|Mark Lucero(l) and Wayne Mong, the event organizer in front of the Pechanga Resort and Casino|
Indian tribal leaders from across the nation gathered at Pechanga Resort & Casino on Thursday for an annual conference dealing with tribal government and sovereignty.
Outside, more than 30 protesters called attention to the practice of "disenrollment," the expulsion of tribal members. Many of the pickets had been disenrolled from the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians.
Hosted by the American Indian Resources Institute, a group advocating tribal sovereignty, the Native Leadership Forum took place in the Eagle's Nest Room on the top floor of the resort hotel
Disenrollment, Trudell said, was not on the agenda. OP: But Mr. Trudell was WELL aware of this protest, letters to him went unanswered. I believe that is akin to turning up the radio so you can't hear your busted engine . But it was at the heart of the demonstration on the sidewalk across from the casino.
Protesters waved signs such as "Indian Civil Rights Now!" and "Temecula Indian Rights Violated."
Pechanga tribal officials did not respond to a request for comment. Over the years, Pechanga and other tribes have disenrolled members on the grounds that they aren't descended from original tribal families. OP: GROUNDS that included DNA testing of over 99.7% match, which is more than they got for Osama Bin Laden.
While tribes have said they have a right to determine their membership, critics say greed is driving the disenrollments. Pechanga members receive a six-figure annual payment of casino profits, medical care and other benefits.
Louise Appel, of Murrieta, who was disenrolled in 2006, said she now has to spend $4,300 a month caring for her disabled daughter. OP: This will soon fall on the California taxpayers, as Louise is moving through her funds. In fact many of the tribespeople that Pechanga has exterminated now are on the government dole. YOU are now paying for what Pechanga has done.
"It hurt," she said. "I thought they were my friends."
Protesters said Pechanga violated its own rules and due process when disenrolling members. They added that tribes use sovereignty as a shield to justify their actions.
Manuel Rios, of Riverside, said his application to join the Pechanga tribe has been held up for 14 years. OP: TWO families was disenrolled, because their members on the enrollment committee questioned WHY this family was not enrolled. ALL their paperwork was properly filled out and timely. One enrollment committee member, FRANCES MIRANDA was heard to say, "there are too many of them".
"We need Washington to do something about this," he said
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