Indians at war with their brothers. Sending their families into the streets. This is NOT what Californians expected when we voted for gaming. Tribes told us we would be helping ALL Indians. They LIED, we are now helping FEWER Indians than we were 5 years ago. Picayune eliminated 500 of their tribe, Pechanga 300 (plus keeping 400 OUT that belong), Redding eliminated a large family, NOW, San Pascual is trying to remove another 50.
HOW MANY DOES IT HAVE TO BE BEFORE IT'S WRONG?
Talks between warring factions of the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians are at a stalemate, which has led to a crucial meeting this weekend between tribal leaders and federal officials at the North County reservation.
A dispute on whether 80 people belong in the tribe has split the tribe's governing council, putting the tribe's Valley View Casino at risk of closing its doors, a Bureau of Indian Affairs official said Thursday."The elected council needs to come together, not two on that side and three on that side, but as five members," said Jim Fletcher, the bureau's Southern California superintendent.
Fletcher is scheduled to meet with San Pasqual tribal leaders Sunday to discuss the ongoing dispute.It is the latest in a bitter feud among factions of the 300-member tribe that calls into question what it means to be American Indian and who gets to benefit from the spoils of casino wealth. San Pasqual Chairman Allen Lawson has declined to discuss the matter and did not return a call for comment Thursday.
In July, members of the tribe conducted two separate meetings on the disenrollment matter, each side claiming leadership of the tribe. One was at the reservation and the other in Escondido.The group that met at San Pasqual voted to accept a consultant's report that concluded the 80 people whose tribal affiliations are in question do not belong and should not be listed as members of San Pasqual.
Last year, Ron Mast, a member of the San Pasqual tribe, filed a challenge saying that the group does not belong in the tribe. He says the group is made up of descendants of Marcus R. Alto Sr., whom he contends was adopted by his aunt and uncle, Maria Duro Alto and Jose Alto, as a child, but was not their biological son."This is the meeting where it all gets decided," Mast said about Sunday's gathering.
About 50 tribal members lost their jobs at the casino and their share of casino revenues earlier this year after some members of the tribe voted to accept the report's findings. Tribal leaders said the casino payments are being held in special accounts until the membership dispute is resolved. Fletcher said that the tribe could not legally take away tribal member's benefits before the bureau has made a final ruling on the question of whether the group belongs in the tribe.
North County Times does a good job on the story as usual.
In July, Fletcher sent a letter to tribal officials saying his agency no longer recognizes a functioning tribal government because of the split and the tribe's apparent inability to convene a quorum of tribal leaders. So then, aren't ALL per capita payments ILLEGAL without a revenue sharing plan?
The letter stressed that federal law forbids tribes from operating businesses or programs in the absence of a functioning government. In August, Lawson asked Fletcher to arrange a meeting with a Justice Department mediator.
Those talks hit an impasse, Fletcher said Thursday. He declined to discuss the matter in detail, but he confirmed that the tribe could lose its right to operate the casino if an agreement is not reached."It's a possible outcome, yes," Fletcher said.