To: United States Congress
We the undersigned protest the actions taken by officials of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians to deny and/or strip Pechanga Tribal Members of their identity and heritage.
In the course of the last 3 years, the Pechanga Tribal Officials have taken action to reduce its membership by nearly 30%. In 2004, 130+ adult members and their immediate families were disenrolled from the Pechanga Band. The members were all descendants of Chief Pablo Apish, a historically significant leader of the Pechanga/Temecula people. None of the members were allowed to participate in the 2004 tribal elections as a result of their disenrollment.
An additional extended family of approximately 100 adults was disenrolled in March 2006 when tribal officials determined that the ancestor from whom they are lineally descended from was not an Original Pechanga/Temecula person. This determination was made despite the fact that a report prepared by a well known anthropologist hired by the Band’s Enrollment Committee concluded she was a Pechanga/Temecula person.
The expulsions of the 2 families removed significant opposition to the current administration and others running for tribal office as they represented large voting blocks whose views differed from or opposed the current tribal Chairperson and a majority of the Tribal Council.
The actions of the tribal officials responsible for this “reduction in membership” have violated tribal and federal laws enacted to protect the basic rights and privileges of the individual Indian victims.
Specifically, the members were denied the due process and equal rights protections provided in the Indian Civil Rights Act, as well as language in the Band’s Constitution and Bylaws which mandates that tribal officials uphold the individual rights of each member without malice or prejudice. Tribal members were also subjected to ex post facto laws; denied participation in the electoral process; had personal property taken without cause or just compensation; and are being denied their right to practice their religion. Pechanga tribal officials have continually attempted to mislead the public regarding their actions to deny individual rights by claiming “it is an internal matter”.
In fact, Pechanga Chairman Macarro was quoted in the local newspaper as saying, "What goes on internally at Pechanga is of no business to the white man, …" It is this type of arrogance, coupled with the violations of individual rights, which must be stopped before it spreads even further. The denial or taking of any individual’s basic human and civil rights cannot merely be brushed aside by categorizing it as “an internal matter”. In fact, such characterization should be cause for alarm and seen as an act by the oppressors to further violate the rights of the victim.
Until such time as the basic rights of all individual Indian people are recognized and upheld on par with those of other citizens, a growing number of individual Indians will be subjected to the same types of arbitrary and unjust acts which have been committed by Pechanga tribal officials- acts which were intended to be outlawed decades ago. Based on their actions, we request that the Federal Government conduct an investigation of the Pechanga tribal officials for their continued gross violations of human and civil rights, and subject these officials to the most severe criminal sanctions allowed. Cultural genocide should not be tolerated by anyone and should be fought by all.
It is in the best interest of all people- Indian and non-Indian alike- that any violations of human and/or civil rights be addressed promptly and the violators be stopped before there are additional victims to their crimes.
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