Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Disenrollment: 21st Century Indian War is ... Indian vs. Indian

This is not the war of racist, greedy whites who wanted to expand westward no matter who was hurt. This time, it's greedy Indians who want more money, no matter which tribal members they hurt. The 21st century Indian War is now Indian vs. Indian.

Tribes such as Pechanga of Temecula, CA,  Grande Ronde, Redding Rancheria,  Nooksack of Washington State,  are violating their members civil rights, eliminating them from tribal rolls and denying them their. And because   of sovereignty, instead of following evidence, the reasons can be "we just don't like you" or "we don't believe the evidence" (are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?),

In California's Indian Country, wealthy casino tribes are gorging themselves with cash, the fruits of their casino, thanks to laws passed by the citizens of California. Prop 1A and Prop. 5 were passed overwhelmingly, spurred by ads that promised not to expand gaming and to help tribes with self reliance. .

To the California populace, this meant that tribes would be able to take care of their own membership. Those living in poverty would be brought forth; non gaming tribes would benefit from a fund to which gaming tribes would contribute. It was sold as a 'lifting of all boats'.

What has happened in that time has in fact helped some tribes. San Manuel of San Bernardino has developed their reservation from dirt poor to one of the wealthiest in the state and tribal members are definitely in the top 1/10th of income earners in California. And they are taking care of their people and reaching into their OWN pockets to help those less fortunate. Their population is limited, with fewer than 200 members.

Morongo of Cabazon is another example of good governing. Sadly, some tribes could not stand to share their good fortune. Visions of more money, or living at San Manuel standards blinded some with greed and envy.  Tribal members who had nothing, and became rich, suddenly weren't satisfied, the pure definition of GREED, they wanted what others had.

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians is one such tribe. Blessed with an excellent location near a freeway and with easy access and a growing population, the Pechanga Resort and Casino was successful and thriving. With just over 1,000 adult members, the tribe was, by 2004 able to provide their members with a monthly per capita check of $15,000 and quarterly bonuses. Additionally, the tribe provided health care (now classified as a Cadillac plan)  via Blue Shield, Dental, Eye and extra benefits for elders. Also included was educational assistance including college scholarships for which all was needed was a C average. Even John Kerry and G. W. Bush could have kept a scholarship.

But that wasn't enough for a splinter group of band members, the Concerned Pechanga People. This group of extremists made threatening advances on tribal enrollment committee members, storming offices demanding that people be disenrolled.

The disenrollment process was initiated in a Salem-witch-trial like atmosphere. Letters saying, "I think that family should be investigated" and "there is a person from OHIO that had the same name, we think it was their ancestor". Never mind that one of the ancestors under investigation had land on the reservation for well over 100 years, given to them from President McKinley.

The process has been recounted in the article from Harpers "A Paper Trail of Tears" detailing the ouster of the family of the original headman of the Pechanga, Pablo Apis. Pechanga will say, that Apis wasn't Pechanga, yet, HIS LAND is where the Casino sits, should the Casino be moved?

The evidence for Paulina Hunter's family is detailed in "Without a Tribe" an investigative report from KNBC-TV in Los Angeles. The investigation went on for months and as recounted in the piece, Pechanga refused to speak to KNBC until the day before the airing.  And Pechanga chairman Mark Macarro LIED in the first 20 seconds, verifiably.

Comically, Pechanga had to buy a 30 second spot during February sweeps (a bit more costly) to tell their story. In watching the report, it was clear that Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro was caught in a lie, and he was called on it by anchor Colleen Williams.

The report featured noted anthropologist, Dr. John Johnson, curator of the Natural History Museum in Santa Barbara, and an expert in his field, possibly without equal. What is the significance of Dr. Johnson? Well, the Pechanga tribe hired him to research Paulina Hunter's ancestry. They went for the best and he found the truth about Paulina; she was indeed Pechanga, "100%" he said. Now keep in mind that this gentlemen has worked with California Mission Indians for decades, heavily researching Las Padrones, the historical record of the priests of Mission San Luis Rey (from which Luiseno comes).  Pechanga DID NOT use the exculpatory evidence that belied the claims of Paulina Hunter not being of Original Pechanga descent.

Some authors, who are concerned that sovereignty issues outweigh any damage to families of disenrolled, ask the question: Are they violating tribal law or US law, because US law wouldn't apply to a sovereign nation. Well the answer is: They are violating tribal law. Pechanga's constitution requires open enrollment every January with specific requirements for enrollment. There is no blood quantum required; the requirement is lineal descent from an original Pechanga person.


Chaplaw said...

I am glad to see the spotlight now shining on the lawyers who advise on how their tribal clients can commit human rights violations against their own members and help them get away with it. I am not a favorite of most of the big so-called federal Indian law firms as I have been speaking out about this and other human rights atrocities by tribes toward their own for years and years. Attorneys must be thrown into the pile of perpetrators. They keep their power monger dictators in power and keep those mangy dogs on top of the gravel pile in control of the check book where they make loads of $$ in fees helping to create mayhem and misery among tribal members. I praise Tony Cohen for leaving a situation up in Lake County so no one could accuse him of being a part of the disenrollment promoters. Lawyers helping tribes to create dictatorships and not encourage true tribal democracies merits genuine discussion.

WeRone said...

Our Ancestors appreciate the truth and honoring ALL our Ancestors is the honorable way to live. To deny ALL members the same rights is very disgraceful.

Anonymous said...

Live honorably
Fight honorably

Pressure is the only way to win....

Pressure congress
Pressure the PRESS
Pressure the Tribes
Pressure the customers

Giving up is not a path to victory for anyone other than the corrupt tribal councils.