Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pala's BIG GAMBLE: LA Weekly Covers the Increasingly Sad Story Of Pala's Shame

"Will anyone come out here to the middle of nowhere?" many Pala members wondered when the casino was built in 2001, followed by a sprawling hotel, on loans of more than $200 million. It has since become one of Southern California's most profitable gaming palaces.

Tribe members have benefited: Today, each receives monthly payouts that add up to more than $150,000 per year, as well as free health care and free college. Members who reside on the reservation don't have to pay state income tax. Though some still live in run-down homes, parts of the reservation feel like a posh suburb, as luxury cars cruise past a gleaming sports complex and administration building. Minors receiving payments via a trust often are presented with huge checks when they come of age, so long as they graduate high school.

But with big money has come some big problems: Longtime members have been kicked out, resulting in bitter feuds about who should be considered a member of the tribe, who deserves the payouts and even what it means to be Native American.

While the Pala casino has finally allowed the tribe's members entree to the American dream, it also has turned neighbors against one another — with devastating consequences.

 Critics of the tribe's leadership say it's no coincidence that a huge swath of Pala's members have been dropped from the rolls in recent years. Less money coming in, they say, has caused the leadership to take desperate measures to maintain the status quo — a witch hunt resulting in the removal of about one-sixth of the tribe, for supposedly lacking sufficient Pala blood.
The leaders deny any connection between falling revenue and the disenrollments, but the tribe has been split into a two-tiered society: the haves and the have-nots. The two factions grew up together, went to school together and, in many cases, live practically side by side. The only difference is that some of them get $150,000 per year, and subsidized home loans, and free college.
The others get nothing.

READ THE REST of Pals’s Big Gamble

And read more on the sad state of affairs at the Pala Reservation:

Pala Disenrollments

Pala dispute

Pala disenrolled 162 members

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