Sunday, March 1, 2009

HUNDREDS Expelled From Chukchansi: Rep. Diane Watson, California Indians Need your Help

The Fresno Bee has a big story on the expulsion of hundreds fromt the Picayune Rancheria. We need our representatives to STAND UP for those of us who have suffered at the hands of their tribes.

With millions of dollars flowing into the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino near Coarsegold each month, the Indians of the Picayune Rancheria have tapped into a source of wealth they hope will end decades of poverty.

But not everyone gets to share the bounty.

Over the last several years, the tribe has expelled about half its members, stripping them of their Native American heritage, former members say.
Hundreds have been cut from the rolls even though many could clearly document their Chukchansi descent, they said. Some had been tribal leaders. Even two of the last 10 people who speak the tribe's language were removed, one former member said.

Those who were kicked out of the tribe, including the jobless or elderly, lost health-care benefits, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. subsidies, college scholarships and any hope for a share of casino profits.

Those who remain could receive significantly larger payouts from the casino now that membership has been slashed, former members say.

"What better way to get more money in the future than to whittle down your tribe?" asked Mary Chapman, a 71-year-old retired Fresno County worker who says she was expelled after she questioned the disenrollments.

Tribal Chairman Morris Reid says the disenrollments were necessary to correct past membership mistakes and had nothing to do with increasing the wealth of remaining tribal members. OP: This is a standard answer from many tribes. Do you think they all went to the SAME disenrollment seminar, or got their legal advice from the SAME law firms?

"We had to find out if they were qualified Chukchansi," he said. "It was a process and procedure that had to be followed."
But some who have been expelled say the move contradicts the original purpose of Indian gaming: to draw a long-suffering people out of poverty and unite them in prosperity.
"It's really a sad day when your people are engaging in the theft of your identity to line their pockets," said Cathy Cory, a special-education teacher in Porterville who was disenrolled along with 41 members of her family. OP: Cathy has been out front for those who were disenrolled from Picayune, mostly alone and standing up for hundreds.

The Chukchansi tribe had 23 members two decades ago after it was officially recognized by the federal government. The tribe boosted membership to more than 1,500 by the late 1990s, in part to increase federal aid, tribal leaders later said. OP: WILL the tribe RE-imburse the federal government for all the money and benefits they received for those tribal members they now have eliminated?

Then, as the sparkling casino doors swung open in 2003, the seven-member tribal council decided it had enrolled too many people. It ordered a membership audit and, according to former members, kicked out more than 500 members in 2006. It had already expelled more than 200 members years earlier. OP: Thats..uh, 700.

Those disenrolled include retirees and children, teachers and college students -- some in the Valley and others scattered across the country. The tribal council voted to kick out members who had served on tribal committees and on the tribal council, and booted at least one sitting council member. Others were removed from the tribe even though their blood relatives were allowed to stay.
The federal government hasn't recorded membership since 2005, but former members say the tribe has about 760 people. Reid, the chairman, estimated membership at 900 to 1,100, but said he did not have an exact count. OP: REID, therefore must be a liar. They don't have a complete membership roll? He can't come closer than a 200 member spread? Can we trust someone like HIM to pay California our rightful share of casino profits?

Read the LINK above for the complete story. This is NOT what we voted on.


cideways said...

Just another crack in the tribal sovereignty damn, its like they won't be happy till they've completely corrupted and destroyed Indian country. Making us look even worse to the media and Government.

Erick Rhoan said...

Good article. Glad to see people shedding light on this issue.

I just wrote my own piece on this event when I saw your article.

Allen L. Lee said...

Hello Erick Rhoan,
Where can we read your article?

Allen L. Lee said...

I think it's time we try to seek a little congressional help for Diane Watson. Two Congresspersons, Joe Baca in the Inland Empire and
Doris Matsui in Sacramento ar members of the Congressional Native American Caucus. perhaps they should be made aware of these important Human Rights principles that dis-enrollees would like to have addressed as they concern themselves with Native recognition and Human Rights abroad:

"International human rights law lays down obligations which States are bound to respect. By becoming parties to international treaties, States assume obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect and to fulfil human rights. The obligation to respect means that States must refrain from interfering with or curtailing the enjoyment of human rights. The obligation to protect requires States to protect individuals and groups against human rights abuses. The obligation to fulfil means that States must take positive action to facilitate the enjoyment of basic human rights.

While they(US) have embraced one part of this principle in refraining from interfering, the other 2/3 of the principle require equal attention.

"…4. The right to self-government ought to be granted with the express dedication to the survival of their culture, their cosmovision, and their respect for the Earth, including all living and nonliving things. The fact that, for some groups, religion is the law should be respected. While certain indigenous codes of criminal law may be restorative rather than retributive, those should be upheld as well. As long as the indigenous group meets the definition's objective criteria, it should be entitled to make determinations regarding its membership. Indigenous sovereigns, as any government, should, however, be bound by the minimum threshold of universal standards of human rights. “

"Indigenous sovereigns, as any government, should, however, be bound by the minimum threshold of universal standards of human rights. “
This speaks for itself.

Congressperson info:

“Rep. Joe Baca of California introduced House Resolution 3585 to establish on the American calendar a Native American Heritage Day, one day after Thanksgiving. “

Title: To honor of the achievements and contributions of Native Americans to the United States, and for other purposes.
Sponsor: Rep Baca, Joe [CA-43] (introduced 9/19/2007) Cosponsors (73)

President Bush signed into law legislation introduced by Congressman Joe Baca (D-Rialto), to designate the Friday after Thanksgiving as Native American Heritage Day. The Native American Heritage Day Bill[1]

JOE BACA, Democrat, of San Bernardino County, CA; born in Belen, NM, January 23, 1947; education; graduated from California State University
the Native American Caucus

District Office
201 North "E" Street, Suite 102
San Bernardino, CA 92401
(909)885-BACA (2222)
Fax: (909)888-5959
Map On Mapquest
Contact Joe Baca

Congresswoman Matsui

Congresswoman Doris Matsui Statement on the closing of Guantanamo Bay

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Doris Matsui (CA-05) issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s executive order that outlines a process for closing the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and revising detention and interrogation policies:

"Change has indeed come to America, and to its policies, and not a moment too soon. Just two days ago, President Obama was sworn-in as the 44th President of the United States, with millions watching and participating. I wholeheartedly support the actions taken by President Obama today to change the misguided torture policies of the past, policies that have been contrary to our constitution and have hurt our national security by damaging our standing in the world. With one stroke of a pen, President Obama has fulfilled a campaign promise that rallied millions to his cause, and in so doing he has reaffirmed the American promise of the rule of law and respect for human rights. Today, I am proud to join President Obama as America continues on its path toward providing real safety for all Americans, without abandoning the values of democracy that make our country great."

Congresswoman Doris Matsui
Native American Caucus
Sacramento, CA Office
Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse
501 I Street, Suite 12-600
Sacramento, CA 95814
p: 916.498.5600

Finally, a precedent has already been set regarding genetic discrimination. The federal government can not contradict it’s own laws by condemning the practice with health insurers and condoning the practices with tribes.
"Congress Passes Bill Barring Genetic Discrimination
The House today passed a measure by a whopping 414-to-1 margin that would prohibit health insurers from canceling or denying coverage or hiking premiums based on a genetic predisposition to a specific disease. The legislation, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), also bars employers from using genetic information to hire, fire, promote or make any other employment-related decisions....
…"Since no one is born with perfect genes, we are all potential victims of genetic discrimination. This legislation marks the beginning of a new era in health care where a person's genetic information can no longer be used against them,'' bill sponsor Rep. Louise Slaughter (D-N.Y.) said after the legislation sailed through the House.

"President Bush Signs the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008

Washington, Wed., May 21, 2008 - The President today signed into law the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) that will protect Americans against discrimination based on their genetic information when it comes to health insurance and employment."

Allen L. Lee

Erick Rhoan said...

Either click on my name or copy/paste this link:

Allen L. Lee said...

Best quotes of the day for me:

“Posted by Erick ,

…The Indians took care of each other; they took in people from other bands for the sake of survival and community.
…And like the newsletter points out, the more people on the roll list then the more money they got from the BIA.
So if the tribes needed their enrollment numbers up at one time then why do they need them reduced now? What factors would justify the tribes to get serious about determining who is a member of their tribe and who isn’t? What role does having a casino play in determining whether the membership lists needed to be reduced or expanded?
…the use of disenrollment as a function of protecting the tribal community is a gross farce. I find such excuses by this tribal council or any tribal council to that effect to be putting up the window dressing of due process when it smells of something different.”

“David Cornsilk
They are imposing an historic lie...
… The issue here is not whether the Freedmen have Cherokee blood. They can prove they do. At the same time the Delaware, Shawnee and Adopted whites cannot prove they have Cherokee blood. Yet, they remain members of the CNO. What Mike and Chad are saying is the Freedmen must prove they have blood of their masters in order to qualify to be house negros. The racism perpetrated against the Freedmen which relegated them to a separate section of the Dawes Roll and denied them any claim of their Indian blood, is now being used by Smith and company to bar the Freedmen. The assumption that the Dawes Roll is infalible of those Cherokees with and without Cherokee Indian blood is erroneous and a continued badge of slavery imposed on the Freedmen in 1902 and continue by Smith and company today.”