Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tribal Disenrollment An Example of BOTTOM of the BARREL Thinking.

Cedric Sunray has a good take on TRIBAL DISENROLLMENT

Rhetoric posited by various leadership factions of tribes nationally attest to removing people (disenrollment) for the reasons that they are dually enrolled with another tribe, that they lack a certain blood quantum, that their ancestors are “not really of this particular tribe” or my favorite, that they were fraudulently or mistakenly enrolled.

The first justification, dual enrollment, is absurd. I don’t see any tribes attempting to revoke the American citizenship of their tribal members/citizens, yet they have no problem in saying that they can’t be a member of another sovereign nation which happens to be indigenous as well. You would think that if these tribal leaders were so proud of their “Indianness” that they would preference dual enrollment/citizenship/membership with another indigenous nation prior to even allowing citizenship with the United States. Dividing people into pieces makes little sense, especially in Indian Country. There are many citizens of the United States who hold dual citizenship with other countries.

Learn More on Disenrollment, Ethnic Cleansing in Indian Gaming Country at these Links:
Gaming Revenue Blamed for Disenrollment
disenrollment is paper Genocide
CA Tribal Cleansing
Tribal terrorism
TRIBAL TERRORISM includes Banishment
Nooksack Disenrollment

The blood quantum issue is even more irrelevant. There are many tribes here in Oklahoma who herald their “inclusiveness” due to their lineal descendant requirement as opposed to strict blood quantum standards. Some of these tribes, for instance, attempted to use this supposed “inclusivity” as proof that they have no prejudice during their attempted removals of the Indian Freedmen population.

The reality is that non-indigenous perceptions of blood are still the determiner, whether they are requiring high blood quantum or not. This eliminates adopted children who are community raised, long-term intermarried spouses who have lived and loved in the community for many years and who have children, grandchildren, and even great-grandchildren within the community, those of other Indian tribes and their descendants who for circumstantial reasons found refuge in other Indian communities ages ago, individuals from the tribe who may be born of a tribal woman when the tribe requires patrilineal descent, individuals from the tribe born of a tribal man when the tribe requires matrilineal descent, children raised in the community who are the biological offspring of an intermarried individual who had married or partnered into the tribe after their birth, Freedmen descendants who either accurately or erroneously were placed on rolls not delineating blood, yet whose ancestors slaved in the fields for years of those who were, and other individuals who have become culturally and socially integrated into the community over the years, but do not share the same DNA with those who claim them.

The blood issue departs from traditional norms and has reduced tribal nation inclusion to as opposed to direct involvement, familial connection, and “paid the price with you”, a prerequisite of any Indian community traditionally.

The next removal is based on the supposed belief that the enrolled individuals descend from Indians, but not the “right” Indians. This is typically the play by tribal leaders who cannot refute Indian ancestry, but still need to remove the various families and individuals. So now their ancestors are said to have moved into the community from another Indian community many generations prior and thus they are not able to retain enrollment in the present day. This is simply low and petty and does nothing but reduce the intellectual capacity of the community, not only in losing brilliant minds, but in showing the ignorance of those who pushed the disenrollment issue in the first place.

The “fraud and mistaken enrollment” justification, however, is indeed my favorite. If a new administration dislikes those who came before them, suddenly those enrolled under the previous administration were “fraudulently or mistakenly enrolled." Anyone who needs to be eliminated for their opposition to various leaders or who made someone’s aunt’s friend’s cousin upset is found to have been “fraudulently or mistakenly enrolled."

Since the leadership controls the tribal court, if there is even one, the result is virtually always the same. Enrollment files mysteriously disappear, original documents float away from tribal archives, and other unethical ways are devised by seated administrations or tribal employees to erase entire families from records.

All of these immoral and divisive actions are protected under the guise of “sovereignty”. This is dangerous. Nobody is safe in the current environment as the removal of even fluent speaking members of various tribes has shown. Fluent speakers being removed? What possible justification could ever be concocted to justify the removal of fluent speakers? Let me guess, they are not cultural enough? Please. It has all become out of control and embarrassing. Indian Country is becoming a caricature of itself. “Sovereign” tribal governments running wild.

Taiaiake Alfred (Mohawk) wrote in the preface to his second edition of Peace, Power, and Righteousness: An Indigenous Manifesto:
“I came to learn and appreciate the views of those Native people who looked critically at what was being achieved through ‘Aboriginal self-government’ or ‘tribal sovereignty’ and saw the movement as vacuous and devoid of indigenous culture or any spiritual connection to ancestral teachings. In this view, Natives gaining control of governing structures is not enough to allow us to decolonize. In fact, without a cultural grounding, self-government becomes a kind of Trojan horse for capitalism, consumerism, and selfish individualism.”

There is a simplistic way of course to remedy this situation which goes beyond the expulsion from national Indian organizations and boycotts myself and others have written about previously. The simplistic course is solidarity. Solidarity doesn’t take money or capacity. Solidarity requires other tribal members/citizens to disenroll themselves when others are disenrolled.

Reduce those who have instigated these actions to becoming the leftover, powerless minority. Reduce their territory to the block or so where they reside in the community. If they want the tribal office, give it to them. They and their fifteen friends can rule a people less empire. Outcast those who attempted to outcast others. If the day ever comes where individuals in my own tribe attempt to accomplish the removal of a single individual from our tribal roll, they won’t stand alone. Alongside them will stand me and my family with shredded enrollment cards at our feet. Fortunately, I believe my people have more dignity than to engage in such an act.

It isn’t the reality that I am blood member and legally enrolled member of my tribe that makes me a member of my tribe. It is my over two decades of direct involvement in my tribe and the love I show for our culture and people that define this identity. No card can ever give me that or take that away. It is a remainder of life designation for me and a forever designation for my children and their descendants. No wayward tribal council or unethical human being can recreate one’s history and reality.

When ALL tribal members/citizens realize this, then they will have the confidence to practice solidarity and support ALL those who are disrespected with the attempt at paper genocide that disenrollment represents.

The federal government “allowing” tribes the “right” to determine their own membership or disenroll their own membership has no negative impact on the federal government in comparison to the gain the federal government receives from its allowance.

Disenrollment keeps tribes stratified and supportive of colonial ideas of who constitutes Indian. Disenrollment reduces fiduciary responsibilities of the federal government to Indian tribes by reducing numbers of tribal members/citizens. In knowing this it is simple to understand that anyone engaging or supporting the disenrollment of others is simply a pawn.

I think to one disenrollment issue a few years back where a 12 year old was removed from a tribe’s roll after a dispute, which had nothing to do with enrollment, between his grandmother and another woman working in the enrollment office.

In an effort to “get even” with the grandmother she engaged in supposed extensive research on the grandmother which showed she was actually 7/8 Indian as opposed to full blood and thus her grandson did not now meet the enrollment requirements for membership/citizenship. The boy who was raised in the community was legally excommunicated.

Yes, that is the zero sum game and bottom of the barrel thinking disenrollment has brought to Indian Country.

Cedric Sunray (MOWA Choctaw) is a full-time leadership teacher in the Oklahoma City Public Schools and student at the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He can be reached at


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

thank you for sharing this article, rick, it's a good one...cedric sunray has been an unwavering supporter of those who have been disenrolled from their tribes...a huge "thank you" to him as well, for sharing his views as well as his continued support...

Anonymous said...

Good article. Dishonoring the ancestors is what it really is. Any tribe supporting these tribes are supporting the demise of sovereignty.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing the Truth. Disrespecting our ancestors who suffered before us, and some elders alive today is unacceptable but is taking place. I'm still praying that the greedy people today will look at themselves and ask "do I really belong more than others?"

Anonymous said...

I agree on these fraudulent disenrollments but you need criteria for enrollment or it opens it up for anyone regardless of heritage to that tribe. It has been quoted by the B.I.A. that is tribes inherent right to choose it member and I agree with this. This is why a tribe has a constitution and bylaws and in these constitutions and bylaws they address and set criteria for enrollment and disenrollment. The tribe votes on these laws in a tribal meeting and the tribal government is to follow and in force it. This is where the trouble stars you have tribal government officials like in Pechanga or Pala that because of sovereignty they don’t have to follow their constitution or bylaws and do what they want and anyone that point this out is either disenrolled or threaten with disenrollment.
Most tribal constitutions state that you can’t be enrolled in another tribe. Now I never really thought of this issue and I have been in rolled all my life up un till my disenrollment but I don’t see this as a issue because no matter what tribe or reservation you come from your government benefits and B.I.A. benefits are there they double if you are from to tribes un less you looking at casino money. Blood quantum some tribes have this in their constitution I don’t say this is right or wrong but I see this as hearting them in the long run especially if the quantum is from only one tribe and not any Indian tribe some tribe have lineal descent in its place. Ancestry you most have proof of ancestry this is the bases your family line to the tribe and again this is in most tribal constitutions. As far as addressing fraudulent documentation to in roll in a tribe well this is a criminal act. First you have false documentation that will have to be forged from a government archive or forged or false B.I.A. documentation both a criminal act.

Anonymous said...

Oct 23 2014: thank you you are absolutely right on all sides. Unfortunately it gets hard to prove these false documents making it an easy criminal act. And also makes it easy for these same criminals to cut out true members leaving the tribes in the mess they are in now. The government should be the ones held responsible for what has been allowed to happen. But the government hides behind the word sovereignty, they don't care who makes a mess they don't want to clean it up and if they have to they are gonna do the quickest easiest job they can usually meaning they allow criminals to be criminals.

Anonymous said...

Tribal Nations ( like the weak Temecula blood members are the blame) for letting others rape them and destroy the Temecula Indian Nation.

Anonymous said...

This is no club, I am sorry if your white or from another tribe. You are the problem , and why pechanga is screwed up.

White Buffalo said...

You know I do not like being called weak. As you think we just let them do this you are wrong. The fact is we had and still do not have any power to back us up. The tribe has all of the cards. The only thing we could have done was illegal and stupid. Since you think we were weak what do you think we should have done? Should we have physically attacked them and then gone to jail. That kind of thing backfires because they become the victims of people who have no self control.

Anonymous said...

I just saw the idiot Macarro in a new commercial....he has his phony Indian tan makeup on, but he forgot to do part of his neck....he is standing in an empty field trying to make it look like he lives on the res....he has his dumb turquoise bolo tie on, like he did when he was pretending to be a poor Indian n the old commercials....what a douche. He doesn't want more gambling might cut into his and his wife's huge monthly checks. Why should anyone listen to this phony chief who destroyed his own tribe by lies?

Anonymous said...

The government can be held responsible. if you have documentation showing the B.I.A. has used for enrollment prepossess or blood quantum that is falls or forged then they have accomplished a criminal act and need to be investigated by the DOJ.

Anonymous said...

Well it looks like the NIGC is the only one who could bring a dirty tribe to an end?

DOJ worthless.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

The people who have been disenrolled are not to blame for losing their tribal membership. They are not weak, they did not commit any crime against their tribe, they did not submit false or forged documents or attempt to deceive their tribe in any way. They were disenrolled because their tribal leaders wanted to remove opposition; because tribal members wanted fewer people to share the money with; and because of long standing feuds between families. In short disenrollment is about money and power, no more no less.

The BIA is a branch of the Federal Government and cannot be sued or brought to trial except under the Administrative Protection Act. Individual employees of the BIA can be sued, but it is difficult to do because most cases will be dismissed if the individual was acting in their capacity as an agency employee.

The BIA has no jurisdiction over tribal membership unless there is a provision within the tribe's governing document that gives the BIA jurisdiction. Otherwise the BIA cannot interfere and will not interfere. Also the current Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs, Kevin Washburn, has made it very clear that he has a policy of non-interference in tribal matters.

So telling disenrollees to go to the DOJ and ask for an investigation of the BIA regarding the use of false or forged documents for enrollment purposes will not accomplish anything. The DOJ will not investigate because it is not a federal crime and it is not a matter under their jurisdiction. Also in such matters the burden of proof is on the plaintiff and the disenrollees would have to prove that using the documents in question is a violation of the APA. The BIA would only have to prove that they were acting reasonably and in accordance with their regulations.

Reporting violations of the NIGC might be a path to action, though it is likely to have no impact on disenrollment. The NIGC cannot tell a tribe to reinstate disenrollees but they can close a casino as we have seen. They can also impose rather large fines.

This whole mess is really showing how awful matters can get when greedy tribal leaders decide that they are more entitled to revenue than tribal members, and are willing to break tribal law, their vows of office, brandish weapons, seize possession of tribal assets and thumb their noses at local, state, and federal law enforcement because they believe themselves to be sovereign.

Anonymous said...

well chuknasty fought and got physical and you see the outcome?

Other tribes , well boo hoo.

Anonymous said...

Reinstatement_Restitution you are saying that in the case of Irene Scarce that worked in the Riverside B.I.A. falsified documentation on her mother and took an allotment of an another family then was caught falsifying her blood quantum by the B.I.A. supervisor and not fired or brought up on charges. or Mr. Fletcher that was the supervisor that changed CDIB cards with is illegal and help with advice in Santa Rosa to disenroll. The DOJ has no jurisdiction to investigate criminal acts because it is a branch of the government.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

BIA oversight comes from the Office of the Inspector General of the Department of the Interior. The Inspector General would investigate such allegations of wrongdoing in the BIA. If there was a crime of forgery or fraud as you suggest, the Inspector General should be notified and evidence presented to substantiate the claim.

The Inspector General would then assess the results of the investigation and whether or not a criminal act was committed. The problem is that what you are describing might not be a crime. There has to be a violation of a law, and I bet there have been thousands of incidents where BIA employees tampered with records. It is illegal to knowingly submit a forged or falsified document to a Federal Agency, but I believe that only applies to individuals outside the Agency.

The BIA also has its own internal legal department and though I haven't done the research, I bet not many BIA employees have ever been brought up on charges. Crimes against Indians don't matter much to the DOJ anyway. Indians are supposed to police themselves except for violent or major crimes. Fraud and forgery committed by Indians against Indians are normally not prosecuted because of sovereign immunity.

Anonymous said...

So if you work for the B.I.A. you have card blank to commit fraud and forge documentation to enroll and increase your blood Quantum because it is beneath the DOJ to look in to criminal act unless you kill someone.

Anonymous said...

What it boils down to in indian country is indians are dumb and can't manage thier own affairs without help. That's the way I see it. Greed conquers all because they are too stupid to manage themselves.

Anonymous said...

I would say that applies to everywhere. it happens in the government and they get busted by the F.B.I. it happens in big businesses and they get bust by the law enforcement. The different is in Indian country they are shielded by sovereignty and the governments lack to enforce civil rights for inadvisable Indians.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

Wait a second. Indians have been treated as second class citizens ever since our land was stolen from us so the invaders could use our resources. We didn't get the advantages in education, health care, diet, and housing. We got the land no one else wanted that we couldn't even make a living off of, and were forced to take handouts to survive. Our language and culture was stamped out, and we were herded onto reservations and kept separate from the rest of the country. Calling us dumb doesn't address the cultural differences that made Indians value the passing of tradition, the reverence of ancestors, and the connection with the earth over career choices in a society that discriminated against us.

My dad joined the service and moved us off the reservation so I got a decent education, but getting called chief and redskin and dumb Indian is not a pleasant experience. Indians do need assistance to become self governing. They are used to getting cheated and burned, and having some jerk from the BIA treat them like children. Tribal gaming could be the solution if there weren't corrupt lawyers and federal employees who take advantage of unsophisticated Indians by playing on their fear of extinction.

Just like any ethnic group there are some smart Indians and some dumb ones. There are some kind and generous Indians, and some greedy and evil Indians. Painting all Indians with the same brush is called racism. Instead put the blame where it belongs.

There are plenty of Indians working hard to help their people, and trying to adapt ancient culture to current conditions. Don't lump all Indians together. Each tribe is a nation unto itself. And calling us dumb for getting victimized by those who are familiar with the system does nothing to improve matters. We are going to get more sophisticated if we can scrape off the scum of the evil tribal leaders and start working for the betterment of our people.