Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Interview with Native American Activist Emilio Reyes OnTribal Disenrollment

I'm lucky enough to be friends with Emilio Reyes, who has done some excellent work in our archives in support of San Pasqual and he has found critical evidence on Pechanga and Pala.  Here, he gives his interview as research for a university project that many of us are involved with.  PLEASE read, PLEASE share and PLEASE comment.

Kill the Indian save the man has now become disenroll us and make us disappear” – Emilio Reyes

Interview with Native American Activist Emilio Reyes 

Interview Questions from Dayna Barrios Research on Disenrollment among 
Native Nations in Central and Northern California

1. What are your thoughts on current tribal membership criteria for Native Nations in California?

In 1978 the Supreme Court ruled that the federal government played no enforcement role over tribal governments in the case of Santa Clara Pueblo v Martinez. Therefore existing tribes can create a membership criteria to determine eligibility based on their tribe’s constitutions. Some tribes do implement the United States constitution to their tribal’s constitution. In some cases, tribes require to be a certain Indian blood degree, while others don’t have a blood degree requirement and some tribes as long as you can proof you are a direct descent from their base roll, you would be eligible for membership of the tribe. Since blood quantum or Indian blood degree was created by the American federal government to help individuals, assimilate and to qualify for federal services, it shouldn’t be used in any tribe’s constitution. My way of thinking is based in ancestry. Blood quantum is a white way to make you and your descendants disappear. Being 1/16 or 1/32 will not make you less Indian or less descendant. Anyone should be eligible for tribal membership as long as the individual can proof their genealogy to the tribe’s base roll as long as the base roll is reasonable and acceptable by its members. 

2. What kind of experiences have you had with disenrollment? 

At first I thought I was the only one who had incorrect information on the 1928 California enrollment application. Then after time I started hearing the same story for many other individuals, then I started tracing families to verify this information. Today, tribes know that the 1928 California Indian applications are inaccurate therefore cannot be reliable or be used as a base roll. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has openly admitted that the 1928 applications cannot be used as form of a base roll to determine tribal membership. Today in days, many tribes such as Pechanga, San Pasqual, Pala, ETC use the 1928 application of an individual ancestor against their own members. So I started helping families, and started comparing their information, and started seeing the patterns. 
Individuals were getting disenrolled from their tribes and getting kicked out because of one error in the 1928 California Indian Judgment Roll. In 1928, Fred Baker’s document that relates to the “Instructions to applicants,” allowed to leave information blank or even write unknown on the 1928 California Indian application if your ancestor wasn’t sure on the information requested. Today this is used against tribal members to disenroll. 
If I were to trace every tribal leader I can guarantee there is at least one thing wrong in their family history including blood quantum or something that could be easily disenroll them for just one error. Hundreds, and thousands today lack on baptism records because of “fires” or in some cases, Indian ancestors who did not entered the missions so their baptism was not recorded. In some cases, some Indians were listed as “gente de razon“ on their baptism record which was a category generally used to designate non-Indians in the Spanish period.  It was a problematic label even those persons who were half-Indian were typically identified as “gente de razon.” by the Spanish, which would make an individual non-Indian. Tribes who are familiar with this history take advantage of this Mission/BIA mistakes to disenroll members and use anything they can against their real heritage. Others are getting disenrolled for having their ancestors live off reservation lands. But you cannot blame them, in the early 1900s the federal government provided minimal help financially to tribal members so in order to survive you had to leave the reservation and try to assimilate. It wasn’t until after 1928 in the Meriam report that Lewis Meriam provided a report on the conditions across Indian country and advised the Department of Interior to put more money into Native American reservations and some did returned but some still preferred to stay out a reservation. 

3. What are your personal thoughts on disenrollment? 

Tribal disenrollment is because of Casino profits. Before the 1st casino opened in California after California V Cabazon Band of Mission Indians in 1987 disenrollment was not an issue. In fact most traditional Indians were against blood quantum and against the experiments the federal government tried to do to natives to determine blood quantum. Our ancestors fought very hard to keep everything traditional ways so that these corrupted tribal leaders change everything into the white way. Reality is, the more citizens they disenroll, the more per capita they get into their pockets. Simple

4. What kind of effects do you think disenrollment has on the individual who has been disenrolled? 

It’s a cultural genocide. It’s a termination of your Indian ways, your language, and your way of living. You lose your allotment, your place in the reservation, you cannot vote, you practically have no say in tribal meetings. It is also a way to have our people assimilate into the white culture, to forget about heritage and live non-traditional and white ways. When the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 was created to “protect” Natives in reality it offered no protection to our people, in fact, there is no punishment to anyone who violates our Indian civil rights. Other than losing your per capita you lose everything else including not eligible for tribal services as a federally recognized tribal member, so you are practically not recognized by the Federal Government or your tribe to be an “Indian.” 

5. What are some positive and negative aspects of disenrollment

In a perfect world, disenrollment should not be an option. Once a member is a member he/she should be a member for life. Being a member is because of ancestry not because of blood quantum or any other “criteria.”

6. What kind of activism have you done in regards to disenrollment?

When I noticed how many individuals were affected by disenrollment I opened up a Facebook page (Disenrollment) and just waited to see how many people would follow. After just 2 months, I had close to 5k followers. Which made me aware that many individuals were affected with disenrollment or had an interest in this cultural genocide. I constantly receive messages and I try to help as much as I can and guide individuals the right path to get answers to their questions. I do visit frequently the National Archives and help individuals find missing links of their family history and I also help in the area they need assistance to validate their claim as eligible for tribal membership. All my work has been voluntary with no pay. I have also had the privilege to help San Pasqual descendants with the last couple protests at the San Pasqual Reservation and the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Riverside. Because of my past experience in other protests and twitter storms. I created a twitter storm on tribal genocide and started bringing awareness to congress and other individuals that Natives Lives DO matter and that disenrollment should not be happening to our people. So I created the hashtag #stoptribalgenocide which I constantly use on Facebook and Twitter hoping to bring more awareness to the public and also hoping everyone would support this good cause. 

7. What would you like to see done in regards to disenrollment?  

Since the Indian Citizenship Act of 1924, American Indians became citizens of the United States of America and under the US constitution, Bill of Rights, federal laws and tribal laws, we are all entitled for a fair due process. Even though sovereignty protects a tribe, Congress can waive a tribe’s immunity whenever a valid reason is in place. When a tribe disenrolls, Congress must waive the tribe’s immunity and hear their cases by a special committee and determine if a valid reason exists for disenrollment. In such case, this should be heard by other people to avoid conflict of interest possibly by a non-Indian Committee who have no interest in this matter. Ideally, this committee should be created by people such as historians, genealogists, who are no conflict of interest to the individual who is in the process of being disenrolled. The BIA must not get involved and the tribe should not make the decision but this special committee should present their findings to a higher authority for approval or disapproval such as the Senate on Indian Affairs or the Secretary of Interior with no recommendation needed from the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The Bureau of Indian Affairs has been always a conflict of interest in any disenrollment matter, it hasn’t worked in the past and it will not keep working in the future. 

8. Should tribes make changes to prevent disenrollment? If so, what steps can they take?

Even though many tribes adopt the ICRA into their tribal constitutions, some still act outside their constitution and they do this because sovereignty “protects the tribe.” Because of the government to government relationship the US needs make a compact with every tribe where if the constitution is violated, tribes should pay penalties fees and/or have sovereignty terminated for a time period. Since most tribes disenroll because of casino profits, the US government should immediately shut down the casino in such case a claim is made where the tribe is acting outside their constitution, and have the DOJ investigate. And if the IRS and the FBI must get involved, they should do so without fear of violating sovereignty. 

9. If you could give disenrolled members words of advice, what would you say?

Our ancestors made it this far for us to be illegally remove from the tribal rolls. Never give up, if you know you belong, you fight, until you win. Assimilation is still in process, and believe it or not it’s still the goal of the federal government for us to adapt to the white way.  It’s not your fault to be illegally removed, it’s the greet of the corrupted tribal leaders who are trying very hard to kill your history and to ”kill your Indian to save their casino.” If you lack on a baptism record for your ancestor, it doesn't mean your ancestor was not Indian, it just means your ancestor was traditional and did not entered the mission which you should feel proud he/she was not a follower but kept the tradition very alive. If there is no baptism to proof you ancestry, do not worry because there are hundreds of ways to proof your ancestry without the help of the BIA or Department of Interior. The creator made you Indian and he can only give final authority on your total blood degree, not Sally Jewell. So please, don’t let anyone change your history because you are what you are and you will survive this only if you are a warrior on the fight.  

10. If you could give tribes words of advice on disenrollment, what would they be?

150 years ago our ancestors were given smallpox to make them disappear, today we get disenroll to get disappeared once again. HISTORY ALWAYS REPEATS! but this time by our own people. Tribes need to understand Sovereignty is not immunity of civil rights. Sovereignty is not a way to do whatever you want. It’s more than anything a government to government relationship, between the tribe and the federal government. Our traditional ways are more than casino profits. In the colonial period, our ancestors looked over each other, and we should be doing the same for our people and keep following our traditions. Our ancestors warned us this would happened. The money and greed is for the white society, the more they have they more they want. Once the disenrollment started which I call the modern assimilation, many are losing their history, the culture, the language and background. We need to fight together and keep working defending our rights in Native America. Also remember, corrupted tribal leaders are also mainly the ones who lack in ancestry records, so they like to stay for years as tribal leaders so that they can avoid any challenges that may come. If a tribe requests to do the genealogy of every tribal member, the tribal council must accept the genealogy provided by the genealogist if all the genealogy can be proven. And if you are a tribal leader you must also show your documents to your members and council to proof your claim as an eligible member of the tribe. Because you are also a “member” and not just a tribal leader.  Do not wait until it’s too late that congress needs to step in and offer another damaging decision, Termination Policy #2. 

We Survived Christianization, Indoctrination, Acculturation, Termination, Extermination, Relocation, Reservations, Assimilation, Treaty violations, and we will survive what is next. 

You can follow Emilio on twitter: tribalgenocide / emilioleprado 
On Facebook: Disenrollment #stoptribalgenocide 


Dawn Bohle said...

Thank you for all your hard work, I know it is a passion of yours, lucky for us, because you have uncovered much information on my family, it would of possibly been buried forever

Dawn Bohle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Emilo Reyes seems to me to be a very young individual. What type of Degrees does he acclaim? The reason I ask is because anytime there is question on his Disenrollment page he deletes the Person from his page. I have seen it many times and it is disheartening. He says deragatory inflammatory remarks which some may agree with but he cannot or will not converse. If he is from San Pasqual I assume he was never enrolled. So his storytelling on disenrollment have never happened to him. Just my two thoughts.

Anonymous said...

Reinstatement, I can't wait for you to chime in. Emilio has put out multiple pieces of misinformation. Mostly the way tribes are established and basic terms. Good job helping out the cause but as we all know awareness doesn't mean results. It will always come down to litigation. I think knowing the difference between what an allotment and an asignment are is pretty basic principle.

Anonymous said...

Actually being 1/16 or 1/32 DOES make you less indian. It also makes you more of another nationality. Common sense.

Anonymous said...

Emilio hasn't been taking his History classes. Smallpox was in the early 1800's. Biggest epidemic in the 1830's. That is way more than 150 years ago. If your going to state facts, state facts. Not assumptions. You'll never be a journalist.

Anonymous said...

I am thinking the smallpox example was to support the idea not to talk about the smallpox history. I know him personally and his goal is not to be a journalist. He was asked to participate in the interview to give ideas on how to improve this epidemic on Native Americans since he is very familiar with the history of the families who have been wrongfully disenrolled.

Anonymous said...

Outstanding interview. Thank you for your work.

Anonymous said...

Don't you think if your going to present yourself as being knowledgeable in a subject that you should be knowledgeable about all aspects of that subject? If he wants the limelight he better be ready to be scrutinized. I couldn't imagine such a young individual know everything about any of the reservations. The only hardships that he endured were self inflicted, not by the outside community or the U.S. government. By him saying he understands, he lessens the actual tribal members sufferings. I think he should at least establish that.

EMILIO REYES says " if I were to trace every tribal leader I can guarantee there is....... wrong in their family history....."

This statement is highly doubtful. He obviously has not researched enough to make such a broad assumption.

I understand his drive but if he doesn't calculate his approach and withhold his arrogance. He will most definitely not succeed.

Anonymous said...

I disagree

Anonymous said...

There are so many influential natives within the community that have achieved in academics, including Anthropology Degrees and Doctorates, it's a little baffling to have such an understudy on such a well publicized site.

It will be interesting to see his published work.

Anonymous said...

To anonymous 9:11 who says Emilio is too young to know history on reservations, you are making an assumption. He is Native and he is a history major focusing on American Indian Studies with a double major on film. I've been a couple times to the archives with him and always finds what he is looking for. It's his passion that impresses me. Besides that, It's never too young to start defending rights or start a movement. Good job for all his efforts.

Anonymous said...

I thank GOD for people like Emilio for taking a stand against abuse of power within tribes and U.S. Department of the Interior (BIA) in Riverside & Sacamento n exposing the REAL TRUTH & STOP TRIBAL/BIA CORRUPTION . . . Let us NOT forget who is real responsible n not taking any responsibility for his or her action such as Amy Dutschke, Frances Muncy and others to name a few but you know who you are . . . and as of today they are still working (getting paid and so on), which they are handling and with holding our tribal documents as they please but soon thing will turn-around in our FAVOR with the help of Emilio and others who are taking a stand for all Native American Indians - I mean ALL (those from Federally Recognized Tribe & State Recognized Tribe and Un-recognized Tribe too), who can prove his or her Native American Heritage.
I know Emilio personally, He has a BIG Heart n he take his time to help others on his or her research and doing his very best to bring awareness of the unfairness n mistreatment of the Native American Indian that today many of us are still facing . . .
Blessed those who are the peacemakers and May GOD Bless you through your journey . . . and shine his light upon us for those is helping for a change n what is rightfully ours (given to us by birth) n pass down to us through generations . . . And All THING ARE POSSIBLE through our LORD & Savior Christ Jesus, Amen.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Emilio's being recognized!! Why does anyone care so much? He's not a scholar! He's a member of one of the most elite groups in the United States!! The Native Americans!!! No stopping us. As he portrays on the Disenrollment page, Natives will fight against indoctrination, Christianity, Assimilation and Reservations!! We are going back to the old world!! Amen!!

Anonymous said...

In his statement "kill the Indian save the man has now become disenroll us and make us dissappear" there is some logic missing.

In a majority of disenrollments it is the Tribe who is disenrolling not the government. The laws are tangled and while he belives it is the government's fault it is the sovereignty of the tribe that hinders solution.

New laws need to be addressed but with it comes a price. The US government has given tribes the ability to create their own government within the government. I do not see genocide by the U.S. If anything, as a Native American I feel privileged. Why because this world has always been divide and conquer. Assimilation has stopped and we are free to govern our reservations. The problems lie within our own Tribal Governments.

We need congress to issue a new law to halt the epidemic on our reservations. We are killing ourselves. We need to move forward, not backwards. Blaming Christianity and the pilgrims is not going to resolve any of our issues.

Let's hold each other accountable and get the meaning of TRIBE back into our daily lives.

O Pechanga said...

I am always amazed at the remarkable displays of courage I see when attacks are delivered anonymously.

The fortitude is inspiring.

Thank you Emilio, for all you have done for the San Pasqual descendants.

MyOpinion said...

So Original Pechanga is a blog about Opinions but you do not want any Opinions? Maybe you should make this blog show their names and that would resolve the issue. Just my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Cease and desist.

Dawn Bohle said...

The only reason this was deleted was because I duplicated my above post. 110% support his passion to find the truth!

Dawn Bohle said...

The only reason this was deleted was because I duplicated my above post. 110% support his passion to find the truth!

Anonymous said...

don't kill the messenger,...

Anonymous said...

You know what I don't understand, how could any Native American read this blog post and not appreciate what Emilio has done to help them? Why would anyone post anything negative in any manner. You should be ashamed of yourself, if you have. There are a few people in California that have actually stepped up to do something, including Emilio and Original Pechanga blog. For anyone else that has any criticism, shut the F#$% up if YOU have done nothing. Right or wrong, he has tried and probably done more to help us than you!

Anonymous said...

Want courage Opechanga? Call Caitlyn Jenner. Hahahahaha

San Pasqual Forever said...

How many of our young people are not involved at all in protecting their family's rights?

How many Hunters are there that won't get off their fat lazy asses?

How many from Pala?

How many Tosobols and APISH have given up, or never got in the fight? Who honors their ancestors?

That's why Basquez-Masiel-Macarros have no fear, nor respect.

It takes young people like Emilio to show how it's done. But excellent job in trying to tear someone down, from behind a computer....

O Pechanga said...

We need to encourage more of all our family and friends to help all of us. Calling each other out isn't always helpful.

It's not about one family or another, we may have all come to this point in different ships.... but we are ALL in the SAME BOAT NOW.

We need to help EVERY Native who has been harmed by their tribes. Today, it's San Pasqual, but tomorrow, it's Pala or Nooksack, or Grand Ronde.

It takes only a bit of effort to supplant the money we don't have... letters, tweets and a simple task like GOOGLE + ing this site, will help.

Having your kids visit this blog and hitting a few pages, and having their friends do us the favor of doing the same thing...will help....

STICK WITH IT...the struggle is worth it, and if we expect ANY politician to use their poltical capital on US...we need to show we are worth it.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

First of all, let's thank Emilio Reyes for caring enough to get involved. Sitting on the sidelines and complaining accomplishes nothing. He offered some interesting ideas and opportunities for discussion. Let's talk about the content of his message and ser where it goes.

i think the idea of an independent tribunal of disinterested parties to conduct hearings on disenrollment action would go a long way to fulfilling due process requirements. However, the logistics problems of involving Congress and the DOJ appear to be insurmountable. Such investigations are costly, time consuming, and mostly delay resolutions. More often than conditions change before solutions can be implemented.

Moving away from blood degree and toward lineal descent is a powerful means of ensuring the future. That doesn't help those who have suffered, but may help tribes survive these attacks on their very existence.

It may appear that tribes are committing acts of self termination, but the U.S. Government supports this movement. The Feds would love to remove lands from trust, dismantle the BIA, eliminate all services and benefits, and put the nightmare of dealing with indigenous peoples behind them. The Feds don't care about Indians or respect tribal cultures. It is up to Indians to care more about their people, their land, and their ways, and to act powerfully to preserve them.

H. Caufield said...

How come victor rocha's site doesn't have a comment section anymore?

Anonymous said...

Disenrollment and enrollment derive from the same legal idea, that tribes as sovereign nations have the power to determine their own membership. Assimilatiin, acculturation, and colonialism are alive and will never go away because the legal structure that regulates the relationship between tribes and the US government is founded, guided, and necessarily promoted by the idea that dependence and independence can only be grounded one way. Tribes are dependent, domestic nations, and their relationship with the federal government has always been controlled under that basic premise. Moreover, Congress has the unilateral ability to abrogate and determine that regulatory structure at will, as they assume the paternalistic power over tribes, but within that same structure, they are obligated to ensure tribal sustenance as outlined in treaty obligation and the interpretation of federal law as it pertains to tribes. Economic development, self-determination, and the health and well being of the tribal community function because of tribal sovereignty, or at least the regulation of federal powers in relation to those inherent powers. What am I saying? Tribal sovereignty is and has always been the key through which tribal communities gained a means through which to ptotect, provide, resist, and fight against encroachment and continual colonization. The problem is this legsl - political structure is not defined through tribal ideologies, it is defined through Western non-Indian ideologies. Linking the disenrollment to the regulatory powers of Congress and tie in that idea to the survival of tribal communities may create a solution. But, tribes will and should always determine who belongs and how, internal matters need to be solved by internal leadership, tribal communities affected by disenrollment need to understand that governance is not always rainbows and sunshine, thst each decision made by the trib as l government has real consequences and sometimes those are not always good. Tribal governance requires tribes to live with the consequences of bad political decisions or good political decisions, but it should always be determined by the community itself where the future of the tribe is heading. Unless, you can somehow link disenrollment as self-destructive and persuade Congress to utilize it's paternalistic nature to save it's lost children, I do not think Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez will be overturned.

Anonymous said...

You are dumb.