I'll be on vacation for a week, and I'd like to offer up some previous posts that our new readers can catch up on. Time constraints wouldn't allow be to organize these better. Please tell your friends about this blog and come back often! Here's one from January 2008.
The explosion of Indian Gaming in California has lead to some acts that tribes such as Pechanga Band of Temecula would like to keep as “family secrets.” Removing Indians from tribes, pronouncing them non-Indians, had the same effect as Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Acts had in 1830’s America. Get the Indians we don’t want or like out of the way.
In 2004 and 2005, as part of the Concerned Pechanga People’s Indian Removal Policy, members of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians were forced to give up their membership in the tribe whose reservation is in Temecula, CA. Life-long members, who have had land on the reservation for centuries were forcibly expelled from the tribe. This act of paper genocide has had devastating effects on 25% of the Pechanga people.
Elders no longer qualify for the health care that they lobbied the tribe to provide for all its members. The young are not allowed to attend the reservation’s school, being forcibly blocked and told to leave, much in the manner of the white racists who blocked black children from integrating schools in Little Rock in the 1950’s.
Those who were removed, face an unsecured financial future. Many worked for the tribe, were part of all events, meetings, have their dead buried in the Pechanga Cemetery. Now, that has ended. In order to increase the per capita ($15,000 per month at the time of the first removal) some of the descendents of Pablo Apis, the family of Manuela Miranda were terminated from the tribe. Per capita grew to $20,000 per month (plus bonuses) for those remaining, members of the Concerned Pechanga People initiated a misinformation campaign, one that has successfully terminated over 300 Native Americans of Pechanga descent at the time of the second removal (the descendents of Paulina Hunter.) The per capita is now reportedly $40,000 per month.
Blood relatives are banished from the reservations, families who are no longer in the tribe, but live on the reservation property that they’ve owned since the late 1800’s live in fear that the tribe will take away their water, which has been threatened by some of the remaining tribal members. Will Pechanga really turn off their lifeblood, as easily as they took away their civil rights? It’s not difficult to think so, after the atrocities that the CPP have already committed.
The Concerned Pechanga People
This is the group of people that let the blackness of greed take over their hearts and minds.
The Splinter Group
This group is an offshoot of the 1980’s Splinter Group, led by Russell Murphy and assisted by Frances Miranda and Ihrene Scearse (later on the enrollment committee and committed to removing tribal members). Non-enrolled members of Pechanga, they started attending meetings and disrupted the regular goings on of the business. They announced that they were separating from the band and forming their own Tribe. They petitioned the BIA to recognize them, but the BIA refused.
With few exceptions, no member of the splinter group applied for membership because they knew they could not meet the constitutional requirements established by the Pechanga Band.
The actions of the splinter group raise legitimate questions: Are they really Pechanga? Are they able to document their lineal descent from an Original Pechanga Temecula Person as the Pechanga Bands Constitution and Bylaws require? Did they figure that disruption of tribal matters was the way to go?
This is not the portrait of a tribe in need, asking the people of California to allow tribes to have Las Vegas type gaming such as portrayed in the Prop. 1A and Prop. 5 television commercials of the 1990’s. This is about power, greed and violations of civil rights, voting rights, and elder abuse. It’s about tribal governments wielding sovereignty like a club and it’s about individual Indians that have nowhere to turn for justice.
I’ll explore this more in future posts, with thoughts on expanded gaming in California and what it feels like to be told you aren’t who you know you are.