April 28, 2007
Senator Sheila Kuehl Via Facsimile and US mail
State Capitol, Room 5108
Sacramento, CA 95814
Re: Opposition to Pechanga Band Compact
Dear Senator Kuehl:
I would like to thank you for the position you took and the comments you made in opposition to the Pechanga Band's amended compact. Your statement was the first instance in which a member of the California Legislature has publicly addressed the situation at Pechanga.
As you know, Pechanga Band tribal officials have committed numerous human and civil rights violations since the signing and ratification of their last gaming compact with the State of California. However, Pechanga is not alone in its actions.
In California, over 2000 Indian individuals have been stripped of their citizenship and many more have been denied citizenship with their tribes. The rash of disenrollments and denials of citizenship has coincided with the passage of Prop 1A which legalized Indian gaming in California. In most, if not all instances, actions to disenfranchise members have been conducted in violation of tribal, state and federal laws.
The lawlessness that has infected California Indian Country has created an ever-growing population of individuals who have been subjected to and tormented by the unjust actions of tribal officials.
A few examples of the gross violations of basic human rights and civil liberties suffered at the hands of tribal officials include the denial of due process; denial of equal protection of Tribal, State, and Federal laws; the imposition of ex post facto laws; denial of participation in the electoral process; denial or stripping of tribal citizenship; denial or stripping of tribal benefits and services; and the taking of personal property without cause or just compensation.
Many of the actions taken by tribal officials are prima facie examples of prejudicial acts intended to deny targeted citizens of rights guaranteed by the United States and Tribal Constitutions, the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 ("ICRA"), and tribal law.
I mention the ICRA because, as a matter of record, the California State Legislature supports and is committed to the enforcement of the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 (25 U.S.C. Sec. 1301 and following), which was intended to "… protect individual Indians from arbitrary and unjust actions of tribal governments" and to secure for the individual American Indian the broad constitutional rights afforded all other American citizens. These protections and security do not exist in many areas of Indian Country- at least not for those who have been subjected to the arbitrary and capricious actions of tribal officials.
Whereas the actions taken by tribal officials are the very same as those prohibited by the ICRA, the tribal officials find themselves at odds with the California Legislature regarding the rights which should be afforded citizens of California and for which the Legislature has committed to enforce.
Therefore, I would like to request that you meet with individuals who have been violated by actions of tribal officials to deny or strip rights guaranteed by law. You will find that Pechanga is not alone; many gaming tribes have taken actions to strip individuals of the basic rights guaranteed by law and which the California Legislature has committed to enforce.
Once again, I commend you on the stance you made in opposition to the Pechanga Band's amended compact and urge you to meet with the victims of the egregious human and civil rights violations committed by California tribal officials.