Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Tribal corruption, disenrollments the focus of Thursday event in Sacramento

YOUR presence can make the difference between an event, and a MAJOR event. Bring a friend.

Indian activists from around Lake County and the state will converge in Sacramento on Thursday to shine a spotlight on critical issues facing Indian Country – from disenrollments to corruption on the part of tribal leaders.

The gathering, titled "Tribal corruption is not traditional," will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 5, on the north side of the State Capitol Building, 10th and Street and the Capitol Mall in downtown Sacramento.

United Native Americans Inc. and the American Indian Rights and Resources Organization (AIRRO) are sponsoring the event, whose guest speakers will include Lehman Brightman, founder of United Native Americans Inc.; Wanda Quitiquit, who the Robinson Rancheria Citizens Business Council has targeted for disenrollment, along with her family; John Gomez, president of AIRRO who was himself disenrolled from the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians in 2004; Cesar Caballero of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok; Clayton Duncan of the Lucy Moore Foundation and a Robinson Rancheria member; Norman "Wounded Knee" DeOcampo, a disenrolled Miwok from Vallejo; and Ukiah resident Loise Lockhart, another victim of disenrollment.

"Nobody quite understands what's going on in Indian Country," said Quanah Brightman, vice president of United Native Americans Inc., based on the Bay Area.

Brightman, who is Lakota Sioux and Creek, said it's important to get beyond some current myths about Indians to get to the core of the very complex issues facing Indian nations around the country.

For one, he said, it's believed that because of casinos and an exemption from income tax that Indians are rich. “It's the furthest thing from the truth,” he said.

To emphasize that point, Brightman said the gathering is scheduled for Feb. 5, the one-year anniversary of California voters approving gaming compacts between the state and the Pechanga, Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.

Brightman said one of the event's goals is to give Indian leaders the chance to meet with state legislators and to educate them and the general public about the issue of disenrollment – the increasing practice of tribes kicking out members.

He called disenrollment "the new form of termination" for Indians. "We're becoming extinct," he said.

Disenrollment is having far-reaching, divisive consequences for Robinson Rancheria.

In December, Robinson Rancheria's tribal council disenrolled about 50 of its members. Those who were disenrolled included the Quitiquit family, who supported EJ Crandell for the tribal chair seat in a general election last summer. The sitting tribal chair, Tracey Avila, disputed the election, which was decertified.

Avila said the disenrollments were necessary to clean up the tribal rolls and address the membership of those whose place in the tribe had been questioned.

This Lake County News Article has the rest of the story


sdsuindian said...

There is no better example of Tribal sovereignty than a nation being able to decide its membership...

OPechanga said...

Ah, but there ARE better examples.

1. Following Tribal Laws.
2. Treating all members justly.
3. Taking care of the people
4. Acting for the GOOD of the nation.

PHunter said...

Deciding membership is not the issue. False accusations and ignoring the facts to eliminate people is the issue.

Anonymous said...

SdsuIndian, allegations of wrongdoing on the Pechanga Enrollment Committee were brought to the attention of the tribal council by family members of the two families that are now disenrolled.

Regardless of whether the allegations were true or not and while I do believe they were true, let's say for argument's sake that the allegations were false.

Still, those enrollment committee members who had been accused should not have been allowed to rule on the disenrollees' cases.

In allowing them to do so, the tribal council violated Article V of the Band's constitution and bylaws that says "elected officials are to uphold the rights of individual tribal members without malice or predjudice."

We can document that the tribal council was alerted to the allegations of certain enrollment committee members and the enrollment committee and the council were asked to have those Enrollment Committee members in question to recuse themselves from ruling on the disenrollees' cases as their decisions would be biased against the disenrollees.

Also, some of the challeges to the disenrollees tribal membership were by people who are directly related to those enrollment committee members, another reason those committee members, who turned out to be the deciding votes in the kicking the disenrollees out of the tribe, should have stepped aside from ruling on the disenrollees' cases.

Yes tribes have a right to determine their own membership but what if the process is not fair, even according to a tribe's own internal laws?

All we, the disenrolled wanted and still want was/is a fair chance to prove the challenges to our tribal membership wrong but we never have gotten that chance.

SduIndian, I know you likely think you are defending the rights of Indian nations but consider this, what if your tribe suddenly came after you and your family and decided in a kangaroo court like setting that you are no longer a member of your tribe?

You might see things differently.

You may think you are inmune to this happening to you and your family but in the current climate in Indian Country I don't think anyone is safe.

Anonymous said...

No better example of a human rights violation than a nation depriving a citizen of their right to belong with-out just cause.
If a nation had resource shortages, then they would negotiate with other nations to help them, not turn a prescribed amount of their own citizens into refugees. Such is not the case with most tribal dis-enrollments and sovereignty issues. Persond are being dis-enrolled because and ancestor doesn't meet modern review or someone is a threat to someone elses position of authority. Tribal sovereignty includes a respomsibilty to human rights, like all other recognized nations.

Anonymous said...

SduIndian, some more points for you to consider:

1. In our disenrollment cases our attornies were not allowed to be present at any of the disenrollment proceedings.

2. We actually got letters from the tribal council before our appeal hearings that "note taking implements of any kind will not be allowed in the hearing room."


3. We were denied copies of any of the official transcripts of any of the disenrollment proceedings.

comment: that made it very hard to mount a defense and prove that key parts of the disenrollment procedures were not followed because without those transcripts it was our word verses the committee's word.

4. Articles were added on by the Enrollment Committee after the deadline had passed for us to turn in counter arguments against those items which we had never seen beforehand.

5. The tribal council issued a bogus ruling that our family, the Hunters, were not included in the petition to end all disenrollments that had been passed the previous year.

Note: This ruling was issued just two days before the Record of Decision informing my family we were disenrolled and seven months after the law ending disenrollment had been passed.

Follow up note: The tribal council claimed that the Enrollment Committee could not be overruled by the General Membership despite the fact that a sitting councilman is in the tribe today because the General Membership had overturned the committee' decision not to enroll his family twenty years previous.

SduIndian, do you mean to support these actions which violated our rights?

Because when you blindly follow the doctrine of tribal sovereignty at all costs, that is what you are doing.

And real live, breathing people are the cost of this sovereignty at all costs.

SduIndain, we are American citizens and no other American citizens would and should put up with what we went through but somehow we are expected to put up with it by some in Indian Country.