Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Chukchansi Destroys MORE Lives Adds 100 more to Disenrolled; BIA FAILS to Act

Mark Benjamin of the Fresno Bee continues to report on the despicable actions of the Chukchansi Indian of Coarsegold, who, for some reason think shrinking their tribe is a good thing. The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians is disenrolling tribe members -- about 100, according to some within the tribe. Tribe officials announced last week that they were thinning the tribe's membership but declined to state the total. 

Enrollment in the tribe means a stake in the profits of its Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino near Coarsegold -- from a few hundred dollars to nearly $1,000 a month. Former tribal council member Dora Jones said Monday that disenrollment hearings were held in December, but final decisions were delayed because of a leadership upheaval. Jones, fellow incumbent Morris Reid and two other members of their tribal council slate beat incumbents favoring disenrollment in a tribal election last December, just before the disenrollment hearings.

 That election resulted in a power struggle between competing councils that came to a head with a near-riot near the casino in February. In council appointments after the confrontation, the tribal council has grown more heavily pro-disenrollment while members of Jones' group were removed. The group represented by Reid and Jones has filed an appeal with the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs in an attempt to return to power, but the government has taken no action.

 In a written statement last week, the tribal council said it is following a membership audit done 12 years ago, which it said shows that people were invited into the tribe in the 1980s even though they lacked Chukchansi qualifications. The federal government was paying tribes more if they had larger memberships. As casinos were built and profits rolled in, some tribes began to disenroll to increase tribal members' shares. "During the audit, the tribe discovered individuals that did not meet the criteria for membership," the tribal council's statement said. "Although some individuals were not valid members themselves, or even of Indian descent, they held high positions within the Tribe." It has been determined that these individuals then allowed for others to be enrolled and receive benefits, the tribe's statement said.

 A spokeswoman for the tribe said last week that tribal leaders won't discuss their decision. In previous interviews, Chukchansi officials said they will pay for DNA tests to ensure legitimate enrollment. One of the people recently disenrolled was notified last week by certified letter. "It's a dig at you," said James Herr Jr., "telling you that you're not good enough." Herr, a tribal elder, said he was getting about $950 a month from the tribe. "It was nice getting a little more, but we don't need it," he said. "Some of those people were living on a fixed income and it may be the difference between having the lights on or not."

 Tamara Punkin, whose father was on the tribal council that brought the casino to the Chukchansi rancheria, said her family's petition was not done properly, resulting in their disenrollment. She said she went from "Being Chukchansi to nothing now." Jones, the former tribal council member, said the council isn't finished. Next, she said, it's going to seek to exclude allotments, which define areas within the tribe's traditional lands. About one-third of the roughly 20 allotments could be carved out of the tribe's historic boundaries, leaving another 200 to 300 members at risk of disenrollment.

 One tribal member, an elder from an allotment in danger of being excluded, said he expects to be disenrolled soon.

 He would not give his name because he worries about retribution by the council and its enrollment committee, which determines tribe membership. "If your allotment is not in a particular area you are out of the tribe," the tribal elder said. "I am pretty sure we are going to get it next." The issue is not tribal integrity, but greed among a few families that want to share in the tribe's casino revenue, he said. "They can kick me out," he said, "but they can't take my heritage away from me. I know what I am."

 More disenrollment will follow if the federal government takes no action, said Kenneth Hansen, an associate professor of political science at Fresno State with expertise in American Indian issues. "I think it's only getting worse because the BIA has given the council a blank check to run their tribe into the ground if that's what they want," he said.



Anonymous said...

Some of these Chukchansi are getting smacked in the face with KARMA.

Anonymous said...

Yea, karma came back to Joe Alberta:( and now Hector H., now they need to do the rightfull thing, which is to tell about allthe theift!!

pala.rez.bird said...

If this petition gets 25,000 signatures by September 15, 2012, the Obama Administration will issue an official response.

You can view and sign the petition here:


Here's some more information about this petition:

Enforce the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968. Protect citizens in Indian Country and hold tribal officials accountable.

Stop civil rights violations in Indian Country. Indian tribes have violated, and continue to violate the civil rights of their citizens. Indians have been denied the basic due process, equal protection, and other rights provided to any other citizen of the United States. Convene an oversight hearing regarding the enforcement of the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 ICRA. Congress failed to include an effective enforcement mechanism within the ICRA that would hold tribal officials accountable for committing the prohibited acts. Tribal officials abuse the doctrine of sovereign immunity to escape prosecution for violating laws intended to protect the victims of their actions. Hold tribal officials accountable for committing the prohibited acts. Enforce the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968.

pala.rez.bird said...

Please help to get this petition signed. Copy what's written above and paste it into an email and send it to everyone you know. We need 150 signatures to get this going. Once it gets exposure it has a chance to get the 25,000, but for now all we need is 150. Please help. Thanks.

mouse32812 said...

Another interesting article but is anyone really going to do anything about Chukchansi or any of the other Federally created tribes who are stealing from the people? The United States already owns the land, thanks to the Tillie Hardwick settlement. In California only Hupa and Tule own their land and are the only two real sovereign tribes. All the others are puppets of the United States government. The United States likes what's going on, if they didn't they would have stepped in long ago, as they did at Table Mountain Rancheria and appoint their own puppet leader! You guys keep running to the Democratic party leaders for help when you should not! Do any of you know who created the so-called champion of the Native people? Andrew Jackson, the fist United States President who initiated ethnic cleansing and forced relocation of Native American tribes! Do you really think people in this party are really working for your independence and best interest? Think people! You guys have got to learn how to stand on your own.

Anonymous said...

THANK U !! Mouse.. Ppl need to stop US govt involvement regardless the logic.

smokeybear said...


Yours is the first encounter with a "Corrupt and Criminal Tribal" leader that "Refuses" to accept a legal election result in which he loses, and the "Government(Indian Affairs) refuses to act "Responsibly" and stop all this "Foolishness." So, in essence, this will happen again in other "Tribes" that realize that they can get away with similar actions because no on stopped "Lewis!" This is "Dangerous Ground" being exibited without "Intervention." If "Lewis" is left to his own devises, the "Distruction" of the "Chuckcansi Nation" is "Eminant!" I really can't understand why the B.I.A won't step in, knowing full well this could be a "Stone rolling down a hill and the "Momentum" will be "Unstoppable" if not acted upon. This can not be "Understated," for all of "Indian Country" is watching to see how this will be handled. If "Lewis" isn't stopped "NOW," the "Erosion" of "Indian Country" is at hand. "Mark My Words!"...Eagle Eyes."

This is a repost to Nicky, for the war torn Chukchansi Indian Nation still fighting for "Justice"
from the "Corrupt and Criminal Lewis Cartel." You can not give up, and I know you haven't, but you need to get that S.O.B.!....
Eagle Eyes."