Sunday, December 14, 2008


A Temecula-based American Indian rights group is calling on President-elect Barack Obama's administration to get more involved in tribal matters, paying close attention to the recent rise in efforts to disenroll thousands of people from Indian nations.

John Gomez Jr., president of the American Indian Rights and Resources Organization in Temecula, said the administration has failed to protect individual Indians' civil rights."I think it would be appropriate to give them an F," Gomez said. "They are inconsistent, and they say they don't have the authority to get involved. They would rather not be involved, and that contradicts their mandate to protect Indian rights."

Gomez founded the group after he and about 250 other people were removed from the Pechanga Band of Mission Indians near Temecula in 2004. An official with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Sacramento said the agency steps into membership disputes only when it is required to under a tribe's constitution, as it did last month with the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians near Valley Center."Usually, these types of actions are within the tribe's authority," said Fred Doka, regional tribal operations officer for the bureau.

San Pasqual is one of several tribes in the state attempting to remove people from the tribe. The bureau said last month that the 59 people involved in the San Pasqual dispute were properly enrolled members and should not be removed.But San Pasqual is one of only a handful of tribes in the state whose constitution requires the bureau to get involved in such matters, Doka said. California has more than 100 American Indian tribes.

Even in instances in which tribal constitutions do not require the bureau to get involved, Gomez said the agency should take steps to make sure that those tribes also follow a fair process and that individual rights are protected.The rights group claims more than 2,000 people have been expelled from tribes in California since voters in the state legalized Indian gambling in 2000. Gomez said greed and a hunger for power have led tribes to unfairly oust people.

Gomez also said that he was encouraged by the names that are being discussed as potential appointments to head the Interior Department. He said that his organization has sent letters to the potential candidates asking them for their stance on enrollment matters. Some of the names that have been floated as possible candidates to head the Interior Department are: U.S. Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Ariz.; Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa; and Kevin Gover, director of the Smithsonian's National Museum of the American Indian."Our position is that you can get involved" in enrollment matters, Gomez said. "Tribal sovereignty and American Indian civil rights are not mutually exclusive."

The BIA should get involved when tribes VIOLATE their own constitution to deny civil rights to their people, like in the case of Pechanga.



Anonymous said...

its past time, for the party of "civil rights" to get involved.

Anonymous said...

Although I would agree that Obama needs to pay more attention to Native rights, he has done better then Bush ever did. I'm hoping he keeps his promises...

Anonymous said...

Well, the democratic party appointed none other than Pechanga chairman Mark Macarro to the 2008 democratic platform committee.

Macarro presided over the illegal disenrollment of hundreds of his fellow tribal members and the denial of tribal membership of hundreds more.


Maybe I am a little cynical but with the democrats all I see is a party who gives lip service to civil rights while they chase after big time political contributions and here in California that means money from gaming tribes like Pechanga.

Anonymous said...

it says in the times that he picked Sen. Ken Salazar....from Colorado...better start the letter writing campaign to him!!!

Anonymous said...

Yes and im sure if any of Obamas people did happen upon your blog to see what was on it, they would be thrilled to see your usually Obama-bashing comics at the end of your blog....does anybody even understrand what most of them mean?..

OPechanga said...

The comics are not mine, they are from Chris Muir, and if you look at his site, you will see he skewers all. Start at the beginning and you will understand where the characters are coming from.

I'm pretty sure that our new President understands commentary, why, believe it or not, he chose Rick Warren to give his invocation, meaning that Barack is able to make distinctions, unlike many of his followers.

Anonymous said...

hope your right Opechanga..because I am 100% behind you....and have stopped going to what was my favorite casino....but you have to understand...what you put on your blog as comics is of course your right, but it does seem like you hate Obama or at least like to knock him with the comics you post...even if they are drawn by somebody else..they represent you.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with a lot of the things the comics say but since Mr. Obama is a public figure, he is fair game.

What difference does it make if the comics are here or not because right is right and wrong is wrong and the comics should not have anything to do with it.