The Los Angeles Times has finally caught wind of what is happening in California's Indian Gaming Country. THe link to the full story is at the end of this excerpt, we recommend that you SHARE the story on Facebook and join the comments.
The shameful disenrollments at Pala are in the news.
But now, renewed doubts about Britten's lineage are at the root of a divisive "blood quantum" dispute roiling the 1,000-member Pala Band of Mission Indians, formed by the fusion of the Cupeño and Luiseño bands.
At issue is whether Britten was a full-blooded Indian. OP: That issue was settled by the BIA decades ago.
The governing board of the Pala Band in the last year has "disenrolled" some 162 descendants of Britten, cutting them off from their monthly share of the tribe's profit from casino, hotel and other business ventures, about $7,500 a month, in addition to health insurance and other benefits.
The Pala dispute echoes those at other Indian tribes in California and elsewhere, where money has complicated disputes over identity, nationhood and personality conflicts, according to David Wilkins, professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota and a member of the Lumbee tribe in North Carolina.
"Somewhere, as tribes have tried to reconstruct their sense of nationhood, particularly in tribes with casino money, they hit upon disenrollment as a way to settle disputes over personality issues and money," Wilkins said.
The American Indian Movement estimates that upward of 3,000 tribal members from two dozen tribes in California and other states have been "disenrolled" in the last 15 years. "Tribes are being destroyed by it," Wilkins said.
Firms now offer DNA testing to prove Indian ancestry, while "disenrollment clubs" offer succor to those no longer welcome in their tribes. Angry websites collect accusations of betrayal.
Robert Smith, Pala's strong-willed chairman, is not moved by the appeals of those who have been disenrolled, nor by the dire assertions of Wilkins, nor by recommendations from Bureau of Indian Affairs officials to reverse the disenrollment decisions.
Smith said evidence shows Britten's father was a white man, not an Indian, and thus Britten and her progeny were not full-blooded Indian.
"This is not about money, this is about what's right," Smith said during an interview at the casino's food court, to the plink-plink of nearby slot machines. "I've heard all the arguments about Margarita Britten. All the old people knew: She was only half-Indian." OP: All the current people know, Robert Smith is a tyrant.
Read more about Pala Disenrollments
Learn more about tribal disenrollments in CALIFORNIA:
Redding Rancheria Disenrollment
Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians Disenrollment
Corrupt Tribal Councils