Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Erick Rhoan: Pala Disenrollment Saga Adds Another Chapter

Our friend Erick Rhoan has a post up on the disenrollment at Pala Reservation.

His blog is Strict Liability in Blog and I encourage you to visit.


After delving into the issues, here's Erick's thoughts:

Personally, I have never looked up to the BIA for much, if anything. I think it is a completely useless organization that should have been jettisoned into the administrative void along with the racist policies it has been enforcing since its inception. If you want a research project to do this weekend starting googling around and find out how many colossal screw-ups this agency has made over the years. Search for things like the “Cobell Settlement,” if you want a starting point. Or, for recent, local news, look up their lack of involvement in the Chukchansi/Picayune spectacle.

Another item to consider amidst all this is the reliance on blood quantums to determine who is or is not a Native American. This too is another relic that needs to be forgotten. Aside from the historical and sociological fact that ethnic bloodlines in a multi-cultural society will dilute, we need to stop and realize that Indian-ness is not contained in the blood. Being Indian is a culture, a religion, a way of life, a society, a hierarchy, and a family all balled into one. It is spiritual, familial, and societal. It is not a matter of simply being a fervent environmentalist or feeling strongly attached to nature. It is your life’s code. Just because you are 1/8th, 1/16th, 1/4th or whatever, means absolutely nothing. The more and more people cling to this useless yardstick to measure “culture,” the more it sounds like arguing for racial purity, and no one does that in this world anymore. And this is assuming that the higher the concentration of one ethnicity in your background leads you to be more “Indian” than the guy who’s only half. How many full-blood Indians have sat on tribal councils within Native America who have betrayed their own people? Why can’t conduct, attitude, and respect be just as much a measure of Indian identity than one’s blood quantum?

Now that the motion for the TRO has been denied, the plaintiffs in this case will have to wait for their appeal results from the BIA and I don’t know how long that takes. And in the meantime, their disenrollment will take effect, stripping them of their Native American identity, their monthly gaming allotment, their healthcare, and who knows what else. Even if the BIA recommends they be reinstated, the Pala tribe doesn’t have to obey it.

This is not the first time a tragedy like this has befallen an Indian family and, unfortunately, it will not be the last.

Write your Congressperson. This needs to stop.

48 comments:

smokeybear said...

Thanks, Erick. I brought up the same issue on "Blood Quantum" in a post here on our blog late last year. You have brought up the same points on diminishing "Blood Ratios" and the "Tribes" trying to hold on to this "Antiquated Reasoning." If, without change, the "Native American" will cease to exist, except for who the "Casino Indians" choose to be members. That is "Rediculous, and Unfounded, has to change for the good of true "Lineal Decendents". .."Eagle Eye."

Erick Rhoan said...

Thanks for the bump! Always appreciated.

As for the blood quantums: old habits die hard, especially bad ones. Indian Country would be better off without tethering membership requirements around fractions and instead, rely on something more substantial, like pure lineal descendancy, regardless of that person's Indian blood.

Anonymous said...

You would think that once you are a member of a tribe, enrolled with BIA that no one or anything could take that away from you. Just ban members after years of being enrolled? their grand parents enrolled and then the Casino's come into view with money. The power of tribal goverment nowdays should not have the right to disenroll members after BIA has approved their family years ago. That is not right! God is watching the bad people and good will win over evil. For Larry Echo Hawk, he did the right thing by getting out of the BIA. He favors the wrong natives. He let co workers do his job and did not research the paperwork before he signed his name. They are hiding something fishy in the BIA and rumors of under the table money. If a tribal member was enrolled before the tribe changed their constitution,
they should be protected by their native civil rights. The new rules should apply to new members not members already in for years in the past. Be fair not greedy!

Anonymous said...

...all valid point, angles, arguements...etc., but I have a hard time calling another "ndn" when they have blonde hair and blue eyes. I was raised by Native elders who spoke our traditional tounge, instilled pride and culture within me, who shared the horror stories of the "boarding school era", and you expect me to acknowledge people in my commuinity as "ndn" when they look 100% Arian?
I have a hard time with that concept. I'm not ignorant to recessive genes; someone who is 3/4 native can have lite skin and hair. I will give credence to the idea that blood quantum was intiated by the federal gov.(or whatever specific governing body) to lower our #s. However, it's 2012, I'm 26 and more than 1/4 California Indian, I've retained my traditional tounge and when my elders look into my face they see themselves. They see their father; their brother, their uncle; a sense of pride and continuity that someone without my physical features (someone less than sh*t I don't know 1/8??) wouldn't know because they're too far away from their Indian ancestors/ ancestor. I'm not ignorant, nor am I a bigot. I am however, a cultural preserver. Am I proposing a solution to blood quantum debate? Yes: marry Native/ procreate with Natives or be Washed out. This is the sentiment of hundreds if not thousands.

Erick Rhoan said...

That's going to be a harder argument to sell as we move through the years. I'm not so sure you can keep making that argument by the time we hit 2080, or some far-flung date in the future. It's a simple fact that cultures can die out, but still have some remnants that persist in the future.

For example, the Biblical Hittites are dead and gone, but they have descendants in the Middle East. There are no more Assyrians around, but they have descendants in the Persians, somewhat. Even modern day Persians are not the fabled "Aryans" they once were, not after the Mongol and Muslim incursions throughout the centuries.

The point is, if you want to preserve a culture by strictly limiting breeding partners you can do that so long as there is a large enough population base to do so. But Indian Country is probably not big enough to support that. In California, I barely know anyone who is full blooded Indian who doesn't live on a rancheria and/or is above 40 years of age. The rest of us, including myself, have diluted Indian ancestry.

That being said, there's more than one way to preserve a culture. I just don't know if the "I-Know-It-When-I-See-It" test for determining whether someone is: 1) Indian; and 2) an Indian who is practicing their culture is going to hold up. The eventual reality is that Native Americans will either perish or continue to survive in isolated pockets. Their culture cannot die so long as people are willing to preserve it. But what form that culture takes as we move through the years remains to be seen.

Anonymous said...

True, it will be a harder arguement to sell in another 80 yrs. However, if the same "token ideals" of which me and mine uphold are not voiced... that "arguement", could be even harder to pitch in a decade (give or take). What are we to do then? How are we to discern who is who? By a roll # your ggggrandmother had? I'm at a loss, I think we're all at a loss.
You are right, language can be taught, history can be shared. But the essence of who we are, our blood, it's preservation should be a unanimous unspoken consesus of importance, by those who value their Native heritage. At least, that's what I was taught.

Erick Rhoan said...

I believe the same thing, but I also believe that change is inevitable. That is not to say the cause is not worthwhile or impossible. The Native Americans survived Manifest Destiny and numerous indignities. I have no doubt that a cultures this stubborn will not be easily snuffed.

Anonymous said...

I think telling someone they are less Indian because of the amount of pigment in thier skin is obsurd and racist. My grandparents who were dark skin with black hair and my great grandmother who actually spoke our native language very well would agree with me. I think your elders did you a great disservice by teaching you hate and bigotry should be ashamed at the person, I use that term loosely, that you have become. Being native means loving,learning,and carrying on your culture to future generations so that that culture will not die out. Too bad that there are people like you around. It's hate like that tht is destroying the very fabric of the Indian societies. God help us all that do try to teach our children the right way. As long as people like you are still being bred.

Anonymous said...

...no, no, I have my "ego" under control. You're just upset because I touched on the core of the blood quantum issue, as I am sure you are affected by it. Maybe you should promote "native procreation", rather than baseless rants about whatever "lose" terms your hurt feelings could come up with. I really don't have to mention I'm not the only one who thinks the way I do. If I were, this discussion wouldn't even be a debate, or an issue for that matter.

Anonymous said...

I'm 26 and more than 1/4 California Indian, I've retained my traditional tounge and when my elders look into my face they see themselves.

(What movie did I see that line in)

shaaaaa

Anonymous said...

She-Nah-Sha

Anonymous said...

Baseless rants ? Are you saying they fight like a DA-HE-TIH-HI ?

Justiceforpaladisenrolled said...

So let me see if I interpreted your comment anonymous 11:07 you think it is Ok for pala to disenroll their members who are descendants of margarita brittaon who has been proven in a final decision after extensive research in 1989 amd a recommendation ( because bia no longer has authority to make final decision due to an obvious invalid constitution) again in 2012 because they may not look like an Indian because they may not have the skin color, eyes or hair of what you perceive all inians should have? Some of the disenrolleds parents were born and raised on the reservation and have talked and taught them about their heritage and they have been proud of their heritage.

Anonymous said...

ATSAH-BE-YAZ in a big valley can still fight good fight,...

Anonymous said...

@ justiceforpaladisenrolled


So let me get this straight, you expect me to answer a question that the Pala band of Indians couldn't come to a clear consensus on? Sorry, I'm not a Temecula Indian, nor am I privy to such information. But thank you for presenting a factual question.

Anonymous said...

For the 26 yr old that likes to look at his/herself in the mirror. Lmao. Little history lesson for you. A jackass in the 40s tried to push a true breed race. Guess what happened to him. Ethnic cleansing is not the route you might want to align yourself with. MY Indian heritage fought and might I add DeFEATED That moron. And yes my generation will FIGHT. And DEFEAT the morons like YOU. To defeat the ones from today. When you grow up and move out of your moms house. Then come talk. Otherwise stop looking at the Indian books on your moms bookshelf to learn native words that you spent the last two and a half hours rifling thru to find a couple native words that you just happened to know exactly how to spell with hyphens and all to make people believe you can actually speak it. I am litterally crying from laughter right now. Good luck with that ethnic cleansing thing you got goin A. H. Mark my words. The hammer has been drawin back. Watch out when it falls.

Anonymous said...

...no, sorry I'm (the 26 yr old) not posting those paticular "indian words", I'm guessing as I am not familiar with that dialect.

Anonymous said...

ATSAH-BE-YAZ means small eagle in navajo,...a great people ...so if any navajo members are here I said that with great respect for your people.....

DA-HE-TIH-HI is hummingbird...

She-nah-sha (may you walk in beauty)
learned by navajo friends not BOOKS.

Anonymous said...

All respect With the respect given.

Anonymous said...

BUT let me,give my two cents about pala,... HOW WEAK its ok if you want to start NOW with BLOOD quantum but why kick out any current members?

Anonymous said...

Let me add more, (well your part of us)just not enough,..

How does that work?

Oh thats my grandson but he's not part of the tribe because (he does not meet blood quantum).

I love him but...sorry

Erick Rhoan said...

As an aside, I find it odd seeing "Anonymous" battle back and forth with another "Anonymous." It threw me off at first.

smokeybear said...

Erick, Anonymous to Anonymous... "Its Seething." They make no sense, for "Birthright should be the "Final Distinction" of who is and who "Isn't." Documents from the turn of the "Century" bears "Witness to this. This "Proves Lineal Decent." Are they "Tethering" on arranged marriages that some cultures used to keep "Blood Lines" in check? In the real world that didn't wash. Reference "England," and too keep the "Blood Lines True." they married first cousins.and the like, and "Hemophiliacts" were "Created." That's extreme at best. But marrying into your "Tribe," only, isn't going happen. But "Blood Line" comes from "Birthright," and that is what matters "Most!"..."Eagle Eyes."

Anonymous said...

Must be half (blood)

Kialegee Tribal Town[26]
Miccosukee Tribe of Indians of Florida
Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, Mississippi
St. Croix Chippewa Indians of Wisconsin
White Mountain Apache Tribe, Arizona
Yomba Shoshone Tribe, Nevada[28]

Anonymous said...

Must be 1/4 (blood)

Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Indians, Oklahoma[26]
Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes, Oklahoma[26]
Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation, Washington
Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin [29]Wisconsin
Kickapoo Tribe of Oklahoma, Oklahoma[26]
Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma, Oklahoma[26]
Fort McDowell Yavapai Nation, Arizona
Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes, Montana
Navajo Nation, Arizona, Utah and New Mexico
Oneida Tribe of Indians, Wisconsin
Pascua Yaqui Tribe, Arizona
Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation, Kansas[30]
Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation, Wyoming[31]
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, North and South Dakota
United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, Oklahoma[26]
Utu Utu Gwaitu Paiute Tribe, California[32]
Yavapai-Prescott Tribe, Arizona
Blackfeet Tribe, Montana

'aamokat said...

The unfair thing about this whole thing is that this family does meet the requirements of the Pala tribe but the powers that be say they don't without proof.

So what are the diserollees to do when their tribe ignores their proof and kicks them out anyway?

smokeybear said...

And so that is were the "Trouble Lies." Pala refuses "Legal Documentation, and the B.I.A.'s recomention and their "Proof Thereof...."Eagle Eyes."

'aamokat said...

Erick Rhoan said...

"That's going to be a harder argument to sell as we move through the years. I'm not so sure you can keep making that argument by the time we hit 2080, or some far-flung date in the future. It's a simple fact that cultures can die out, but still have some remnants that persist in the future.

For example, the Biblical Hittites are dead and gone, but they have descendants in the Middle East. There are no more Assyrians around, but they have descendants in the Persians, somewhat. Even modern day Persians are not the fabled "Aryans" they once were, not after the Mongol and Muslim incursions throughout the centuries."

There can be arguments on both sides of this issue but consider that while there are lineal descendants of say, for example, the Hittites and the Assyrians still around, can we say that the cultures of those people are still with us?

I think the answer to that would be no.

However, how low of a blood quantium would modern day Jews have from the original Hebrews?

It would be safe to say that it would be very low however it is also safe to say that their culture lives on so it is correct to call them Jews while I don't think it would be the same for the remanants of the Hittites and the Assyrians.

So the people of our tribes, even those who don't have the so called features, can still pass on their culture.

During the holiday season I saw tribal members around town and I would say to them hengchish chaamna po'choxivol pi hengchish tawpash 'ipiit (Merry Christmas and Happy New Year) and most of them, including people who have the darker skin and the darker hair, would look at me with a blank expression as they didn't know what I said to them.

So does 'the look' automatically make them more of a tribal member than someone, even within their own family, who doesn't look the part as much?

Erick Rhoan said...

If you're asking me if the ethnic-looking tribal members, blank stare and all, are on equal footing with tribal members who look predominately European, then my answer is yes.

To use your Hebrew example: Jews come in all shapes and sizes. There's Israeli Jews, Persian Jews, Ethiopian Jews, Russian Jews, Slavic Jews, etc. Their culture has nothing to do with skin color, blood quantums, and apparently, language. They are just artificial barriers.

Similarly, no two Native Americans are alike. Culture is in the heart, in deeds, and in actions. It forms the basis for your morality and value systems. It is an intangible concept with tangible effects on the human mind, expressing itself through thoughts and actions. Things like skin color, blood quantums, high cheek bones, flat noses, brown eyes, and straight black hair is just excess baggage. Native American culture DOES NOT NEED THESE THINGS TO SURVIVE. The sooner people realize that then this obsession with blood quantums will die, as it should have done decades ago.

Anonymous said...

Native heart is what its all about. Its native love and compassion, its custom and tradition.

Anonymous said...

Very well said Eric and anonymous. I personally have the features but not the complection That I got from my dad. But the culture is deep in my heart. My whole life being told I was Indian. As I got older I researched and with that and stories from my relatives from the Rez I learned the ways of my culture and am very proud to call myself native American. Also I feel for all my Indian brothers and sisters from ALL tribes that are having thier culture. Heritage. Birthright stripped from them by greedy corrupt tribal dictators. Sovereignty was a great thing for the Indian tribes when the law was passed. Problem is. It protects the tribes. Not the individuals within the tribes who's civil rights are being stripped from them. And gives a blanket of security to corrupt tribal execs. I e maccaro. Smith and so on.

for ALL nations...for ALL chukchansi people said...

ignorance is everywhere...reminds me of when my youngest daughter got graded down on a project in third grade because she colored the indian's hair brown...the teacher said "no, annalise indians have BLACK hair and BROWN eyes!!!" she came home in tears, saying "mom, but my hair is brown and my eyes green..."

this was an (caucasian)educator, who should have known better...OUR people should DEFINITELY know better...however, this very ignorance has been repeated over and over at picayune in regards to everything from refusing to teach our language to those of the tribe who wished to learn, but were rejected as "not chukchansi ENOUGH" or "illegal aliens" by those teaching, to the very dismemberment of over a THOUSAND of our chukchansi people...think what horrific harm is being done to the psyche and hearts of our future generations, and the disrespect given to our ancestors and elders--many of whom lay down their very LIVES to protect our people and our culture...SHAME ON THOSE WHO COMMIT THIS GENOCIDE AGAINST SO MANY OF OUR INDIAN PEOPLE THROUGHOUT TURTLE ISLAND!!!

nickey said...

I hate the talk of blood quantum. The NDN nation is so few in numbers, that we need to recognize every drop of blood in each person. I've got the flat nose and long black hair but I love all my NDN people no matter the color of hair, skin or eyes they have.

Anonymous said...

Robert Smith is hiding behind the blood quantum issue, yet he did not disenroll all members with the same blood quantum. His wife is one of the descendants and her extended family has the same blood quantum. She and her family were extremely upset when they had a special meeting back in October, but where are they now, not upset that's for sure. It is all about greed and drugs and sex for Leroy Miranda, since he was busted propositioning a police officer at an adult bookstore, dressed as a transvestite. It is disgusting the men they have become, because at one time they were actually good for the people. Now they look like they are on their way to destroying the whole tribe. Rome was it's worst enemy, as too are they.

smokeybear said...

ERICK,
I'm going to ask your take on our situation at hand.."Or Should I Say Our De-lem-a?" Here we sit "On the outside looking in" with the "Casino Indians" using "Sovereighty" as their reaoning to "Disenroll, Banish, and hold a "Tribe" as "Hostage" because he didn't like the outcome of the election he lost. This goes against everything that is "Honest and Just!" Our "Civil Libertys" as "Leneal Decendants" are being "Trampled" with no regard for our "Legal Status" as "Members" of our respecive "Tribes." The "Casino Indians" realize that few of us have the "Capital" to fight the fight we need to "Fight," and the time to invest in this "Venture." That is where our "Problem" lies. I have asked, in a post above, for all "Oppressed Native American Tribes" to standfast and have a "Protest/Rally" with all on board. This is going to be "Difficult at best," but not "Impossible!" The "Blacks" had similar problems, and until the "Movement That Freed Them," so why can't we? This is not going to "Fix Itself!" The "Casino Indians" don't care that we have "Proof," and the "Government(Indian Affairs), well they refuse to act. They allow these "Tribes" to "Defile" the "Oppressed Indian" with out question, or intervention. Any thoughts on a "Protest/Rally" of "Epic Proportions?" We can no longer standby and do nothing, for that is what they want us to do, as the "Criminal Acts" continue...."Eagle Eyes."

Erick Rhoan said...

I've never been much for rallies and protests. I've always viewed them as inefficient. Plus, I've seen protests against tribal disenrollments before, and while it grabs a few local headlines, it never leads to any tangible change in tribal membership policies. And sadly, I've seen such protests backfire as the general public think all Indians are living the good life off the public dime and make vitriolic comments about how the poor, subsidized Indians need a "break" when John Q Public is paying out the nose in taxes. It may lead to the public questioning the need for tribal sovereignty, which all tribes need. And there's always the cookie-cutter rants revolving around the idea that Indian Gaming leads to: 1) higher crime; 2) higher gambling addiction; 3) traffic jams; and 4) public nuisances.

I think the more efficient route -- and I mean that lightly -- is to write your Congresspersons and advocate a change in law. I'm still surprised that the disenrolled Indians of California have not organized into a non-profit or PAC to advocate a change in law. I'm truly shocked that hasn't happened. Your membership would range into the 100s.

smokeybear said...

Erick,
We have "A.I.R.R.O., American Indian Rights and Resourses Organization, to speak for us. Now are you aware of the "United Nations On Human Rights," is meeting in Arizona at the end of this month?..."Eagle Eyes."

Erick Rhoan said...

Heard of AIRRO, but then again, I haven't "heard from" AIRRO, in that they must be doing something, but I have no clue what it is. I certainly don't see them in the news, but then maybe its a new organization that has just gotten started.

As for the UN thing, I've heard of the UN Declaration, but whether that will actually result in some tangible benefit to Indians (recognized and unrecognized), I don't know. Probably not. It's going to be ripped up and adapted to fit the American scheme if the Senate ever does ratify it. I don't know about the Arizona meeting, or who's running it.

Erick Rhoan said...

I checked their website. Their latest newsletter issue is from 2010 and their latest news update is from 2011. That's not a good look.

Anonymous said...

there are two pala guys who caused all this trouble for all the rest who have been disenrolled and one of them works at pechanga---so he sort of got what he ask for for his own pala family!! now ask to see a picture of the women in question (marg. brit.) and if it is the same picture i have seen your questions will all be answered.

Anonymous said...

The ones who caused this trouble are robert smith(straight up thief),leroy miranda(queer boy),dion perez(from cahuilla,posibly leroys secret lover),teresa nieto(from cahuilla).These are the ones behind all the problems in Pala

Anonymous said...

you are misinformed and have no idea what has gone on in the tribe. if you want to talk true trash i could give you a run down on these other two guys lives!! ugh that would take to long and would make your allegations look like baby stuff.

Anonymous said...

The ones responsible for the mess in Pala are Robert smith,leroy miranda,teresa nieto,dion perez,this whole mess and embarrassment has been created and brought on by these people! They have totally exceded their capacities as elected officials! They will answer for their actions!

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to the original 8 disenrolled? The last I heard they got a letter form the BIA stating they should be reinstated. Did Pala ever give them a final answer?

Anonymous said...

Pala was suppose to let the 8 people know if they would honor the BIAs recommendation with in 30 days. That time has come and gone. And nothing has been said. I wonder if pala quietly re-enrolled them. And told them to be quiet about it

Anonymous said...

They did not re-enroll the original eight. Believe me, they would not be quiet about this.

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Anonymous said...

Chukchansi disenrollment
http://www.sierrastar.com/2011/09/28/56549_chukchansi-issues-disenrollment.html?rh=1

It seems the Chukchansi casino has to be closed

http://www.indianz.com/IndianGaming/2014/028326.asp

If the casino closes-how will the chukchansi pays their bills?

If the traditional chukchansi are "disenrolled"-who will teach the coming generations their culture?