Thursday, October 25, 2007

AIRRO will present Pechanga's Dishonor at the 22nd Annual CA Indian Conference

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.

1 comment:

anotherview2 said...

Please know, dear Reader, that the individuals disenrolled from Pechanga lost their membership because they did not have the facts on their side. Hence, their disenrollment corrected an error in the membership roll. The dishonor here arises from the disenrollees knowingly taking on tribal identity with its rights, benefits, and privileges, but without their having a valid foundation to do so. They have no shame or scruples. In the case of Mr. Gomez and his kin, yes, they lost their enrollment, but they still may associate with another tribal people, the San Luis Rey Indians. After all, as Leland E. Bibb notes, “Pablo Apis, a LuiseƱo Indian, was born about 1792 at Guajome near Mission San Luis Rey.“ ( Pablo Apis died circa 1852. Later, in 1882, President Chester A. Arthur, by Executive Order, created the reservation that became the Pechanga Indian Reservation. This chronology raises the issue of the status of Pablo Apis in relation to Pechanga. Clearly, having died 30 years before the formation of the Pechanga Indian Reservation, Pablo Apis could not have played a leadership role there. Insisting that he did, as the disenrollees do, creates a patent falsehood. As for human and civil rights, the disenrollees possess these rights as Americans, but they no longer may claim tribal rights for lack of tribal membership. As for “defining Indian identity,” both the courts and the U. S. Congress subscribe to and follow the longstanding legal doctrine that tribes determine their own membership in their own forum. Both authorities recognize the necessity and the validity of tribal identity staying in the hands of tribes. Now, bitter and disappointed, the disenrollees have begun a campaign of attack on Indian country, characterizing it as “an arena where the rights of the individual Indian are often trumped by the sovereign rights of the Tribe.” The disenrollees evidently cannot grasp that tribes function collectively or communally, not atomistically. In this respect, tribes do not set themselves against individual tribal members, and conversely, individual tribal members do not set themselves against the tribe. The tribe operates as a whole together. Tribal rights generally reside within a tribe while including the individual tribal members who comprise the tribe. Tribes resemble a large family. The disenrollees now find themselves external to this tribal community. But the disenrollees cannot accept this outcome. In turn, via the news media, the disenrollees have taken their plight to the court of public opinion, while beseeching politicians and others with little understanding of Indian matters. To listeners, the disenrollees argue by assertion, accusation, and innuendo, without worthy factual material. The disenrollees assert claims history cannot support. In addition, the disenrollees continue their lawsuits seeking a third-party forum, the courts, to intervene in tribal membership disputes so the courts may decide these internal tribal matters. The disenrollees aim to overturn the fundamental of a tribe as having the power, authority, and capability to conduct its own affairs in its own interest, including the determination of its own membership. The disenrollees sneer at tribal sovereignty as though it serves as an evil aspect of tribal government. Shortsightedly, the disenrollees cannot perceive this sovereignty as the intrinsic, central singularity guaranteeing life and survival to a tribe. Tribal sovereignty underlies and legitimizes the actions of tribal government, and furthers its autonomy. Interestingly, at bottom, the disenrollees wish to rejoin the tribe that ousted them. In effect, however, the disenrollees mean to dis-empower if not destroy that tribe by compromising its autonomy as expressed in determining tribal membership. Where would this compromise end? It would not, but would instead open the door for other future attacks, like a slippery slope. By this means, tribes as such in time would vanish. This contradiction shows the true feathers of the disenrollees as self-interested individuals bent on gaining their own ends, despite the harm to ancient tribal entities.