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.READ THE REST of Pals’s Big Gamble
And read more on the sad state of affairs at the Pala Reservation: