Disenrollment issue brought to Senator’s attention
Senator Byron Dorgan (SD- Dem), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs
, held a listening session for tribal leaders at UCLA earlier today. The Senate Committee on Indian Affairs which is responsible for hearing issues affecting Indian tribes and Indian .
The purpose of the listening session was to allow tribal leaders from the region to address Senator Dorgan
regarding their priorities and concerns. Representatives from Pechanga, Morongo, San Manuel, and other regional tribes talked about a wide range of issues pertinent to their communities. However, it may have been the remarks of a non-tribal leader that drew the most attention.
An unexpected speaker, a UCLA student, caught many tribal leaders off guard as he came forth and addressed Chairman Dorgan regarding the growing number of disenrollments occurring in Indian Country in general and California in particular. While tribes have the authority to determine their own membership, there is a growing concern that many tribes have violated the basic human and civil rights- such as those set forth in the United States Constitution, the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, and other tribal, state, and federal laws- in the disenrollment and denial of membership of thousands of California Indians.
The issue of disenrollment, as well as civil rights violations in Indian Country, had not been addressed by any of the tribal leaders in their presentations to the Chairman. And it was apparent that some tribal leaders wish the issue would have not been brought to the attention of Chairman Dorgan at such an event.
It is now up to the Chairman and the Committee as to how they will take the information gathered from today's listening session and address the issues brought forth. More importantly, how will the Committee address the concern regarding disenrollment and basic rights violations now that it has been formally presented to them in an open forum.