Thursday, December 22, 2011

Sierra Star News OP/ED: The Loss of Chukchansi Citizenship is wrong

My Op/ed piece in the Sierra Star News:


I find it disturbing that in all the years we've had mass terminations of tribal citizenship, no politician has stood up for those Indians who have been harmed by their tribe.

When you give it a benign name like "disenrollment," it takes on the context of, say, losing membership in the PTA. That makes it simpler for a politician to take tribal money and say, "tribes can choose their own membership" than taking a closer look at what it really entails.

The U.S. Government can strip an American of citizenship for few reasons, here's one from US Code 1481:

7: Committing any act of treason against, or attempting by force to overthrow, or bearing arms against, the United States ... engaging in a conspiracy to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the government of the United States.

We are talking about treason or overthrowing the government. No disenrollees have threatened overthrow of their tribal government. No bearing arms against tribal councils. In Indian country, you can lose your citizenship for simply disagreeing with the tribal council.

Can you name one American stripped of their citizenship? How about American terrorists who advocate death to American and Sharia law?

On the Pechanga reservation in Temecula, Original Pechanga allottee descendents have had their citizenship taken away, along with voting rights, health care and the right to speak at meetings. Redding Rancheria terminated 25% of their tribe, including their first tribal chairman.

The same politicians who rightfully found the apartheid policy of sovereign country of South Africa abhorrent now side with tribes who are practicing the same apartheid in their own districts.

Politicians in California who were appalled over neighbor state Arizona's stricter immigration enforcement laws, going so far as to call for boycotting that state over 'possible' civil rights violations, are supporting tribes who have actually stripped voting rights, health care, per capita (now totaling $500 million), elder care and educational assistance.

They tell themselves, "well, it's only nine people," or "it's only 75 people." Yet how many does it have to be to make it wrong?

The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians took away citizenship to 50% of their tribal people. When is it wrong, or rather "wrong enough?" What if, say, the GOP got 50% of Democrats excluded? Would it be wrong? Of course it would.

Read the rest of the column: The Loss of Chukchansi Citizenship is Wrong
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