Amid national debate about the use of a term many critics call outdated and offensive, Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed legislation banning the use of “Redskins” as a school mascot or team name.
While offensive to some, it seems too coincidental that politicians focus with laser intensity on this issue, while blithely ignoring the real issues in Indian Country: Tribal abuses of their own people. This year marks a full decade of civil rights violations primarily by Native American tribes with casinos.
Today, we urge you to be more serious about issues that matter in Indian County. Those issues include:
Denial of due process: 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. These actions have been carried out in gross violation of tribal and federal laws, such as the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, which were specifically enacted to guarantee and protect the rights of the individual Indian.
Disenrollment, the action of stripping tribal citizenship and federal recognition as native americans by councils for questioning illegal or self serving actions of corrupt tribal leaders who hold on to their positions at all costs to hide their crimes or to increase the amounts of per capita, or perhaps to settle an old score, has been growing at a level that should draw your attention much more than an offensive nickname. Tribes such as Chukchansi, near Fresno, CA with 60% of their tribe disenrolled, and the Pala Band of Luiseno Indians, in San Diego County, with more that 15% of the tribe terminated are just two of the more prominent tribes to have removed large numbers of people. 20% of citizens terminated would represent 7 million Californians.
Apartheid on our reservations in the 21st century. And it is native american tribes that are practicing this disgraceful action. The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in Temecula, led my Chairman Mark Macarro, known to many of you does not allow allottees of the reservation that have been disenrolled to use any reservation facilities, such as playgrounds, park or restrooms and water fountains. If they are caught, they could be banished from their homes and land, in the family since 1895. Allottees have no right to vote on issues pertaining to them, and recently attempted to steal water rights from allottees in a bill that seemed to be written by chairman Macarro's wife, lobbyist Holly Cook Macarro of IETAN.
But the Democratic governor vetoed legislation that would prohibit naming public buildings and roads in California after Confederate leaders.
The “Redskins” bill’s enactment comes 11 years after then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed similar legislation. Brown signed the bill without comment.
Assembly Bill 30, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Watsonville, will affect only four high schools in California – in Calaveras, Merced and Madera counties. The bill will let schools keep uniforms bearing the name if they are purchased before 2017 as long as the school selects a new team name, mascot or nickname.
In his 2004 veto of similar legislation, said local school boards should retain “general control over all aspects of their interscholastic policies.” Opponents of this year’s bill made a similar argument.
Brown himself appealed to local control in vetoing Senate Bill 539, the Confederate bill. He said in a veto message that the issue is “quintessentially for local decision makers.”
“Local governments are laboratories of democracy which, under most circumstances, are quite capable of deciding for themselves which of their buildings and parks should be named, and after whom.”
That reasoning did not satisfy the bill’s author, Sen. Steve Glazer, D-Orinda, who helped guide Brown’s 2010 run for the governorship. He took to Twitter to criticize his former boss, calling the veto a “hollow defense of unacceptable status quo.”