The United Nation’s Human Rights Council (HRC) has begun a year-long review of the United States’ human rights record, with particular attention to be paid to the nation’s treatment of its indigenous American Indian population.
Some American Indian activists are using the occasion to make a case that the country is falling short — by failing to protect Indians from their own tribal governments.
That will be the focus of a meeting in Sacramento on April 17 organized by the American Indian Rights and Resources Organization (AIRRO, pronounced “arrow”). The group will hold a second session in Temecula on April 24.
The goal is to gather testimony and evidence about actions taken by tribal government against Indians, both members of tribes and people have been told they are no longer tribal members. This testimony will then be turned over not only to the HRC but the federal Departments of State, Justice, and the Interior, said AIRRO president John Gomez, Jr.
“The UN is going to look at the United States record of enforcing and protecting the basic rights of people within its borders, especially indigenous people,” Gomez said. “I think this will be the first time it will be shown not only to the State Department but to the UN that there really is a problem in Indian Country.”
Gomez himself is a former member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians who was disenrolled — that is, told his ancestry did not make him a legitimate member of the tribe — in 2004. He said that he is a legitimate Pechanga member, but that he and about 200 others were kicked out that year in a power struggle over the millions of dollars coming in from the tribe’s 3,000-slot-machine casino in Temecula. The tribe has repeatedly sought to refute Gomez’s claims over the half dozen years since. He now works full time for another tribe, the Ramona of Cahuilla Indians, but is not a member, in addition to running AIRRO.
Read more at CAPITOL WEEKLY Thank you to Malcolm Maclachlan for bringing us the story.