Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The shooting, in an area surrounded by the Pechanga Indian Reservation, that must be accessed by the Pechanga guarded gate, but not reservation property happened on July 27. This was a family dispute that resulted in the death on longtime Pechanga reservation zip code residents.
The Temecula Patch has the rest of the story
About 60 employees of the Silver Buffalo Casino say they were supposed to get paychecks last Friday. But they haven't gotten those checks.
They say the casino gave them each $200 in cash Monday, but that doesn't come close to covering what is owed to them.
Donnie Cabannis says he's chairman of Oklahoma's Apache Tribe, and that the casino workers are getting stiffed because his rivals have stolen money that was intended for them.
"There's a lot of corruption going on in our casinos now, and we need to take control of that," he said Tuesday.
However, Tribal Administrator Ernest Redbird says Cabannis is no longer the Chairman. And he says Cabannis' claim that money has been stolen is not true.
"I think um there's been miscommunication of money being transferred from one bank to another," he said.
Late Tuesday, we were told those casino workers would finally get their paychecks at 2 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
Monday, July 29, 2013
Judge PROHIBITS Nancy Ayala from Taking Chukchansi Casino Revenue. Corrupt Lewis Faction takes the Lead over Corrupt Ayala.
U.S. Congress passed the Ute Termination Act on August 27, 1954, 59 years ago.
Utah Congressional members won’t listen to pleas to repeal this genocidal act. Why? When the Act was passed to strip 490 so-called “Mixed Blood” Uinta Utes of their tribal identity, non-Indians swooped in and used hook and crook to take their “shares” that have now extremely valuable and those non-Indians have become such powerful force, the “Ute Distribution Corporation”, that Congress is scared to repeal this racist law. The “shares” had the words, “void if transferred or sold” within a certain time.
BIA knew these interlopers were cheating the unsophisticated exterminated Uintas of the only way they and their families could get ahead in the world after Congress stripped them of their identities and did nothing. In effect, the non-Indian outsiders took the shares and now comprise a large segment of the Ute Distribution Corporation thereby themselves becoming “Uinta Utes”.
They are rich and wealthy while many of the 490 Mixed Blood Uinta Utes who were conned out of their Ute Distribution Corporation shares live in poverty and die off daily wondering why Congress won’t repeal this shameful Act. Lawsuit after lawsuit has been filed yet the powerful prevail and do not want our own genocidal law to get out on the international level.
We obtained a list of UDC shareholders 7 years back and even the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints holds these extremely valuable UDC shares. UDC operates in secrecy and no one in public knows who sells and trades these shares. Funny, the Act also intended to terminate the entire Ute Tribe and that has not happened.
So, if the entire Ute Tribe has not been terminated then the act has not been completed and is void. Countdown to 30 Days of Our Nation’s Shame – Repeal the Ute Termination and Partition Act – Our own “Door of No Return.” Am I the only Indigenous Lawyer in this Nation who cares about this massive festering historical injustice in our own State of Utah?
Check out the website: www.undeclaredutes.net
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Word coming from the Pechanga Reservation in Temecula that SHOTS have been fired. Police helicopters are over the scene. Sheriff's Deputies are on scene.
UPDATE: Three stories of what happened, including a suicide.... Stay tuned.
UPDATE II: A woman on the reservation, a non member resident apparently SHOT her brother... Stay tuned.
UPDATE III: It appears that some Morales family members are being let through.....
UPDATE IV: Calls to Pechanga Resort (951) 693-1819 gets a response that they haven't heard of anything TODAY??
UPDATE VI: The Press Enterprise FINALLY reports the death at almost 9 p.m. They are reporting the death as being in the "unincorporated area of Temecula" at 12000 Pechanga Rd. Which, acccording to Google MAPS..is ON THE RESERVATION. Now, why wouldn't they report it as such.
UPDATE VII: The latest: A 63-year-old Temecula-area man is behind bars in connection with the shooting death of his brother-in-law, sheriff's officials say.
Nelson Virgil Allen was arrested at 11:50 a.m. Saturday, July 27, along the 12700 block of Pechanga Road and booked for investigation of murder, jail records show. Allen’s bail is $1 million.
The shooting was reported about 11 a.m. along Pechanga Road where Allen and his brother-in-law – 42-year-old Donald Piper – lived on the same piece of property, Sgt. Tyson Voss said in a written statement.
“The property is a large parcel with several houses surrounded by the Pechanga Reservation, but is not associated with the reservation,” according to the statement. “Piper and Allen were brothers-in-law and were engaged in an ongoing family dispute.”
Piper died at the scene.
??'s: Do they access the property via the reservation? 2. Did the Tribal Rangers respond?
Thursday, July 25, 2013
"We are glad that this payment was able to be made to satisfy the Tribe's debt obligation," said Chairman Lewis. "We continue to follow the legal process and abide by the court order to protect the best interests of the Tribe. Thanks to the court order, we can ensure that Nancy Ayala is no longer able to unlawfully take money from the Tribal Government without paying our debts. Now that the Tribe's debt obligation is satisfied, we can continue our work to restore order to the Tribal government."
Attorneys for the Lewis Council also filed actions in the New York Supreme Court against Nancy Ayala, Tracey Brechbuehl, Karen Wynn, and Charles Sargosa for conduct in violation of the Federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") and the Tribe's indenture agreement. The cross-claims allege that Ayala led a racketeering scheme that seized profits from the Chukchansi Casino and fraudulently distributed money to members of the Ramirez and Wyatt families, which she claims are the only legitimate members of the Tribe. According to the court filing, Ayala installed a security force consisting of gang members and convicted felons that intimidated anyone who questioned her actions.
The cross-claims allege how Ayala illegally attempted to remove all members of the Tribal Council except herself using a petition signed by just 17 individuals. With a valid petition requiring signatures from 30 percent of the tribal membership, Ayala effectively attempted to disenroll hundreds of Tribal members to ensure that only her and her family members would benefit from the Tribe's revenue. "We will do everything necessary to ensure that justice is served," stated Chairman Lewis. "This story gets worse and worse as we learn more about what Ayala and her small group of supporters has been doing for the past few months." Ayala, Brechbuehl, Wynn and Sargosa are all required to appear in New York in August and September to answer questions, under the penalty of perjury, regarding the allegations
Wednesday, July 24, 2013
Pechanga's Lobbyist IETAN Consulting's Strategic Partner Akin Gump, Insults Congressman Grijalva on Behalf of their Client.
The long-running and costly dispute has not only spilled over onto Capitol Hill but into the federal courts. Akin Gump has been paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Gila River tribe for its lobbying work, including nearly $1.2 million this year alone, lobbying disclosure records show. The Tohono O’odham tribes has also spent big money on its own hired guns.
During a May 16 hearing in a Natural Resources subcommittee, Norris testified in opposition to the latest version of the Franks bill.
As Norris was testifying, Meggesto sent out this tweet: “Resisting urge to tweet about a pair of high school buddies, one is lying under oath and the other is on the dais enabling him #Indianlands.”
Meggesto’s tweet, without mentioning them by name, was clearly referring to Grijalva and Norris.
Grijalva was outraged by Meggesto’s tweet — since deleted — and has sought a public apology, so far to no avail.
Now Grijalva — whose leadership PAC received a $5,000 contribution from the Tohono O’odham tribe in August 2012 — wants Reps. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) and Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.), the chairman and ranking member of Natural Resources, to act.
GET THE POPCORN
Thursday, July 18, 2013
APARTHEID as described by the dictionary is:
2. any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.
Pechanga is doing just that, determining that families with historical ties to the origins of the reservation are ‘no longer pure’ in their eyes. They may be Temecula Indian, but “they aren’t Pechanga.” Even though the expert hired BY Pechanga proved that we were.
Here are some similarities to the Apartheid system you are familiar with:
South Africa - Strategists in the National Party invented apartheid as a means to cement their control over the economic and social system.
Pechanga - Splinter Group invented disenrollment as a means to control membership during a time of new economic growth (Casino).
South Africa - Initially, aim of the apartheid was to maintain white domination while extending racial separation.
Pechanga - Initially, aim of the Splinter Group was to dominate the tribe while instilling fear in other members.
South Africa - Africans living in the homelands needed passports to enter South Africa: aliens in their own country.
Pechanga - Descendants of original allottees that have been disenrolled have to verify their reasons for entering their own land. An entire family of Tosabols have been denied access to use the roads to go to their property because of their banishment. Their crime? Nothing, they were never charged, just banished.
The reservation and allotments was set aside for the Temecula Band and village of Indians not just Pechanga, the self described subset, which includes people with NO Temecula Indian blood, much like the Boers of South Africa.
Pechanga now has a group living on the reservation that have:
• Lost the right to vote
• Lost their rights to healthcare provided by the tribal government.
• Their children can no longer attend tribal schools
• They can no longer be buried in the reservation cemetery with their relatives.
• Have no access to tribal health center
• Are not protected by the Tribal Rangers.
And now, the tribe is in the process of stealing the allottee's water rights,.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Eric Holder Investigates Civil Rights Claim for Trayvon Martin, Yet Ignores the Abuses of Indian Tribes Against THOUSANDS of Native Americans
It's easy to understand why an African American Attorney General would stand in front of the NAACP and proclaim his division will look into an issue that was settled by the FBI. It's harder to understand why AG HOLDER would turn his back on THOUSAND of aggrieved Native Americans with out so much as a look-see.
We AGAIN ask ERIC HOLDER to task his Civil Rights Division to investigate gross civil and human rights abuses.
In 2009, we sent hundreds of letters to Attorney General Holder:
Dear Attorney General Holder:
I respectfully submit this letter urging the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division to commence a full-scale investigation into the gross civil and human rights violations which have infected California Indian Country
Throughout California Indian Country, tribal officials have taken actions which have denied and/or stripped thousands of California Indians of their membership status and denied them access to federal benefits and programs in the areas of housing, education, health, voting and public works assistance. In some instances, the illegal actions occurred decades ago, however, there has been a marked increase since Indian Gaming was approved and later expanded in California.
Tribal leaders justify their right to systematically deny civil rights and expel their citizens under the guise of tribal sovereignty. Tribal leaders have routinely committed acts to deny Indian individuals due process; equal protection of tribal, state, and federal laws; property interest rights; and voting rights. Theses actions have been carried out in gross violation of laws enacted to guarantee and protect the rights of the individual Indian.
We can no longer allow those who oppose upholding the civil and voting rights of thousands of California Indians to claim that this is a sovereignty issue that rests solely within the domain of tribal courts and tribal law. Few California Tribes actually have tribal courts. Therefore, in most cases, the tribal government officials responsible for the violations of law are the very same people who pass judgment as to whether or not laws have been violated - they are the judge and jury all rolled into one.
The United States has a trust responsibility to the thousands of California Indians whose civil and voting rights have been infringed upon. And, in recognition of the special status of California Indians, Congress passed California Enrollment Act of 1928 in which certain rights were guaranteed to California Indians and their lineal descendents. 25 U.S.C. § 651.
Unfortunately, the Bureau of Indian Affairs has failed to exercise this responsibility and has allowed tribal leaders to continue to commit violations unabated. Therefore, I believe that the DOJ has the legal and moral responsibility to investigate and prosecute such violations of basic rights.
Civil rights abuse at Pechanga
James Riley, Ryan Robinson Begin Serving Sentences for $4 million Theft From Pechanga; No Charges Yet for Pechanga Stealing $400 MILLION
James William Riley, 49, of Murrieta, and Ryan Jay Robinson, 42, of Temecula, the casino’s former chief financial officer, were convicted April 29 after their second trial. They were sentenced earlier this month to two years, 8 months in prison.
The men had been accused of bilking Pechanga of more than $4 million in an insurance overcharging scam from 2006 to 2007 and were indicted by a grand jury in 2010.
The Pechanga.Tribe has stolen over $400 million in per capita and benefits from over 25% of their tribal members since the 2004 and 2006 disenrollments.
Our founding father Dr.Lehman Brightman is currently living with the side effects of the massive stroke he suffered in July 22nd 2011 and is under the care of the Contra Costa county's negligent nursing home, "Kindred" of Walnut Creek.
The Brightman's would most appreciate your attendance at a celebration honoring OUR Organization's 45th year anniversary! Please come celebrate with us this Coming Saturday July 20th 2013 3pm @ Kindred 1224 Rossmoor Parkway Walnut Creek, CA 94595-2501 for a small get together to honor UNA's work in our community.
The actual date of our 45th anniversary is/was on June 10, 1968 but due to the inconvenient timing of/AND ILLEGAL eviction of our home of 26 years, we were unable to celebrate properly due to the tragic and extremely stressful loss and move.
Now that we, UNA, are almost we would still greatly appreciate your Contributions in completely relocated in our new permanent home here in Sacramento, it was only recently pointed out to me by a fellow UNA Member that we missed a HUGE milestone.
Please forgive the short notice and we do hope you can attend.
The official founding date of UNA is June 10, 1968.
United Native Americans, Inc. (or U.N.A.) was formed in 1968 in San Francisco, California to promote the General Welfare of Native Americans. There are no paid staff or officers in U.N.A. and all work is donated. U.N.A. is not funded and exists solely on the support derived from membership dues, the sale of U.N.A. Merchandise, Tee Shirts, buttons, bumper stickers, and Posters, plus the few donations that have been received.
U.N.A was founded by Indians for Indians and is controlled by Indians.
U.N.A. has been Labeled a "Militant" organization because of it's Aggressive Stand it has taken and because of the slogan it stresses--"INDIAN POWER", which is defined as Self-Determination, the Right to Run your Own Affairs and to Direct your Own Destiny, which is something Indian People Definitely Need. U.N.A is Definitely an Action Organization and if this means "Militant" then we are Militants. We as Native Americans, in order to perpetuate our Heritage, Exercise Constructive Leadership, and to perfect a Native American Organization which will Respond to the Needs of Native Americans.
U.N.A. Strives to Improve Indian Image.
U.N.A. has been one of the Strongest advocates to improve the "Negative" image of Indian People, and has been critical of the "Movie Industry" for their Exploitation of Indians, and the Stereotype they have created of the "drunken, inarticulate, savage." Academic Revolutionary; Lehman Brightman Founded & Coordinated The First Native Americans Studies Program in The United States at UC Berkeley.
Wednesday, July 10, 2013
Cheryl Schmit of Stand Up for California Files Referendum Against Approval of North Fork Rancheria; If Chukchansi had ALL their Tribal Members back, they'd have a larger opposing force.
Cheryl Schmit, director of the gambling watchdog group Stand Up for California, filed a referendum with the Attorney General's Office today that seeks to reverse lawmakers' approval of a casino for the North Fork Rancheria of Mono Indians. The casino is more controversial than most in Indian country because it would be built along Highway 99, more than 35 miles from the mountainous village where tribal members live.
Opponents consider the project an "off reservation" casino, and say approval will set a precedent for similar developments around the state near freeways and urban communities. Supporters say the North Fork tribe historically migrated between the casino land on the Valley floor and the tribe's current home in the mountains near Yosemite, and that few other tribes have a similar situation.
Gov. Jerry Brown supports the project as an economic development opportunity for the impoverished tribe, and labor unions lobbied hard for it. Many other gambling tribes oppose the casino because it would create competition for their business.
Lawmakers narrowly ratified the North Fork compact last month and the governor signed it last week.
For Schmit's referendum overturning the compact to reach the 2014 ballot, her group must gather 504,760 voter signatures in 90 days.
I bet Chukchansi will get their people out trying to get signatures. IMAGINE if they had ALL their tribal members back in the tribe, what they could do? Now, their shrinking tribe has little manpower for an issue like this
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Professional poker player Phil Ivey is set to be the frontman for a joint venture between the Pala Band of Mission Indians and former bwin.party CEO Jim Ryan, pokerfuse PRO has learned.
The new entity, Pala Interactive, plans to offer online poker and casino games in California upon regulation within the state. And though the deal is currently limited to potential offerings in California, the agreement could be extended beyond the state at a later date.
Pala Interactive is slated to use software provided by Realtime Edge Software (RTE), a company that lists bwin.party, GTECH, RocketFrog and ClubWPT among its clients.
The company Pala Interactive LLC was registered in February 2013, public records show. Susan Basinger, an Attorney who lists the Pala Band of Mission Indians as a previous client, is the registered agent for the business. The domain PalaInteractive.com was registered in January.
Phil Ivey, a sponsored pro at Full Tilt prior to Black Friday, is today the face of Ivey Poker. The new venture acquired poker training site LeggoPoker, built an impressive roster of pros, and this week launched a social poker app on Facebook. The California deal is an unrelated brand agreement.
IVEY was accused of cheating a London Casino:
Mayfair club Crockfords says professional poker player Phil Ivey, dubbed "the Tiger Woods of poker," cheated playing punto banco - a form of bacarrat favoured by James Bond.
He is said to have pulled off the scam in four sessions over the August Bank Holiday weekend last year.
In one of the biggest legal battle in casino history, the 185-year-old casino is fighting a legal demand by Mr Ivey that it should pay out.
The 37-year-old from Las Vegas insists he won fair and square and that the casino should honour its commitment.
But in legal papers lodged at the High Court, Crockfords claimed Mr Ivey had spotted asymmetrical designs on the back of cards caused by cutting errors.
It says he then used "superstition" to stack the cards in the pack to press home his advantage and bet increasing amounts over two days.
Friday, July 5, 2013
@USIndianAffairs @TheJusticeDept @Interior @IndianCommittee should all be followed and tweeted to.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Nancy Ayala Faction LOSES in Court: CEASE Violating Indenture She is Told. Lewis to Oversee Chukchansi Expenditures.
A New York Court today ordered former Tribal Council member Nancy Ayala to immediately cease violating the Chukchansi Tribe’s Indenture Agreement and begin depositing casino revenue in the Tribe’s Rabobank account. The court also ordered that an audit be performed by Ernst & Young, a big four national accounting firm, to track the cash and other disbursements that have occurred during the time of Ayala’s control.
Although the court explicitly did not take sides in the dispute, the court Order authorized Chairman Reggie Lewis to work with casino management to ensure that the Indenture is not further violated by Ayala. Chairman Lewis will have the opportunity to review the casino’s financial records each week and to approve all disbursements prior to their being made including payroll checks to casino employees and payables to casino vendors. Under the Order, casino management will report to both Chairman Reggie Lewis and Nancy Ayala, and must provide Chairman Lewis with a list each week of casino revenue and expenses to be paid.
“We have been urging the court to get involved to stop Nancy Ayala from violating the Tribe’s Indenture and this Order allows us to do that,” said Chairman Lewis. “We look forward to working with casino management to ensure that all casino employees are qualified for their positions and all casino expenses are paid in a timely manner. We will immediately follow the court Order and begin to oversee the activity at Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino to protect the best interests of the Chukchansi Tribe.”
The court Order requires that the money deposited in the Rabobank account only be used for casino expenses, putting an end to Nancy Ayala’s practice of taking bags of cash from the casino
and issuing vouchers to her family and friends that could only be cashed at the casino cage.
Under the court Order, casino revenue may not be used to support Tribal government or Tribal
Gaming Commission operations or expenses by either Chairman Reggie Lewis or Nancy Ayala.
Chairman Lewis and the Tribal Council will be in constant communication with the Court to
insure that the provisions of the court’s Order are fully complied with by casino management
who have a fiduciary duty to perform their duties according to professional standards.
Chairman Lewis stated, “We are working as quickly as possible to fund government programs
for the benefit of all 900 plus tribal members now that the court has intervened to stop conduct
that has been so harmful to our Tribe.”
Monday, July 1, 2013
FACEPALM: Tulsa Using the "Trail of Tears" in Bid for OLYMPICS? Indian Removal + SLAVES Dragged As Property is NOT a Selling Point.
The city of Tulsa, Oklahoma is preparing to bid on the 2024 Summer Olympic games, according to a report from the New York Times. Should the city actually submit a bid, it would be a wild longshot: as the Times explains, the Olympic workforce amounts to half of the city’s population, the city has a third of the hotel rooms required by the International Olympic Committee, and the estimated cost is equivalent to half of Oklahoma’s state budget.
Plus, using the Olympics to market a city, as organizers hope to do, isn’t usually a good economic idea.
But the most absurd part of Tulsa’s Olympic bid amazingly isn’t the bid itself — it’s that organizers apparently think incorporating the Trail of Tears on the Olympic torch route as a “nod to the state’s American Indian history” is a good idea:
In a nod to the state’s American Indian history, the Olympic torch would be led along the solemn Trail of Tears, not far from where field hockey would be played in Tahlequah.
A little history for Tulsa’s organizers: the Trail of Tears is the result of one of the most pernicious laws in American history — the Indian Removal Act of 1830 — and it is a marker of policies that nearly eradicated an entire indigenous population of people. The death toll on the trail ranges from the government’s record of 400 to others that estimate more than 4,000 died on the march. OP::Not to mention that the Cherokee's DRAGGED their slaves along this trail too.
It doesn’t merit a “nod” from Olympic organizers, especially not when mega sporting events like the Olympics have a tendency to displace poor and indigenous populations to make room for facilities or to shield them from media and tourist attention. What it merits is education and awareness about the fact that large segments of the Native population are still struggling with the after-effects of government policies slanted against them, even more than a century and a half after they walked that trail.
That’s probably too much to ask in a sports world that casually accepts a professional football franchise, based in the nation’s capital no less, that uses a slur as its name, and a commissioner who thinks that name “stands for strength, courage, pride, and respect.” It’s a world where a baseball team uses a cartoonish caricature as its logo and thinks its acceptable to drape it in an American flag to mark holidays. It’s a world where efforts to change names that use Native American imagery at the professional, college, and high school level are met with cries of “tradition,” “honor,” and the “tyranny of political correctness.”
Using the Trail of Tears as part of an Olympic bid is outrageous, but it’s also just an extension of the thoughtlessness the sports world has applied to Native Americans for decades.
READ THIS ARTICLE on The Cherokee's SLAVE HISTORY:
Tribal Membership Revocations: Dialing For Dollars? Yes, it's about the MONEY, not about Correcting Membership
Over the past several years, there have been a series of publicized tribal enrollment revocations of enrolled members - including former tribal leaders - and their entire families. While this phenomenon was extremely rare in the past, it is becoming increasingly and disturbingly common.
Many in Indian Country openly trace this activity from the date on which the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act became law in 1988 and tribes too often spending large amounts of their casino revenues in per capita payments to tribal members. In some cases, as tribal populations grew, revenue distributions were accordingly reduced to continue payments to all members. In other cases, the economic downturn that dates back to 2007-08 led to reduced casino revenues and, in turn, reduced individual payments. Still, many have linked dollar reductions in per capita payments to the increase in expelling members.
These facts are well reported and discussed below in some detail. The casual reader will ask how this could be possible, or even legal. Various legal challenges to disenrollments have been unsuccessful, whether they directly challenge the tribes themselves or seek to compel the Bureau of Indian Affairs ("BIA") to intervene.
Tribal Challenges usually are made in the face of tribal sovereign immunity and are routinely dismissed. While the federal Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 ostensibly offers legal protections to the victims of enrollment revocations, the reality is that the law is toothless and is not the vehicle through which individual Indians have gained much of anything in the way of rights protection.
BIA Challenges are the alternative, and they involve asking the BIA to intervene to protect the rights of those being banished from their tribal membership, but that agency officially takes the position that the issue of tribal membership is purely a tribal matter and not something in which the federal government will - or even should - become involved.
It is worth noting that the BIA has interceded in enrollment disputes in some unusual cases, the most noteworthy of which is probably that of the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians of Amador County, California. The Buena Vista is a recognized tribe that until a few years ago consisted of one adult named Donnamarie Potts. For reasons that are not altogether clear, the BIA examined Ms. Potts's status as a descendant to the single Indian family formerly residing on the Buena Vista Rancheria and concluded that she has no ancestral tie to the land and, accordingly, was not a lawful member of the recognized Rancheria tribe. Indeed, the BIA concluded that a second adult named Rhonda Morningstar Pope was the sole adult descendant of the resident Indian family and thus the only person entitled to lawful tribal membership in the Rancheria tribe. As a result of that BIA administrative action, Potts was removed and Pope's family has subsequently constituted the entire tribal membership.
It is also worth noting that the Rancheria tribe has been attempting to develop a casino on the former Rancheria lands for some 10 years but without success as of this date.
Possible Connections Between Tribal Casino Revenues and Membership Revocations
While there are a number of tribes that have disenrolled members, these writers are not aware of any non-gaming tribes that have done so. Disenrollments are reality, but an established connection between reduced casino revenue distributions and disenrollments is somewhat hypothetical. Nonetheless, examining the facts is enlightening.
For the purposes of this article, it is useful to examine the three tribes currently embroiled in "enrollment reductions" that have received the greatest attention. They are (1) the Pala Band of Mission Indians of California, (2) the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians of California, and (3) the Nooksack Tribe of Washington. They all have operated tribal casinos for a number of years. They all have been making per capita payments to tribal members. They all have disenrolled hundreds of members over the past several years. And they all apparently began disenrolling members shortly after experiencing downturns in casino cash flow that finance the members' distributions.
The question is whether there is a cause-and-effect relationship between revenue declines and revocations of membership. The known facts speak for themselves, as does the high level of acrimony now infecting each tribe. However, in each case, the tribes are relying on conclusions as to enrollment entitlement that the BIA has the expertise and experience to determine, but declines to do so. The professional historians and genealogists at the Department of the Interior could resolve the disputes with finality, just as they did at the Buena Vista Rancheria. Thus far, they have elected to do nothing, leaving tribes in chaos and disenrolled members in distress.
Pala Band of Mission Indians
The Pala Indian Reservation is in Southern California, and it houses the Pala Casino which opened in 2001. The casino has been immensely successful, to the point that each tribal member currently receives about $150,000 in per capita payments annually from gaming revenues, as well as housing subsidies, health care, and educational benefits. When the casino's revenues dropped in 2012, the Tribe's per capita payments dropped by $500 per month, and the membership grew disenchanted with the decline in each member's income. The drop in revenue resulted in financial pressure on members who relied on the payments, with the result that a long-simmering membership dispute flared into open hostility and ultimately a massive disenrollment revoking the membership of one-sixth of the Tribe's population.
The Tribe's membership rules require at least 1/16 Pala ancestry. Such "blood quantum" membership rules necessarily lead to an evershrinking tribal membership as members frequently marry outside the tribe. The dispute centered on a single woman named Margarita Britten, who is an ancestor of all of the disenrolled members. The Pala Executive Committee determined on its own that Britten's father was white and not Pala, meaning that all members tracing their Pala ancestry solely to Britten as a great-great-grandparent went from 1/16 to 1/32 Pala blood and no longer qualified for membership. With that decision, more than 160 Pala members were disenrolled, an action that cut off per capita payments, as well as access to health care and all other tribal benefits. Tensions continue to run high on the reservation, with the disenrolled claiming the decision was made solely to prop up per capita payments, while members not affected respond that the disenrollment was an overdue resolution of a preexisting problem.
As for appeals, the Pala leadership took care of that by terminating what might have been a venue for the ousted members to seek judicial relief. In California, tribes may voluntarily settle disputes in the Intertribal Court of Southern California, a tribal "circuit court" providing a neutral forum for appeals of tribal decisions. The Pala Executive Committee voted to withdraw from that court before enacting the disenrollments, so the decision was never subject to review in that court.
The Pala enrollment case was closed before it even was ripe for hearing in that court.
Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians
In Northern California's Madera County, the Chukchansi Indians operate Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino, a popular and profitable operation conveniently located on a major gateway route to Yosemite National Park. While the Chukchansi per capita payments are small, they are supplemented by tribal payments covering utility and food bills, as well as academic tuition.
Chukchansi has reportedly disenrolled at least 400 members in the past five years, reducing the total membership to less than 1,000. The acrimony over the financial situation has grown so toxic that three separate factions are struggling for control of the tribe after a disputed election and continuing disenrollments.
Last year, then Tribal Council Chairman Reggie Lewis and his supporters voted to disenroll dozens of tribe members. Subsequently, Lewis lost his reelection to Morris Reid in December 2012, but he contested the results on the basis that Reid was ineligible to run. Later that same month, in a chaotic tribal council meeting, Lewis refused to seat the new members, announced that he would remain Chairman until a new election was held, and changed the locks on the tribal government offices. In February, a "tribal referendum" elected Council member Nancy Ayala as Chair and removed Lewis from the Council. Supporters of Reid broke into the tribal offices and refused to leave. Lewis's supporters responded by cutting power to the building and throwing a smoldering log and bear spray inside to forcibly eject them. The Madera County Sheriff observed the activity but did not act, citing a lack of jurisdiction. On the following day, the scene erupted into a violent melee, prompting the Sheriff to intervene along with more than 100 officers from various law enforcement agencies.
Since then, the Tribe has remained in turmoil. In March, the casino's bank froze the Tribe's gaming revenue funds due to an inability to determine rightful control over the account, and in the process halted bond payments and put the Tribe in danger of default on its $300 million obligation to lenders. In May, the BIA rejected grant proposals filed by Reid on the basis that he was not a rightful representative of the Chukchansi Tribal Council. An April tribal referendum reinstated Lewis and removed Ayala. However, in June, the BIA administratively recognized Ayala as Chairperson and Lewis as Vice Chairman, although the two continued to wage their very public dispute. Ayala sought an injunction in federal court to cut off Lewis's access to the bank account and force the bank to continue to pay bondholders, but the federal judge did not intervene, citing a lack of jurisdiction over the matter. It remains to be seen how the painful dispute will end.
In the latest development, a Madera County Judge cited a specific tribal waiver of sovereign immunity and ordered the County Sheriff to enter the Chukchansi casino and physically remove cash to pay a former casino manager owed $725,000 under a settlement of a suit resulting from his termination before his contract expired. Ayala's faction has vowed to fight the "till tap," and no per capita payments are currently being distributed.
Nooksack Indian Tribe
In Washington State, the 2,000-member Nooksack Indian Tribe is near the Canadian border, almost 100 miles north of Seattle. In February, six of the eight members of the Tribal Council, including the Chairman, voted to commence disenrollment proceedings against 306 Nooksack members, including the two tribal council members who did not vote in favor of the action.
The Nooksack disenrollees are descendants of a woman named Annie George. Tribal membership rules require that members either (1) trace ancestry to those appearing on a 1942 tribal census, or those who received allotments of tribal land, or (2) prove that they possess 1/4 Indian blood and any degree of Nooksack ancestry. George's name did not appear on either list, and her descendants must go before the Tribal Council and present evidence of their claim. The disenrollees appealed the Tribal Council's decision to the Nooksack Tribal Court, asking for an injunction to the disenrollment, but the Chief Judge denied the injunction citing the Tribe's sovereign immunity from suit and deferring to the Tribal Council's broad authority over membership matters.
Shortly after voting to disenroll the 306 members, the Council voted to initiate an election to amend the Nooksack Constitution to "close a loophole" and remove the second path to Nooksack membership. This change clearly would further obstruct the disenrollees' claims. After the BIA approved the election, the two disenrolled Tribal Council members sought to enjoin the election in federal court, but the Judge declined to stop the election citing the lack of "applicable law" making it unlawful for the Nooksack Tribe to define its membership by race or ancestry. The Constitutional amendment went to a vote of the entire Nooksack membership, the outcome of which has not been announced as of this date.