PLACERVILLE, CA - Cesar Caballero traces his native American ancestry back more than a century to the Miwok tribe in El Dorado County.
But his claim to the name put him squarely in the sights of the tribe that just opened the Red Hawk casino in Shingle Springs. With millions of dollars at stake, the name of the tribe has become a valuable trademark.
Caballero, 38, said he has tried unsucessfully for several years to gain recognition from the Shingle Springs band of Miwok Indians.
The long-simmering dispute between Caballero and Shingle Springs tribal leaders boiled over when Caballero filed official papers with the El Dorado County recorder identifying himself as the tribal historian of the Shingle Springs band.
The Shingle Springs band filed suit in Sacramento federal court last week accusing Caballero of trademark infringement and seeking an injunction barring him from using the name.
In a written statement to News10, an attorney representing the band did not dispute Caballero's claim of Miwok ancestry, but said he has no ancestral link to the Shingle Springs rancheria.
"Whether or not Mr. Caballero is Miwok is irrelevant to the issue," wrote attorney Paula Yost. "Indeed there may well be Miwoks in California who are not members of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, a fact owed as much to the disastrous historical mistreatment and dispersion of California Indians by settlers and the United States government than anything else." Uh, NO, MS. LAWYER, it has to do with TRIBES refusing to take in rightful members. The SETTLERS had NOTHING TO DO with this.
Caballero said he speaks for as many as 400 Miwoks in El Dorado County who have been left behind by the new prosperity facing the Shingle Springs band.
He said he's seeking legal help to defend against the lawsuit.
Hey NARF (Native American Rights Fund) HOW ABOUT fighting for the rights of some Native Americans that ARE NOT your big donors. Stand up and speak TRUTH to Power, you cowards. Here is part of NARF's description of their organization:
Founded in 1970, the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) is the oldest and largest nonprofit law firm dedicated to asserting and defending the rights of Indian tribes, organizations and individuals nationwide.
Hey CILS (California Indian Legal Services) HOW ABOUT PROVIDING some LEGAL SERVICES to a man and group that are being mistreated.