Monday, June 2, 2008

The Pechanga Indian Removal Acts: Violations of Civil Rights

Steve Craig and the folks at have graciously asked me to contribute to their blog. Here is the first submission The Pechanga Indian Removal Acts

The Pechanga Indian Removal Acts

Posted on January 16th, 2008 by Original Pechanga

The explosion of Indian Gaming in California has lead to some acts that tribes such as Pechanga Band of Temecula would like to keep as “family secrets.” Removing Indians from tribes, pronouncing them non-Indians, had the same effect as Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Acts had in 1830’s America. Get the Indians we don’t want or like out of the way.

In 2004 and 2005, as part of the Concerned Pechanga People’s Indian Removal Policy, members of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians were forced to give up their membership in the tribe whose reservation is in Temecula, CA. Life-long members, who have had land on the reservation for centuries were forcibly expelled from the tribe. This act of paper genocide has had devastating effects on 25% of the Pechanga people.
Elders no longer qualify for the health care that they lobbied the tribe to provide for all its members. The young are not allowed to attend the reservation’s school, being forcibly blocked and told to leave, much in the manner of the white racists who blocked black children from integrating schools in Little Rock in the 1950’s.

Those who were removed, face an unsecured financial future. Many worked for the tribe, were part of all events, meetings, have their dead buried in the Pechanga Cemetery. Now, that has ended. In order to increase the per capita ($15,000 per month at the time of the first removal) some of the descendents of Pablo Apis, the family of Manuela Miranda were terminated from the tribe. Per capita grew to $20,000 per month (plus bonuses) for those remaining, members of the Concerned Pechanga People initiated a misinformation campaign, one that has successfully terminated over 300 Native Americans of Pechanga descent at the time of the second removal (the descendents of Paulina Hunter.) The per capita is now reportedly $40,000 per month.

Blood relatives are banished from the reservations, families who are no longer in the tribe, but live on the reservation property that they’ve owned since the late 1800’s live in fear that the tribe will take away their water, which has been threatened by some of the remaining tribal members. Will Pechanga really turn off their lifeblood, as easily as they took away their civil rights? It’s not difficult to think so, after the atrocities that the CPP have already committed.

The Concerned Pechanga People
This is the group of people that let the blackness of greed take over their hearts and minds.

The Splinter Group

This group is an offshoot of the 1980’s Splinter Group, led by Russell Murphy and assisted by Frances Miranda and Ihrene Scearse (later on the enrollment committee and committed to removing tribal members). Non-enrolled members of Pechanga, they started attending meetings and disrupted the regular goings on of the business. They announced that they were separating from the band and forming their own Tribe. They petitioned the BIA to recognize them, but the BIA refused.
With few exceptions, no member of the splinter group applied for membership because they knew they could not meet the constitutional requirements established by the Pechanga Band.
The actions of the splinter group raise legitimate questions: Are they really Pechanga? Are they able to document their lineal descent from an Original Pechanga Temecula Person as the Pechanga Bands Constitution and Bylaws require? Did they figure that disruption of tribal matters was the way to go?
This is not the portrait of a tribe in need, asking the people of California to allow tribes to have Las Vegas type gaming such as portrayed in the Prop. 1A and Prop. 5 television commercials of the 1990’s. This is about power, greed and violations of civil rights, voting rights, and elder abuse. It’s about tribal governments wielding sovereignty like a club and it’s about individual Indians that have nowhere to turn for justice.
I’ll explore this more in future posts, with thoughts on expanded gaming in California and what it feels like to be told you aren’t who you know you are.

Please take a look at the whole article, please check out the link and COMMENT.


Anonymous said...

Question: I assume people that frequent this site are very knowledgeable regarding the Pechanga Indians. With that in mind have you researched the families that are members, specifically the members that on the enrollment committee that voted you out? I have heard that many people don't believe that a number of the families that are enrolled are actually Pechanga. I would think if you had proof that they were not Pechanga and proof that you were, that the BIA or the BIA in Washington DC would have to do something.

OPechanga said...

The members who are not born Pechanga, have grasped the power to disenroll blood members. The BIA? Their incompetence is legendary. They "say" they can't get involved in membership issues.

Their involvement doesn't help much. YOUR involvement, by spreading the word, asking your friends to avoid casinos from tribes that violate civil rights, would help MORE.

Anonymous said...

Is Pechanga pronouncing you non-Indian or non-Pechanga Indians?

OPechanga said...

Pechanga pronounced us NON Pechanga, which in turn means the Feds no longer recognize us as Indians.

Luiseno said...

I'm not so sure about this, I was recognized as a California Indian well before Pechanga recognized me as one and still have a Calif BIA Indian ID number. They have recognised me as a Luiseno Temecula Pechanga Indian since I was a little kid. Although I am not sure if this still is the case with as I have heard that a member of the Pechanga Band who is in charge of the Riverside BIA office has been buzy changing BIA records to remove the Pechanga title from some of there records.

Not too sure about this myself, as I havent checked on it personally, Just something that has been reported.

Anonymous said...

Actually, in the Record of Decision against us the enrollment committee stated that they were making no determination of our Native American status just that, wrongly I believe, that we are not Pechanga Indians.

The enrollment committee also acknowledges, in the Record of Decision against us, the Hunters, that we have a patent from the federal government listing us as Temecula Indians and all sides agree that our land patent lists us as such.

The federal government though will not give us certain services because we are tribeless.

Luiseno is right as I also have a roll number as a California Indian that I had before I was even a Pechanga tribal member and this has not been taken away from me.

It is like we have the same status now as Indians that are members of non federally recognized tribes.

For example the San Luis Rey Tribe, although they don't have recognition, are considered Luiseno Indians.