Thursday, December 11, 2008

Pechanga's Moratorium People: From Pechanga, But Not OF Pechanga

The Rios/Tosobal Family has ties to the Pechanga tribe, from his mother back to his great-great-great-grandmother, born in 1811. (That’s when Abe Lincoln was 2 years old!)

So, when his mother died in 1978 and left him a piece of reservation land, Manuel Rios Jr. began trying to make arrangements to bring water and electricity to the plot so he could set up a home there. 30 years later, he has yet to get tribal approval to do anything with the land.
Tribal officials had told him he and his family are not on the rolls, he said, and they won’t get considered for membership until a moratorium on new enrollments is lifted now extended past 2010. His family members, who number more than 100, have stacks of documents that they say they submitted to the enrollment committee 15 years ago.

As a nonmember, the Rios family has no recourse against the sovereign nation. He can’t sue the tribe in an outside or tribal court, and he can’t vote on the moratorium or cast a ballot against the elected tribal leaders.

The reservation has changed dramatically since Rios’ mother was a girl there, thanks to the opening of a $262 million resort and casino and other businesses. Now that tribal members collect a reported $30,000 in gaming profits a month, disputes over membership are commonplace.

Rios and others insist they once were members, and they allege that someone removed their names in order to ensure larger shares of gaming profits for the other members.
Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro has said tribes work hard to make sure that there’s due process in enrollment matters, yet, in reality, there is no due process.
He also contends that many recent applicants had no interest in the tribe until it was rich. ‘‘Where were these people before there was a casino?’’ Macarro asked.

Rios’ 53-year-old son, Manuel Rios Jr. of Riverside, said he’s glad his grandmother left the reservation, and her descendants avoided being mired in reservation poverty because of it. ‘‘I was out getting an education so I wouldn’t have to suck the money from the state of California to support me,’’ he said in an interview in Fontana. ‘‘We were paying for their (tribal member’s) welfare.’’

The Rios family members contend that the Pechanga tribal leadership is using sovereignty to improperly deny them membership and is acting like a dictatorship. In fact, Pechanga’s own constitution provides for OPEN ENROLLMENT every January. In the most recent disenrollment of the Hunter family, which occurred in 2006, the tribe stated that the membership, which voted to stop ALL disenrollments, had no authority to do so. That would mean, they have the power to keep people from getting IN, but no the authority to keep people from getting thrown OUT. That makes no sense at all.


Anonymous said...

I know people sometimes can't see the connection between disenrollment and the moratorium but consider the following:

In 2003, new members of the Enrollment Committee, including family members from the Hunter and Manuela Miranda famlies, who had been elected to the committee in 2002 sent a letter to the tribal council informing them of corruption on the Enrollment Committee.

The letter detailed how members of the Enrollment Committee had acted to deny enrollment to lineal descendants of enrolled members. These members would require DNA tests, delay meetings, and misinform parties before the Enrollment Committee.

So the Enrollment Committee prior to 2002 dominated by people from the CPP faction very well could have sat on applications of people who ended up in the moratorium and these and other irreularities were pointed out to the tribal council by people who ended up being disenrolled.

And the fact that those Enrollment Committee members who had been accused of not doing their duty by members of disenollee families were then allowed to vote on the fate of those families is a violation of Pechanga's own constitution that says under Article V, "It shall be the duty of all elected officers of the Band to uphold and enforce the Constitution, Bylaws, and ordinances of the Temecula Band of Luiseno Mission Indians; and also, TO UPHOLD AND ENFORCE THE INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS OF EACH MEMBER WITHOUT MALICE OR PREJUDICE."

Any reasonable person can clearly see that those Enrollment Committee members who had been accused of wrong doing by family members of the families who ended up being disenrolled should have been made to step aside from ruling on the disenrollees cases.

I believe that if they hadn't been allowed to rule on our cases that none of us would be disenrolled today.


Anonymous said...

The tribal council in 2006 in allowing the Hunter family to be disenrolled even though a law was passed in 2005 ending disenrollment as a part of Pechanga law cited the following:

"The General Membership, through its own authority, may not interrupt or question the actions of the Enrollment Committee concerning enrollment or disenrollment. This is illegal and in violation of established precedent in Tribal law."

But we can document a Pechanga tribal law precedent that says just the opposite, that the general membership can make decisions regarding tribal enrollment.

The precedent in tribal law we are citing regards the case of the descendants of Rose Murphy who in 1986 appealed to the tribal general membership the decision of the enrollment committee to turn down their family's applications for tribal membership.

The general membership voted on April 20, 1986 to accept the descendants of Rose Murphy as tribal members, overruling the decision of the enrollment committee not to enroll this family.

So just because the tribal council said in an official sounding statement two days before the Hunters were disenrolled that tribal law precedent states that the general membership cannot make enrollment decisions doesn't make it true.

What tribal law precedent was the council citing? My belief is that there is none and that the tribal council's ruling was clearly timed so that the Hunters could not challenge the council's twisting of tribal law.

But if Pechanga and tribes like them don't even follow their own laws, who can make them do so because of sovereignty?

Anonymous said...

Didn't they say the moratorium was to give the enrollment committee a chance to "correct" or "catch up"? How long do they need?

These people who have land ties should be in the tribe.

Anonymous said...

George, yes the moratotrium was supposed to be until they got caught up on the applications but was it supposed to last over 11 years?

But even so, the moratorium should be illegal as the Pechanga constitution says under Article 11, "The membership enrollment will be opened the first month of each year by the Bands Enrollment Committee."

I agree that people who have land ties to the tribe should be in the tribe but while the tribe acknowledges that we have a federal land patent as Temecula Indians, my family still got disenrolled.

People need to see that disenrollment and the moratorium are two sides of the same coin of corruption that has been ongoing at Pechanga.

I would love to have some official or even a tribal member come here and refute the points I am making but they can't.

All they can say is that they are a sovereign nation who can do whatever they want.

Craig said...

Here are some unauthorized pics of the soon to be opened Red Hawk Casino if anybody is interested

sorry this comment isn't related to the current discussion, but I know that tribal gaming is a constant subject on this blog so I thought you guys would find it relevant

Anonymous said...

Who is in contact with the moratorium people?

How many are there left?

I don't understand why Pechanga wants to be a smaller tribe.

Anonymous said...





Luiseno said...

But it's important to note that our family was a member of the tribe well BEFORE there was a casino. I don't think there was a casino there in the 1800's. And we were on the first reservation census rolls since it's creation (no casino then also).

Anonymous said...

It is also important to note the majority of the Hunter family who were disenrolled in 2006 had been enrolled during the 1979 enrollment or during open enrollment years before the casino was built.

So no we didn't enroll in the tribe because of the casino as Mark Macarro has tried to insinuate.

In fact a lot of us were probably tribal members before Macarro was.

Anonymous said...

I to am from the rios, munoa clanmand have been waiting for twelve years on the moratorium, I have given up hope that I will ever be enrolled. They are evil greedy non Indian mexican casino Indians! God Bless To All The Real Indians>

Linda said...

Hi. I'm a reporter from New Scientist magazine in the UK. I'm researching a story about the impact of DNA testing on Native American tribes, and I have heard that some tribes have been asking existing members to do a DNA test to prove they are related to the tribe. This has resulted in some people being asked to leave, as they have discovered their father wasn't who they thought it was.
Does anyone know anything more about this? If so, please could you contact me at:

If you want to know more about New Scientist, see:

Many thanks,

Linda Geddes

Anonymous said...

I am also waiting for the band to be lifted as my father, grandfather and great-grandmothers were once enrolled members. When my grandfather stopped recieveing free health care and was told of some new paperwork that was needed to be filled out he just didn't think to question anything. Now here I am wondering how and why our family have been overlooked. For my grandfather never feels a need to bother with much or know of his rights I felt a need to seek invovlement on issues that involve our history and help us gain more knowlegde to help us and our ancestors.
After months and hours of researching I feel a fierce need to get involved and fight for rights and the equality of the Pechanga people.

Anonymous said...

I've asked a similar question before, but with the number of people that were disenrolled, why can't ou create another recognized Pechanga tribe? You have enough people, and enough proof that you are Pechanga. Wouldn't it be easier to take what is rightfully yours after you have a solid government in place?

Anonymous said...

Just following up on my last comment- wouldn't the Federal Government take more interest in your case if there was a second tribal government disputing the others status? Why not make as many waves as possible?

Anonymous said...

I'm not tribal (at least, not from Pechanga), but I would love to see the greedy bunch of dictator guided pigs get knocked down a few notches. We all know what happened to many of the disenrolled wasn't right, and you know as well as I that the remaining enrolled Pechangas are flaunting their new found increased wealth. Their superior attitudes still abound. If the general public had to face the stuck up new-money snobs as often as I do, they'd never come to the casino. Please, take back what's yours and inject some humility back into the tribe.

Anonymous said...

Being a tribal member 20 years before Indian gaming was even THOUGHT about..there is NO forum for members OR now disenrolled members to get justice. WE need tribal sovereignty chipped away by the courts..enough that EMPLOYEES will have rights for compensation for illegal practices..and members for injustice. What if tribal members had NO recourse in medical treatment they received from "Indian Health"..they took off the wrong leg--TOO BAD! Be glad you have healthcare. That's the attitude. With 40 million a month NET PROFIT ( Morongo)..they can buy any governator...any president..any golfcourse. No constitution and now suing a member for having a site on the internet "" they will disenroll him..after they fine him $10,000 which is on their next ballot for membership to vote on. FINE Someone for speaking up against corruption, graft and greed?...check it out. They even have a "blog"...

Anonymous said...

Justice will not be served until those that have had injustice done against them rise up.

Most just turn away like a beaten dog, with no fight in them. Why should anyone care if they don't care enough to keep fighting?

They all were fat cats when they got per capita, but don't care when it got stolen from them.