study was conducted which included data from only twenty (20) of over a hundred Tribes. Agencies are considering only extending protections of beneficial uses to those Tribes who completed the survey. This is a misuse of a limited study and would result in a large number of waters in California being left unprotected.

    The Department of Water Resources’ (DWR) administers the Integrated Regional Water Management (IRWM) grant program, which provides billions of dollars in water management funds to regions formed into Regional Water Management Groups (RWMG)). Each IRWM plans and submit specific water management projects for funding consideration by DWR. IRWMPs are a collaborative effort to manage all aspects of water resources in a region and are an opportunity for Tribes and communities to build partnerships with local and state agencies, municipalities and other stakeholders. Currently only two of the 49 regions have Tribes included as full participants in their regional IRWM. From the beginning, Tribal participation in the IRWM program has been hampered because the original IRWM-enabling legislation did not mention Tribes, yet IRWM is seen as the future of CA water management, and they involve waters encumbered with unresolved Native claims, lands and resources under Native jurisdiction, and projects and programs that impact Native communities and governments often without consultation with impacted Tribes and communities. Some key challenges identified include lack of understanding of Tribal sovereignty and government-to-government relationships on the part of RWMGs; lack of meaningful and sustained outreach to Tribes; and established mechanisms of IRWM participation that are perceived by Tribes as infringing on Tribal sovereignty, thus reducing Tribes’ desire and ability to participate in IRWM (2013). CIEA was chosen as the Tribal Engagement Coordinator for the North Coast and the Upper Feather River. The Subsistence Fishing Water Quality Project will establish permanent places for Tribes in the governance structure at the highest levels, and revise the IRWM language to recognize the governance and jurisdictional responsibility of Tribes to protect water quality for cultural continuance.

  • History:
  • California's rivers lakes and streams contain an estimated 13 million pounds of mercury. Mercury is a neurotoxin which can cause permanent learning disabilities in children whose mothers ate high mercury fish when pregnant. All of the waters in California contain some level of mercury. There are currently 2 state-wide and 53 warnings, or advisories for California water bodies due to mercury contamination. Most California residents still do not know the size and scale of the environmental destruction that the Gold Rush Caused. They do not know that the San Francisco Bay contains two feet of mining sediments from the Sierra-Nevada’s and that the much of the foothill landscape they see is from mine tailings, mine waste piles and sluice remnants.

    From 2000-2003 California Indian Environmental Alliance (CIEA) staff worked on the film “Gold, Greed and Genocide.” Native American Youth from the San Francisco Bay Area interviewed elders of California Indian Nations who survived the 20 year Gold Rush genocide. The film not only was developed as a tool to debunk the myth of the Gold Rush, it also uncovered the toxic legacy of mercury. At a gathering in Willits, California activists, elders Tribal members and our staff recognized that pregnant moms did not know that eating fish in mercury could lead to permanent learning disabilities for their children. Tribal leaders told us to inform the Indian Health Clinics and communities. We could not tell people not to eat traditional foods, we had to provide hope and find opportunities to advocate for cleanup.

    CIEA was founded in 2006 to address mining toxins threatening physical and environmental health, and the cultural continuance of California Peoples and families. We were created to assist California families in navigating the contradictory and difficult to find information on mercury in fish and its effects on the human body. We did something the agencies were afraid to do at the time: we trusted California elders, traditions and families. We recognized the rights of families to make choices based on all available information. We were not and are not afraid to provide the most accurate and most protective information available. We still recommending that women and children eat fish however these must be low in mercury. The agencies and science eventually caught up with us and our message has remained the same: traditional foods, including fish, are the most healthful; however large predatory long-lived fish gather toxins. In order to protect the right to eat traditional foods at subsistence quantities we also advocate that California Tribes are able to set standards that support subsistence fishing and secure safe fishing locations.

    CIEA’s core programs are the Mercury Tribal Health, Tribal Self-Advocacy, and our Leadership programs. Together these empower California Indian communities to practice subsistence fishing cultures, avoid mercury and PCBs in fish, self-advocate for cleanup of California lands and waterways left over from legacy gold mining, and train the future generation to be environmental stewards.

  • Year established:2006
  • Endowment:Unknown


  • Executive / Trustee board size:4
  • Advisory board size:
  • Staff size:4


  • Organization type:Grantseeker
  • Country of registration:United States
  • Tax Determination Letter:Received Determination Letter
  • IRS Section:501(c)(3)
  • IRS Subsection:None
  • Tax ID:27-0861293

IRS Business Master File Information

  • EIN:270861293
  • Sort (Secondary) Name:CIEA
  • Care Of Name:% SHERRI NORRIS
  • Organization Address:PO BOX 2128
  • Organization City:BERKELEY
  • Organization State:CA
  • Organization Zip:94702-0128
  • Group Exemption Number:0000
  • Subsection Code:03
  • Classification Code(s):1
  • Subsection/Classification Desc.:Charitable Organization
  • Affiliation Code:3
  • Ruling Date:February, 2010
  • Deductibility Code:1
  • Foundation Code:15
  • Foundation Code Desc.:Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public 170(b)(1)(A)(vi)
  • Activity Code(s):
  • Activity Code Desc.(s):
  • Organization Code:1 (Corporation)
  • Exempt Org. Status Code:01 (Unconditional Exemption)
  • Tax Period:December, 2016
  • Filing Requirement Category:01 (990 (all other) or 990EZ return)
  • Accounting Period:December
  • NTEE Code:E70
  • Asset Amount:$120,264
  • Asset Code:4 ($100,000 - $499,999)
  • Income Amount:$220,510
  • Income Code:4 ($100,000 - $499,999)
  • 990 Revenue Amount:$220,510
  • Last Updated:2/22/2018 8:46:37 am

This information is directly from the IRS Exempt Organization Business Master File at Exempt Organizations Business Master File Extract. This information is not under the control of the Common Grant Application and is collected and compiled and can only be changed by the IRS.