Thursday, June 16, 2011

Letter to Larry Echo Hawk: Requesting Status Review of IBIA 08-109-A

We have waited FIVE YEARS for a response.    We expect an answer

Larry Echo Hawk Via USPS and facsimile
Assistant Secretary- Indian Affairs
United States Department of the Interior
1849 C Street NW, Room 4160
Washington, DC 20240

Re: Status of Review of Docket No. IBIA 08-109-A

Dear Assistant Secretary Echo Hawk:
I submit this letter requesting the status of your review of the issue listed above. I am a party to the action, and I received a notice, dated August 12, 2010, from the IBIA that they were forwarding this issue to your office for review (see attached letter).
I and others submitted our original request for intervention to the Bureau of Indian Affairs in April 30 of 2006. We requested that the Bureau of Indian Affairs refuse to approve, recognize, and deem null and void the Pechanga Band’s upcoming tribal elections which are scheduled for July 15, 2006. We also request that the BIA intervene in this matter to ensure additional violations of tribal and federal law do not occur and to hold elections in which all members who were enrolled as of July 18, 2005 would be allowed to participate.
We based our request on the following: (1) the Pechanga Band’s Tribal Council denied members of due process in violation of the Indian Civil Rights Act; (2) the Pechanga Band’s Tribal Council denied members of the equal protection of tribal laws in violation of the Indian Civil Rights Act; (3) the Pechanga Band’s Tribal Council stripped members of certain rights, including the Constitutionally protected right to participate in tribal elections; (4) the Pechanga Band’s Tribal Council overrode the General Membership’s Constitutionally and Supreme Court sustained right to determine the Tribe’s membership; and (5) the Tribal Council's actions would taint the outcome of the tribal elections.

In support of our request to intervene, we submitted documentation supporting our claims of gross violations of tribal and federal laws, including the Indian Civil Rights Act, (“ICRA“), 25 U.S.C. Section 1302 et. seq, which stripped many of us of the rights and privileges provided to tribal citizens.

In our original request and subsequent filings with the BIA and IBIA, we referenced several IBIA decisions which provided for BIA intervention in situations which were similar to our own. Specifically,
1. In United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians in Oklahoma v. Muskogee Area Director, 22 IBIA 75 (1992), the Interior Board of Indian Appeals (“IBIA”) affirmed the BIA's authority and right to decline to recognize tribal elections which are tainted by Indian Civil Rights Act ("ICRA") violations involving enrollment.

2. Greendeer v. Minneapolis Area Director, 22 IBIA 91 (1992) declared:

"Whatever accommodations must be made to arrive at a viable interpretation of the constitutional language, a short circuiting of the rights of the individuals (by the Tribe) cannot be one of them. As a matter of Federal law, i.e., the Indian Civil Rights Act (ICRA) 25 U.S.C. Section 1302 (1968), Indian Tribes are required to afford their members due process."

3. Wells v. Acting Aberdeen Area Director, 24 IBIA 142, 145 (1993), the IBIA stated: “Both the Federal Courts and the Board have recognized that there are times when, despite the lack of specific statutory authority, the Bureau must make determinations concerning intra-tribal disputes, most often those disputes
involving tribal elections.”
We also referenced an action of the General Membership of the Tribe, the supreme governing authority, to determine its membership and halt disenrollment of tribal citizens enrolled as of the day of the legislations’ passage. The Tribal Council subsequently determined that the tribal law did not apply to all tribal citizens and approved actions to disenroll a large percentage of tribal members just prior to regularly scheduled elections for Tribal Council.
It has been nearly 5 years since our initial request to the BIA was filed. Since then we have waited patiently and submitted additional information as requested. We now respectfully request a status update on the IBIA’s action to forward this issue to your office for review.
We eagerly await your response to this request.

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