It’s been a decade since Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro asked the People of California to help Native Americans in their quest for self-reliance. I believe that most people took self-reliance to mean that Native Americans would help take care of their own people with the proceeds of Indian Gambling. This is the messaging of every public relations campaign during every California referendum on Indian Gaming, Each time the leaders of Pechanga were the face of the California Native community.
Unfortunately, self-reliance to Pechanga means keeping rightful people from joining the band and removing people who don’t think the way the leadership wants them to think, so there will be no dissent among the membership. The Council’s policy is cash your check and shut the hell up.
Pechanga’s Constitution and Bylaws provides for OPEN ENROLLMENT each January, yet in 1997 the band approved a petition, which called for a moratorium on member enrollment so that the tribe can get caught up with the applications. There are 10 members on that committee, how long could it take to catch up? The will of the people was the rule of law in an enrollment matter, upheld by the tribal council.
When the people passed a valid petition to halt all disenrollments in 2005, the tribal council maintained that the petition couldn’t be enforced, because the general council had no authority in enrollment matters.
Let’s get this right, the general council says the people could keep people OUT, but they can’t keep people IN?
So, we have the Pechanga Tribal Council acting in a shameful manner by eliminating 25% of their citizenry. They stripped this group of their status as Native Americans, and grabbed their share of per capita payments to grow their own. They keep rightful members from their place at Pechanga via disenrollment and abused the elders and children of two families, terminating their cultural heritage.
In direct contradiction to these reprehensible actions, Pechanga donates to groups like the Boys and Girls Clubs, The Temecula Valley School District, and other organizations, which gladly take generous donations from the tribal government. Would these groups accept these donations if they knew what Pechanga had done to their own people?
Pechanga used those donations to trumpet how they were generous to the community, and good neighbors. Yet, I can’t believe that the organizations mentioned above would believe it’s okay to screw someone, let some people die knowing their heritage was stripped, so that they can have a new swing set on their playgrounds? I really don’t believe they would have endorsed Pechanga in the last elections if they knew what was really happening on the reservation in their own neighborhood.
Ethical businesses and governmental agencies should be expressing their outrage at what Pechanga has done, not turning a blind eye. Many sovereign countries quit doing business in South Africa because of their apartheid policies. Pechanga’s policy of denying basic civil rights to the people that they were purported to be helping with Proposition 5A is little different than S. Africa's, or Saudi Arabia's denying women the right to vote.
If Wal-Mart is so bad for not providing health coverage for all of their associates, which bring protests for each new store, why isn’t the same outrage aimed at Pechanga, who not only took away per capita, but health coverage, education assistance, employment and elder care for the citizens they kicked to the curb?
What Pechanga is doing is the epitome of hypocrisy. They are hiding their ‘dirty family secret’ behind a veil of sovereignty, and then publicizing their good deeds to local charities to show what honorable people they are. Don’t allow them to get away with it. It is time the people of this community learn the truth.
Please spread the word and if you must patronize an Indian Gaming facility, it is time to go elsewhere. Let Mark Macarro know that you DO NOT support his actions.