The American Indian Rights and Resources Organization ("AIRRO") will be presenting this Saturday, October 27th, at the 22nd Annual California Indian Conference.
The conference is being held at the University of Califronia, Davis. Presenters from throughout California Indian Country will present papers and host panel discussions on topics ranging from sacred sites protection to native language issues.
AIRRO's presentation, The Struggle to Maintain Identity in an Era of Dishonor, will be given by Board Chair Carla Foreman-Maslin and Vice Chair John Gomez, Sr.
Over the course of the last 7 years, a growing number of California Indians have had their identity scrutinized and questioned as tribes reap the financial benefits from Indian gaming. As a result, nearly 3000 California Indians have been stripped of their tribal citizenship, and many more have been denied their right to identify themselves as “Indian”. This
discussion will focus on why this is happening, how it is affecting Indian Country, and why everyone should be concerned.
Those who find themselves without a tribe now face a battle to re-claim their Indian identity in an arena where the rights of the individual Indian are often trumped by the sovereign rights of the Tribe.
However, efforts on the State and Federal levels are gaining momentum in the battle to ensure that the individual Indian is afforded the same basic human and civil rights other United States citizens are guaranteed.
In addition, the media is beginning to take a harder look at the issue and publish stories, both on the local and national levels, which tell the tales of those who were once considered Indian or tribal but who now find themselves disenfranchised.
In the end, Congress and the Courts may play roles in further defining Indian identity and tribal sovereignty. How far they go will depend on the actions of the Tribes and individuals to address the issue.
About the Presenters:
Carla Foreman-Maslin is of the Achumawi band of Pit River Indians
through her Great Grandmother, Virginia Timmons, who was one of
the 17 original Indian distributees of the Redding Rancheria Tribe.
Mrs. Foreman-Maslin served on the Redding Rancheria Tribal Council
for a number of years and was employed as the Tribe's Health
Clinic Director. She also served as the Redding Rancheria’s Tribal
Representative to the California Rural Indian Health Board and
served on various tribal committees.
Mrs. Foreman-Maslin and her family were unjustly disenrolled from the
Redding Rancheria Tribe in January 2004, and they have fought for
basic rights for Indian individuals ever since.
John A. Gomez, Sr. is a direct descendant of Chief Pablo Apish,
headman of the Pechanga/Temecula Indians during the 1800’s. Mr.
Gomez retired in 2002 as a Facility Captain from the California
Department of Corrections after nearly 25 years of service.
Mr. Gomez has spent many years participating in Tribal activities and programs as a member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in Temecula, California. Mr. Gomez currently works on Indian rights issues and has presented to local and national organizations regarding human and civil rights.
Along with Mrs. Foreman-Maslin, Mr. Gomez was elected to the
inaugural Board of Directors for the American Indian Rights and
Resources Organization and is serving his second term as Vice-Chair.