Wednesday, October 6, 2010

How Pechanga's Moratorium and Disenrollments are connected

Hunter cousin A'amokat has put together some information on how the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians' moratorium on enrollment and their tragic disenrollment of true Pechanga people are connected.    Please read and share with your friends.  I've added some commentary to A'amokats piece  Did you know you can share these posts on Facebook and Twitter?   There are links at the top of the page.

Some Connections Between the Moratorium and Disenrollment


In March 2002 when new members of the Pechanga enrollment committee were elected by the tribe and took office, including members of both the Manuela Miranda and Hunter families, they found that the committee had not been doing the job they were elected to do and the new committee members felt, after trying to deal with the issues on the committee internally, it was their obligation to report their findings to the tribal council, led by Mark Macarro.

The allegations made by the new enrollment committee members included but were not limited to:

1. Applications that had the required number of signatures for approval (6) but were never processed. When confronted with this a committee member who was responsible for processing new applicants, a descendant of Candarlaria Nesecat Flores, replied, “I don’t care if it has 24 signatures on it, if I don’t think there is a bloodline, I’m not processing it.”   OP:   Frances Miranda was a descendent of Flores, and was on the enrollment committee.

2. Some 40 applications of children of enrolled tribal members were banded and set aside so they would not be processed because the committee members from the CPP faction of the tribe, who to that point had controlled the committee by having a majority, had no intention of enrolling these childrenOP:  Keeping children from their rightful place in the tribe.   Their lineal descent was proven.  This created a virtual moratorium on membership.

3. The new committee members found that there were families where one sibling was enrolled and another was not, even though both submitted identical applications at the same time.

4. Applications that were placed in the moratorium, even though the applications were submitted prior to the deadline, and the individuals had repeatedly contacted the committee to follow up on their status.

5. Refusal to sign enrollment applications or birth certificates for individuals who are members of families they don’t like.

So if these applications were never approved, even those who were the minor children of enrolled members but who are adults now, that means there are dozens of people, if not more, who ended up in the moratorium who never, even under the unconstitutional law that is in place now, should have been there in the first place.   OP:   Think of the implications.  The CPP was working to control VOTES.  Imagine of there were 10 more voters who would be in opposition to their plans.   They would have been stalled.   One vote to end all this lost by four votes.

After the new enrollment committee members made their allegations to the tribal council the committee members who the allegations were made against, including members of both the Masiel/Basquez and Candalaria Nesecat Flores families, served the new committee members with disenrollment papers even before any evidence questioning their tribal membership had even been submitted against them or their families.

This first effort failed but after this their supporters(from the CPP faction), consisting of at least nine of their close family members; including a brother, a son, nieces, and nephews; demanded to meet with the enrollment committee and they submitted statements (which amounted to hearsay) against the committee members’ tribal membership who had accused their relatives of wrong doing on the committee.

Needless to say, reportedly the tribal council never acted on the allegations of wrong doing on the committee made by the newly elected committee members as reportedly the attorney from Indian legal services said he could not advise them on the subject after reportedly being told by the tribe’s legal council to not get involved.

But worse yet, even though there was a clear conflict of interest, those family members from the Basquez/Masiel and Candaralaria Nesecat Flores families (CPP faction) were allowed to rule on the disenrollment cases of both the Manuela Miranda and Hunter families.

By the way the allegations by committee members from the Hunter and Manuela Miranda families had made against those committee members from the Basquez/Masiel and C.N. Flores families officially were not part of the Hunters’ and M. Mirandas’ disenrollment cases but unofficially they seem to have everything to do with them as reasonable people could conclude that retaliation was involved.

Article V of the Band’s Constitution and Bylaws states:

"IT SHALL BE THE DUTY OF ALL ELECTED OFFICIALS OF THE BAND TO UPHOLD AND ENFORCE THE CONSTITUTION, BYLAWS, AND ORDINANCES OF THE TEMECULA BAND OF LUISENO MISSION INDIANS; AND ALSO, TO UPHOLD THE INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS OF EACH MEMBER WITHOUT MALICE OR PREJUDICE."

So how does allowing people my Hunter family member had accused of wrongdoing on the enrollment committee and whose close relatives had submitted statements against my family’s tribal membership not violate this equal protection clause of the Band’s constitution and bylaws? 

So is it any surprise that we were disenrolled? I think not!

Early civil rights battles:

I think most people today would acknowledge that grave injustices were done to black people in this country over the years, especially in the southern regions of the United States where they were literally, even after slavery was outlawed, second class citizens by custom and tradition as well as by actual law.

However, even in the in the deep south before the advent of the civil rights movement, if, for example, a black man was accused of a crime, it would have been frowned upon to have the brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, or close cousins of key prosecution witnesses sitting on a jury that was going to decide his innocence or guilt and to have one of their relatives acting as a judge during his trial.  OP:  Currently, our newest Supreme Court justice, Elena Kagan is recusing herself from almost 50% of the case load, because as solicitor general, she had a part in siding with our government.  Even if she contemplated bringing suit or participating, she recused herself.    Now, why wouldn't the tribal council RECUSE someone who had a DIRECT stake in terminating members? 

But that was exactly what happened to my family, the descendants of Paulina Hunter, when we were disenrolled from our tribe in what is supposed to be the more enlightened 21st century. So yes, contrary to what some people would have you believe, our civil rights were violated.

So if it is wrong for it to happen to blacks, then why not Indians. After all, aren’t we American citizens too?

Read why we need enforcement of ICRA (Indian Civil Rights Act)
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