Monday, March 30, 2009
Not only is Chairwoman Leona Williams the only one who knows which of the checkerboard land parcels that are in federal trust on the Pinoleville Rancheria, she is also the only one who knows who the members are in her "new" Pinoleville Pomo Nation. In the article below she claims there are 240 members in her new tribe.
What is so interesting is that in 2003 the BIA sponsored a Secretarial election where there were 305 tribal members in the Pinoleville Rancheria tribe. Where did the other 65 members go and why don't the other 200 plus original Pinoleville Rancheria's Tillie Hardwick members receive notice of tribal elections and tribal council meetings or be allowed to share in the State gaming revenue sharing money the tribe receives. Why won't Leona Williams answer the simple question from the Tillie Hardwick members who want to know if they are part of her "new" tribe, instead of her standard response that this information is confidential.
What is even more interesting is that Chairwoman Leona Williams in her petition to Mendocino County Court asking the court to convey two cemeteries to the "new" Pinoleville Pomo Nation that is located on non-trust land not part of the Rancheria, the chairwoman list only 64 citizens of the Pinoleville Pomo Nation as being beneficiaries of this state trust property. Most noticeably missing are a very large group of original Pinoleville Rancheria's Tillie Hardwick members who are also beneficiaries of this state trust land adjacent to the Rancheria.
Here is my question:
If the Pinoleville Rancheria was a not a Federally recognized tribe in 1934 and the recent Supreme Court Carcieri ruling states the BIA can only take land into trust if a tribe was federally recognized in 1934, and Pinoleville Rancheria's Tillie Hardwick in 1980 brought the lawsuit forward that resulted in Federal recognition for the Pinoleville Rancheria's tribe, and Chairwoman Leona Williams now bases her tribal membership on a criteria that uses former trustees of the state land never under federal jurisdiction or part of the Pinoleville Rancheria, how can the Pinoleville Pomo Nation even be allowed to have gaming or take land into trust without the original Pinoleville Rancheria's Tillie Hardwick members being the basis for the tribe?
This why there is going to be a rally at the Mendocino Court house in the near future. The original Pinoleville Rancheria's Tillie Hardwick tribal members need to be allowed to participation in "THEIR" tribe and guaranteed future access to their ancestors graves and guarantees that Leona won't be desecrate their ancestors graves, deny access to them and eliminate the rights to bury their families, in her pursuit of a casino should the BIA ever decide to take this state trust land into federal trust status.
Critics contend it goes too far and abridges freedom of speech. Others say it’s no different than a business that has the right to restrict interference with its operations, or picketers on its property.
Leaders of the tribe say they are trying to protect tribal meetings and business, particularly River Rock Casino, from being disrupted by the actions of protesters. But tribal members who have been disenrolled or who are threatened with being cast out of the 970-member tribe, say the code of conduct is an attempt to quash dissent and a tool for the Dry Creek Rancheria board of directors to hold onto power.
“It’s one of the latest mechanisms to place people in fear, said Liz De-Rouen, a former chairwoman of the tribe who was kicked out this month after 26 years as a member. They don’t want the truth out there.
Chairman Harvey Hopkins denied that the board is trying to stifle free speech, and said the intent is to keep tribal meetings and revenues from being disrupted.
“Freedom of speech is a wonderful thing, as long as it doesn’t impede the business being created for the general membership, Hopkins said.
He acknowledged that the proposed code of conduct could apply to tribal dissidents demonstrating anywhere in San Francisco for example and not just at the casino near Geyserville, as they did a month ago, or the tribal offices in Healdsburg, as they did two weeks ago.
Hopkins said the board already has wide-ranging powers to discipline tribal members, but the new code of conduct is intended for the tribal membership to more clearly define the violations.
Under the proposed ordinance, tribal members could be subject to banishment and fines if their actions demean or otherwise injure the reputation and image of the tribe or any tribal operation.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Instead, Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar have expressed a need to settle the Cobell v. Salazar case in court rather than sit down and talk to Native landowners and negotiate a settlement.
“Salazar's out there talking, saying he wants to settle this case and putting false hopes into Indian people,” said Elouise Cobell, the lead plaintiff in the case.
“It's really a slam in the face,” she said. “Why is this administration taking this avenue? They have to live up to their trust responsibility and they need to talk to Indian people.”
Dennis Gingold, lead attorney in the 12-year-old case, pointed out Wednesday that Salazar is a trustee. “And he can't sit down and talk to the trust beneficiaries?” Gingold asked.
Interior spokeswoman Kendra Barkoff said the department could not comment because the case is in litigation. Salazar, Barkoff said, “is sincere in trying to find a resolution to this case.”
Lawyers for the Interior Department as well as lawyers for Native landholders both filed successful appeals to the U.S. Court of Appeals immediately after a federal judge in August awarded a $455 million settlement regarding the department's mismanagement of the tribal trust fund system.
Cobell, who is from the Blackfeet Reservation, expressed disappointment with Salazar's decision to talk of settlement only after the case is heard in the Court of Appeals. Oral arguments are scheduled for May 11 in Washington, D.C.
“People in Indian Country are expecting a settlement,” Cobell said. “For him to say he can't work on a settlement until the Court of Appeals rules, well, the opportunity is now. Now is the time he needs to pull the forces and powers together.”
The Interior Department oversees the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of Special Trustee, two agencies with significant oversight of Native issues. The department has been responsible for collecting and distributing money earned from natural resources on 11 million acres of land owned by Native individuals. The department's trust responsibility to Native landowners dates back to 1887.
Salazar initially provided hope about settling the lawsuit at a National Congress of American Indians gathering, said Cobell.
She said the Interior Department, as well as the Office of Management Budget and the Justice Department, all need to work to settle the case. “Certainly the Obama administration can call Justice and say, ‘Lay off. Pull off the dogs. We're going to stop this litigation.' ”
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
Who was Tillie Hardwick ?
During the 1950’s, the United States Government shifted its Indian policy and Congress passed the California Rancheria Act of 1958. The Act authorized the Secretary of the Interior to negotiate agreements with California’s Indian communities. It eventually led to the Indians of Pinoleville and 39 other rancherias having their rights as Indians “terminated.”
In exchange for Indians in these communities giving up those rights, the federal government promised residents clear legal titles to individual properties, upgrading of houses, provide a good road, water and sewer system and education for "terminated” Indians. Not surprising, The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) did not deliver those services and as a result many ill-equipped Indians ended up losing their lands.
After the BIA failed to honor those promises, Pinoleville resident Tillie Hardwick, along with Indians from 17 terminated rancherias would file a suit: Tillie Hardwick v. the United States Government. In 1983, a compromise settlement was reached that re-established the rights of California’s terminated Indians and the reorganization of their Indian communities as tribal governments.
Governor, you shame the memory of the very woman who helped gain tribal rights for this Rancheria. You should be standing up for all Pinoleville people and NEVER signed this compact until all rightful members are where they belong.
A close friend told me that he ran into a Dry Creek member this weekend in Redding. This tribal member was bragging about how they were going to be getting alot more money once they disenroll over 100 of their tribal members. My friend told the Dry Creek member that he shouldn't be so proud about this and that someday this may come back on him. It sounds like there will be more disenrollments at Dry Creek once the first wave is done.
Dry Creek Rancheria tribal leaders are using the disenrollments to manipulate their tribal elections, using the casino money as a carrot. Shame on Dry Creek's GREEDY tribal members.
We will be having a demonstration in the future at Dry Creek that will focus on these disenrollments. Hopefully, the Dry Creek disenrolled can find an opportune time that will give us enough advanced notice so other disenrolled Indians up and down the state can attend.
Until you stop the disenrollments, these corrupt tribal leaders will continue to manipulate elections, have little or no oversight and will continue to rule regardless what the remaining tribal members want. It is high time the BIA stop funding and recognizing these corrupt tribal governments.
THERE IS A PROTEST Scheduled.
WHEN: Saturday, March 28, 2009 @ 10:30a.m.
WHERE: 190 Foss Creek Circle Healdsburg, California
Tribal Officials of Dry Creek Rancheria have lost their way and are in the process of turning their backs on their Indian brothers and sisters.
Dry Creek Rancheria Tribal Officials, blinded by greed and power, are proposing to strip 73 adults and 70 children of their tribal identity, culture and heritage. These are the rights their ancestors fought so hard to preserve for their future generations.
This is an urgent plea to all Indian and non-Indian people to join us at a rally to focus attention on Dry Creek Rancheria Tribal Officials that are manipulating tribal rolls and elections, oppressing their tribal members and ruthlessly terminating the employment of targeted members and their supporters.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Then WHY are employees of CA's Indian casinos subject to the dangers of second hand smoke by the patrons of casinos?
Shouldn't the unions be organizing these employees? Why aren't they stressing a safe work environment as a reason to organize? Why wait for card-check?
What do you think? Should smoking be banned from all casinos? Don't smoke and gamble?
For Immediate Release
For more information contact:
Marilyn Vann 405-818-5360
Norman Hightower – 918-360-2029
Descendants of Freedmen and their Supporters to Demonstrate Outside Muskogee Bureau
of Indian Affairs (BIA) Office on Friday March 27 2009
The Descendants of Freedmen of the Five Civilized Tribes Association and their Supporters will lead a demonstration outside the Muskogee BIA office on Friday March 27 2009 beginning at 3 pm central time.
The BIA building is located at 3100 W Peak, Muskogee Oklahoma.
The Descendants of freedmen are persons of African descent whose ancestors were listed as
“freedmen tribal members” on the Dawes Indian rolls of the Five Tribes more than 100 years ago.
Tribal freedmen and their descendants gained tribal membership rights, rights to hold office, as well as economic rights in the tribes based on treaty agreements signed between the US government and the tribes in 1866. Today’s descendants of freedmen have been denationalized/disenrolled from their tribes in questionable tribal elections in which they were not allowed to participate (or had minimalparticipation) or are treated like second class tribal members – denied tribal benefits and the rights to hold tribal office.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Saturday, March 21, 2009
10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
41801 Corte Valentine
Temecula, CA 92592
1. Opening Prayer
3. Rights Issues in California and beyond
4. Civil Rights and the Obama Administration
5. Discussion on Amendments to Bylaws
6. Other Business
7. Closing Prayer/Adjournment
Please update membership information if needed.
Membership dues should be paid at this meeting if you have not already done so.
By previous vote of the AIRRO membership, yearly dues are $5 in cases of hardship.
Drinks and snacks will be provided by AIRRO.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
MONEY QUOTE: The Bureau cannot recognize the process follow in the conduct of the January 11, 2009 tribal election and continues recognition of the January 14, 2007 tribal elections.
The BIA continues: The San Pasqual Band is advised this election was not held in conformance with tribal laws.
That means illegal, unlawful, not right, corrupt.
More Money quote:
In administering this trust responsibility, the Bureau must nsure that Indian members' rights are protected and guaranteed.
In the sidebar to the left, you can see how the San Diego Sheriff's joine with San Pasqual security to keep rightful voters from casting ballots. SHAMEFUL
Monday, March 16, 2009
The tribe gave Assembly GOP leader Mike Villines a $138 gift basket and paid for food, drink and dinners for Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter (100 miles away!), Assembly members Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, Connie Conway, R-Tulare, and termed-out Assembly member Nicole Parra, a Hanford Democrat.
The tribe, which opposes a casino proposed by the neighboring North Fork tribe in Madera County, is emerging as a political power player in Sacramento. Gee, that's enough to make me want to support it.
The tribe contributed $15,800 to legislative candidates in the last half of last year. And the tribe is the funding force behind the "San Joaquin Valley Leadership PAC," which last year spent $85,686 on campaign donations and independent expenditures for candidates.
The tribe gambled and won on three of four candidates it spent money on. Its losing bet? Assembly candidate Fran Florez, a Democrat, who lost to Hanford Republican Danny Gilmore. The tribe spent $32,200 on her. Isn't there a LIMIT?
Florez is the mother of state Sen. Florez, who until this year oversaw a committee with jurisdiction over gaming issues. Florez opposes the North Fork casino proposal. YA THINK? Wouldn't want the cashcow to not be happy, right Fran?
Justice for Daunte and the family. Thanks to the jurors for their hard work.
Franko Daniel Bernal , 22, of El Cajon, and McCauley, 24, of La Mesa, who could face the death penalty, were convicted today of two murder charges in connection with the November 2006 deaths of Mercado-Bates, 18, and a convenience store clerk in Lemon Grove.Daunte's sister, Sonserrie Camacho reports this: "After Bernal was found guilty on all charges including two counts of 1st degree murder. He had the nerve to say to me & my family "it's not gonna bring him back". " Happy Thanksgiving!"He is truly unbelievable! A monster! All the time he's going to get in prison isn't going to bring him back either!!
Sunday, March 15, 2009
In a meeting Friday, the board of directors unanimously voted to call off this morning’s “town hall” meeting at the Pomo Indians’ tribal offices in Healdsburg, according to a spokesman.
“They canceled the meeting because of concerns for the elders being in a confrontational situation,” said tribal spokesman Dave Hyams. “It was concern about their physical well-being.” OP: Yeah, from those threatening elders who've been disenrolled?
But one of those who planned to protest at today’s meeting and had announced plans to “confront” tribal leaders said the cancellation was not surprising.
“They don’t want to face the membership,” said Alexis Elgin. “They don’t want to hear it, so they cancel the meeting.” Pechanga did this once, they brought in metal detectors! To protect the Masiel Crime family from peaceful members.
Elgin said she and others still plan to “speak out on behalf of our fellow members in a peaceful way” at 11a.m. today at the tribal offices, just as they did last weekend outside the tribe’s River Rock Casino near Geyserville. OP: TRUTH to POWER Alexis!
The demonstration at the casino drew only a handful of protesters, but organizers said that was because many tribal members are afraid to speak out for fear they will get kicked out of the tribe and lose their jobs at the casino or tribal office. OP: SO, then, the tribe was AFRAID of only a handful of people?
Elgin, who was fired from her job as a slot machine technician in January and is also being threatened with disenrollment, claims she is being retaliated against because of her activist stance.
She and other protesters are trying to to reverse January’s tentative ouster of 73 adults and 70 children from the 970-member tribe.
At stake are monthly payments each tribal member receives from the casino — in Dry Creek’s case about $600 a month. There are also housing, health and tuition benefits that come with being a tribal member. HOW much will the payments go up when the 143 membes of the tribe are DISENROLLED?
Protesters said they wanted to press their demands for a moratorium on disenrollment proceedings and planned to call for a boycott of River Rock Casino until their demands are met.
They also want an election of the board of directors — which was canceled in December when the legitimacy of some candidates came into question — to be held within two weeks.
“We want our democratic right to vote for our leaders, and to voice our opinions without the fear of disenrollment or intimidation through firings, which is being practiced today by our current board and tribal chair,” asserted Ross Cunningham, 29, a Dry Creek tribal member who is challenging his disenrollment notice.
To be a member of the Dry Creek Rancheria, individuals must show they are descended from persons who were in a census when the rancheria was established in 1915. But they also cannot have been in another tribe in the past.
The problem is that some Indians moved onto the property after the rancheria was established. Or, they may have had a parent from a separate tribe with which they were affiliated as children.
Today’s canceled meeting was part of ongoing attempts by the tribe to resolve the controversy over the disenrollments of members and whether they should be “grandfathered” back in.
Friday, March 13, 2009
Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor says in the report released Friday that California's 10.1 percent unemployment rate, further declines in the stock market and lower tax collections have led to lower revenue projections. He expects the new $8 billion budget gap in the fiscal year that begins July 1.
State Controller John Chiang also said this week that February revenues were nearly $1 billion below previous projections.
Taylor says the deficit will grow even larger unless lawmakers and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger take action. Well THEY DID take action, they decided to RAISE our taxes.
Here's a better idea: Get gaming off the reservations, where many tribes have proved that they couldn't/wouldn't take care of all their people and bring it to the state unrestricted to federal lands. Let's let CALIFORNIA get it's regulated share, like Nevada does. The tribes have gotten a fair head start. Let's get California the money it deserves.
The group, led by former Lower Sioux Community Chairman Sheldon Wolfchild, has been suing the U.S. government since 2003, claiming rights to casino riches as descendants of Mdewakanton Indians who helped white settlers during the 1862 Dakota rebellion in Minnesota.
The descendants, numbering more than 20,000 Indians in the United States and Canada, had been bolstered in recent years by decisions in the Federal Court of Claims finding that some of the lands forming part of the present-day Mystic Lake and Treasure Island casinos were intended for their use.
But the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday invalidated earlier rulings that found the government had breached a legal 19th-century trust to the "loyal Mdewakanton." The court also found that Congress did nothing wrong in 1980 when it handed control of the lands to the present-day Shakopee Mdewakanton Dakota Community, which owns the Mystic Lake and Little Six casinos, and the Prairie Island Indian Community, which owns Treasure Island.
Membership in the two communities is limited to several hundred tribal members who enjoy millions in annual gambling profits. Many of the plaintiffs live on economically depressed reservations in Nebraska, South Dakota, and Morton, Minn.
Erick Kaardal, a Minneapolis attorney who represents Wolfchild and some 7,500 other Mdewakanton Sioux, said Thursday that he plans to appeal, probably to the U.S. Supreme Court. But Brian O'Neill, an attorney for the Shakopee tribe, said an appeal would be pointless. "This should be the end of it," he said. "It ought to be closure for an awful lot of folks who put their faith on this less-than-substantial lawsuit."
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Descendants of Freedmen Association will host its next meeting on March 14, 2009 at the Martin Luther King Center, 627 N 3rd Street, Muskogee Oklahoma begining at 2pm. It is requested that meeting attendants bring a "covered dish" to share with other meeting attendants at the beginning of the meeting. Following the meeting will be a meeting of the Freedmen band of Cherokee nation. Both meetings are free and open to the public of all races, creeds and colors.
Meeting attendants will be briefed on the upcoming demonstration in Muskogee Oklahoma on Friday March 27 2009 outside the Muskogee BIA office. 3pm. 3100 West Peak Boulevard, Muskogee. Bring your signs, your friends and your family.
A genealogy workshop will be held on April 18th, sponsored by Descendants of Freedmen association at the Langston >Oklahoma City Campus. Stay tuned for additional developments.
On February 3rd, 2009, the Cherokee nation filed a lawsuit against several individual freedmen living in the Northern DIstrict of Oklahoma. The tribal government alleges that the lawsuit was filed to "end the freedmen dispute" - ignoring the fact that the tribe has spent millions of
dollars filing numerous motions to try to dismiss the Federal case Vann versus Kempthorne (now Vann versus Salazar)....rather than allowing that case to proceed on its merits....
Cesar Caballero has fired the latest volley in the battle over which tribe is actually the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians and, ultimately, the owner of the Red Hawk Casino.
He filed a countersuit against the casino tribe on Feb. 17, claiming it is fraudulently using the identity of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians.
The tribe operating the casino was originally the Sacramento Verona Band of Indians, made up of Maidu Indians and Hawaiians, Caballero told The Bee.
Caballero says he is the elected chief of a tribe of 300 descendents of El Dorado County Miwok Indians who are being denied their tribal rights, including land on the Shingle Springs Rancheria and proceeds from the new casino.
The countersuit is not driven by greed, he said. His tribe is willing to share the casino profits and land on the Shingle Springs rancheria with the casino tribe.
"It's not about that (the casino)," Caballero said. "It's straight up about our identity. Whatever comes with it, it's the identity."
He said his tribe should be eligible for the health care, land grants and other benefits that come with being a federally recognized tribe.
Calls from The Bee to Nick Fonseca, chief of the Shingle Spring Band of Miwok Indians, and to a spokesman for Red Hawk Casino were not returned Wednesday. OP: OF COURSE NOT!
Caballero hopes a jury will stop the casino Indians from using the name Shingle Spring Band of Miwok Indians and from operating the casino.
They also are seeking unspecified damages.
Attorney Brad Clark said Caballero's tribe also is considering asking the Bureau of Indian Affairs for federal recognition as the Shingle Springs Tribe of Miwok Indians.
Clark said both tribes could conceivably share the same federal recognition.
He said the case offers the tribe led by Caballero "an open field in their pursuit of federal recognition."
If the casino tribe asks the court to dismiss Caballero's case and loses, the BIA will be "more open to discussions with the indigenous group about federal recognition," Clark said.
"If we get defeated soundly … we anticipate the BIA will react in kind on our application."
If it were turned down by the BIA for federal recognition, Clark says, the tribe could return to court.
Because of its status as a sovereign nation, Caballero would have had a difficult time pursuing a suit against the casino tribe without his being sued first, Clark said.
In January, the tribe did sue, contending that Caballero was infringing on its registered trademark by using its name. The tribe is seeking a permanent court order to keep Caballero from using the name Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. It also wants Caballero to stop representing himself as being affiliated with the tribe. The suit seeks unspecified damages, attorney's fees and any profits Caballero has made using the name.
The tribe has until March 26 to respond to Caballero's countersuit.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
Rep. Issa (R) sponsored Pechanga's land grab for a golf course, responded to NO letters from us regarding Pechanga's civil rights violations and now we know WHY.
Has car-alarm millionaire Darrell Issa, the North County GOP congressman, set his heart on the presidency, or at least the U.S. Senate? So think some observers, who point to his political action committee, Invest in a Strong and Secure America–Issa PAC, which had a big fund-raiser last Saturday in the Washington home of Jack Fields, a former Republican congressman from Texas. Set up late last year, the committee has already collected more than $50,000 in four-figure contributions from corporations, including Raytheon, Microsoft, and Qualcomm, along with three Indian tribes, Morongo, Pechanga, and the Saginaw Chippewas of Michigan. The PAC bestowed the money on the campaigns of a long list of Issa’s congressional colleagues, a good way to instill loyalty among comrades for future electoral bids.
Stand up for those whom Pechanga has CHEATED Representative ISSA, not for the CHEATERS.
CONTACT 1: Alexis Elgin, Dry Creek Tribal Member, (505) 450-5596
CONTACT 2: Ross Cunningham, Dry Creek Tribal Member, (415) 933-3411
DRY CREEK TRIBAL MEMBERS PROTEST DISENROLLMENT
WILL PUSH FOR BOYCOTT OF RIVER ROCK CASINO IF DEMANDS ARE NOT MET
HEALDSBURG, Saturday, March 14 – Dry Creek tribal members will continue their protest of the dysfunction and corruption of the Dry Creek Tribal Board led by Tribal Chairman Harvey Hopkins at Saturday’s town hall meeting at the Dry Creek Tribal Office.
Where: 190 FOSS CREEK CIRCLE, HEALDSBURG
When: 11AM – 2PM
Why: Tribal members are demanding that:
1. Two board members call a General Membership Meeting in the next two weeks;
2. A Dry Creek Board Election be held within the next two weeks;
3. A moratorium be enacted on disenrollment proceedings until after the elections;
4. The current Board’s salaries be suspended until Board Elections are held.
The Reasons Behind Our Demands:
-We believe that Tribal Chair Harvey Hopkins has hijacked the tribe’s democratic process by: Orchestrating a vote through the governing board to remove the names of 73 adults and 70 children from the rolls of the 565-member tribe; cancelling board elections in December (which risks the tribe losing Federal Recognition); stifling recall efforts and petitions submitted by tribal members; disenrolling his opposition and orchestrating the firing of opposition from the River Rock Casino without proper termination procedures.
-We have filed an official complaint with the SEC because we also believe that Tribal Chair Harvey Hopkins has committed an illegal act by: Making himself 10 percent owner of the Dry Creek Development Corporation (DCDC), despite never receiving approval to be a stakeholder by the tribal membership. This presents a conflict of interest. DCDC is responsible for constructing a $72 million “road to nowhere,” just below the casino.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
An early story from 2006
Indians decry banishment by their tribes
Protesters say power struggles, mainly over casinos, have stripped them of gaming profits
By Michael Martinez
Tribune national correspondent
Published January 14, 2006
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -- Dozens of American Indians in several states tried to launch a national movement this week as they protested the growing trend of Native Americans being denied profits from tribal casinos following political disputes. They denounced what they said was tribal corruption during demonstrations outside the Western Indian Gaming Conference here, a meeting already overshadowed by the scandal over Capitol Hill lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who pleaded guilty this month to conspiracy to defraud Indians with casino interests of more than $20 million.
Thousands of Indians nationwide--including 4,000 in California--have been stripped of or denied rightful membership in their tribes, and 75 percent of the California cases involved controversies over casinos, said Laura Wass, founder of the Many Lightnings American Indian Legacy Center in Fresno.
One of the protesters this week was Donald Wanatee, who lived for nearly all of his 73 years on an Iowa reservation but one day last spring went from tribal elder to outcast. His exile followed a struggle over a tribal casino that pitted Indian against Indian within the Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa. He, his brother and 16 other members of the tribe ultimately lost to a rival faction. Last May they stopped receiving their share of gaming profits amounting to $2,000 a month each in the 1,300-member nation in central Iowa, Wanatee said.
Disenrollments often are appealed to U.S. courts, but tribal leaders have defeated or deferred the challenges by asserting that Indian nations have sovereignty in determining membership. Tribal councils have defended the removals as legitimate and allowable under their constitutions, with due process given to all.
Anthony Miranda, chairman of the California Nations Indian Gaming Association that sponsored the gaming conference, said his group did not involve itself in enrollment disputes, saying they were local matters. "As an association we view that as an internal government issue," Miranda said. "You really have to look at that on a tribe-by-tribe basis." OP: However, the use of moral persuasion is a good tool, and one CNIGA should be employing.
About 1,500 of the disenrollments occurred after an official challenge by another tribe member or leader who questioned a fellow member's blood percentage or alleged that an ancestor left the reservation or tribe's rolls decades ago, voiding descendants' standing, according to protesters here. In the other cases, Indians often were denied recognition after tribes imposed a moratorium on enrollments, despite the individuals' long-standing ties, said Mark Maslin, a protest organizer.
Protesters reject explanations But the official explanations, protesters said, are a pretext for purging tribe members seen as a threat by a ruling faction, frequently after an argument over a tribal casino. In Maslin's case, his Indian wife, Carla, and 75 members of her extended family were thrown out of the 295-member Redding Rancheria tribe in Northern California in 2004 after a woman elder questioned a maternal lineage of Carla Maslin's grandmother.
Each of the 76 lost $3,000 a month in casino profits, Mark Maslin said. At stake is the wealth created by lucrative casinos, granted by the government since the 1980s to long-subjugated and impoverished Indian nations to promote economic development and self-sufficiency.
In one tribe, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians in California, annual payments to each member exceed $100,000, according to one disenrolled family. OP: the per-capita for Pechanga was $268,000 when the Hunter family was disenrolled, up from $175,000 when the Manuela Miranda family was disenrolled and now, it's $360,000.
Claiming civil rights violations, protesters demanded a congressional hearing to raise public awareness of the disenrollments, but Andrea Jones, a spokeswoman for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, declined to comment. While fellow protesters burned sage, some even asserted that tribal sovereignty, long a sacred political tenet among Native Americans, needs a system of checks and balances. "The corrupt tribal leadership has been using sovereignty as a personal tool to hurt you," said protester Vicky Schenandoah, 44, disenrolled and fired from her $20,000-a-year job as tribal language teacher in the Oneida Nation in New York in 1995 after she and dozens of other tribe members demonstrated for open meetings on casino operations. At the time, her casino rights paid her $1,500 a month.
"What's really happening in Indian country, with the weapon of a casino in place, the tribes are using that as a weapon of mass destruction against Indians that oppose them and anybody else," said John Gomez, 57, who was disenrolled from California's Pechanga tribe a few years ago and now is out of more than $100,000 a year in casino profit-sharing. Losing end of power struggle
"They are planning to disenroll us and banish us from the tribe," said Wanatee, who was aligned with a faction that lost a power struggle over how to conduct 2003 council elections and casino operations. The dispute shut down the casino for half of 2003. "They are going to throw us off our land," he said. A spokesman for Wanatee's tribe declined to comment.
In an encounter that illustrated the divisiveness caused by disenrollments, Lorena Foreman-Ackerman, 65, walked across a giant lawn outside the convention center and approached a member of the Redding Rancheria council that ousted her and 75 relatives. Feeling trepidation at first while wearing a black T-shirt stating "Stop Tribal Disenrollment," Foreman-Ackerman was surprised to receive a hug from the council member, Jason Hayward.
Representing the tribe in this week's gaming conference, Hayward has a son by a niece of Foreman-Ackerman's, she said. "I never voted for you to be out," Hayward told Foreman-Ackerman. "I should have said something. I think it was wrong." Foreman-Ackerman blamed another woman for starting rumors that led to the family's banishment. "To me, when somebody knows the truth and doesn't step forward ..." Foreman-Ackerman told Hayward, completing her statement with an expression of exasperation.
But Hayward, approached by a reporter, said only: "I don't want to make speeches."
Monday, March 9, 2009
With signs reading Corruption+Greed=Disenrollment and No Disenrolling for Dollars, the group quietly engaged passersby and those dropping off their cars for valet parking.
Casino management sent an emissary outside who is related to some of the protesters to tell them they wouldn’t be kicked off tribal property if they didn’t obstruct anyone or disrupt traffic. He declined to comment and refused to give his name.
The peaceful protest was the latest turn in a contentious fight for leadership of the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians, whose members receive $600 monthly checks from casino disbursements and other benefits of tribal enrollment.
Tribal Chairman Harvey Hopkins and the governing board voted in January to remove the names of 73 adults and 70 children from the rolls of the 565-member tribe. Elections in December were cancelled and infighting between Hopkins and other board members led to recall efforts started then abruptly cancelled – between leaders.
Protest leader Ross Cunningham of San Francisco, who was told he will be disenrolled, said the leaders are ignoring what tribe members want.
“Our board is valuing this casino rather than our members, he said.
The tribe’s casino in Alexander Valley posted $32.3 million in revenue for the third quarter that ended Sept. 30.
Alexis Elgin said she was told she will be removed from tribal membership, and then was fired from her casino job after presenting Hopkins with a petition against the disenrollment.
She said she was given the run-around when she went to tribal headquarters to view an audit that supposedly shows she doesn’t qualify as a member.
Contention about membership in California tribes often surfaces during election times. To be members of Dry Creek, people must show they are descended from those who were in a census when the rancheria was established in 1915 and cannot have been enrolled in another tribe in the past.
But some members have parents of different tribes and may have been affiliated with another tribe as children. And some members moved onto the rancheria after the census.
Jill Chavez of Hawaii, visiting the casino as part of a friend’s 50th anniversary celebration, supported the protesters’ demands.
“Oh, I hope you win,” she told them after asking what disenrollment meant. There is a lot of greed and corruption.
Only a half dozen protesters took part Sunday, claiming more didn’t attend because they are scared they may be targeted for disenrollment. Organizers of the protest issued several demands in a press release:
They want a general membership meeting and a board election within two weeks; a moratorium on disenrollment proceedings until after elections; and that board salaries be suspended until after elections.
Tribal board members couldn’t be reached for comment Sunday on the protesters demands.
Protesters said disenrollment is being used as a tool to oust opponents from the tribe, like Angelina Manuel, who said her home used to be on the corner where tour buses now park.
“Eighty percent of tribe members want to stop disenrollment, she said. “But they don’t listen. It’s like we don’t have any say anymore.
It's amusing to me that the tribes are concerned over California losing tax dollars if charities support themselves through bingo machines.
Tribes like Pechanga, ILLEGALLY installed bingo machines in their casino to circumvent the law that capped slot machines. Now, they want charities to shut their machines down because it's costing them MONEY.
Tribes that disenroll members like Pechanga, certainly weren't worried about the money that costs the state, due to increased health care costs, welfare, educational assistance and YES, LESS tax monies. I paid over $20,000 per YEAR in state income tax as my per capita, added to our salaries were taxed at a high rate.
From a SACBEE article:
Other casino tribes say the electronic bingo games that resemble slot machines violate their exclusive rights to Nevada-style gambling in California.
"You look at the games, and you see they are slot machines under state law," said George Forman, a lawyer representing numerous California casino tribes, including the Morongo Band of Mission Indians in Riverside County and the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Indians in San Diego County. "Over time, I think it's more likely than not that somebody is going to get upset."
Sycuan is the tribe that didn't let voters know that the membership hadn't approved extra machines when we voted on them last February.
Pechanga disenrollments have cost the state at least $5 MILLION dollars in lost INCOME tax revenue.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
We have a permanent link at the picture on our sidebar to the left.
IN OTHER NEWS: The Snoqualmie Tribe has received notice that their credit rating has received a downgrade:
Moody’s Investors Service downgraded Snoqualmie Entertainment Authority’s rating to denote that its bonds have a higher risk of not being repaid. The entertainment authority is the organization that built and operates the tribe’s casino between Snoqualmie and North Bend.
The authority was rated a B3, which means that its bonds were considered speculative and of generally poor credit quality.
OP: So, NOT ONLY has the Snoqualmie tribe failed their people at running a government FOR the people, NOW their tribe is having difficulty running their business side too. Maybe Washington citizens should stay away and go somewhere else. Ya think the machines will tighten up to make sure Snoqualmie rakes in even more?
Pechanga Member: Besides, the accusers cannot offer any factual examples of such violations. Further, the accusations boil down to angry views of this or that process, and slanted opinions of this or that rule."
WITHOUT FAIR AND IMPARTIAL HEARINGS AND WITHOUT ALL OF THE DISENROLLMENT PROCEDURES LAWFULLY FOLLOWED, THEN WHAT OUR ANONYMOUS CRITIC CONSIDERS A FOREGONE CONCLUSION HAS NOT BEEN PROVEN
AND OUR DISENROLLMENT IS NULL AND VOID.
I WILL CITE AN EXAMPLE OF THE VERY RIGHTS VIOLATIONS THAT OUR CRITIC CLAIMS DON'T EXIST.
IN 2002 THE TRIBE VOTED IN NEW MEMBERS TO THE ENROLLMENT COMMITTEE. UPON TAKING OFFICE THE NEW COMMITTEE MEMBERS, INCLUDING PEOPLE FROM THE MANUELA MIRANDA AND HUNTER FAMILIES, FOUND EVIDENCE OF DERELICTION OF DUTY ON THE PART OF MEMBERS OF THE COMMITTEE. OP: Mary Bear McGee was the head of the enrollment committee. She was later kicked out for violating the rules of confidentiality. Frances Miranda, Ihrene "I stole from the tribe" Scearse and Ruth "I spawn criminals" Masiel were members.
THE WRONGDOINGS OF THE COMMITTEE INCLUDED NOT ENROLLING PEOPLE WHO MET THE BAND'S MEMBERSHIP REQUIRMENTS WHO WERE DIRECT DESCENDANTS OF LEGALLY ENROLLED TRIBAL MEMBERS. OP: And part of the Tribe's Constitution and Bylaws"
THE NEW ENROLLMENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS INFORMED THE TRIBAL COUNCIL OF WHAT THEY HAD FOUND BUT TO THIS DAY I DON'T KNOW IF THE ALLEGATIONS WERE EVER FOLLOWED UP ON.
THE ENROLLMENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS WHO HAD THEIR ACTIONS QUESTIONED THEN FILED DISENROLLMENT PAPERS AGAINST THE NEW ENROLLMENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS, WHICH CAN CLEARLY BE SEEN AS PAYBACK FOR THE ALLEGATIONS THAT WERE MADE.
THE MEMBERS OF THE M. MIRANDA AND HUNTER FAMILIES THEN REQUESTED THAT THOSE ENROLLMENT COMMITTEE MEMBERS WHO ALLEGATIONS OF WRONGDOING HAD BEEN MADE AGAINST NOT BE ALLOWED TO RULE ON THEIR DISENROLLMENT CASES DUE TO CONFLICT OF INTEREST AND BIAS.
ALSO, PEOPLE WHO TURNED IN INFORMATON CHALLENGING THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE M. MIRANDAS AND HUNTERS INCLUDED SONS, DAUGHTERS, NIECES, AND NEPHEWS OF THE ENROLLMENT COMMITEE MEMBERS WHO HAD BEEN ASKED TO STEP ASIDE FROM RULING ON THE DISENROLLEES CASES, ANOTHER EXAMPLE OF BIAS AND CONFLICT OF INTEREST.
SO EFFECTIVELY THE SAME PEOPLE WHO CLAIMED THE DISENROLLEES WERE NOT TRUE PECHANGA PEOPLE WERE THE SAME PEOPLE WHO VOTED THEM OUT OF THE TRIBE.
THE FAIR THING WOULD HAVE BEEN FOR TRIBAL MEMBERS WHO HAD NO BIAS OR CONFLICT OF INTEREST RULE ON THE DISENROLLEES CASES BUT THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN AS THOSE COMMITTEE MEMBERS IN QUESTION WERE ALLOWED TO RULE ON THE DISENROLEES CASES.
PREDICTABLY THE DISENROLLED WERE KICKED OUT OF THE TRIBE BY ONLY A ONE VOTE MAJORITY OF THE ENROLLMENT COMMTTEE (THERE WERE THREE BIASED COMMITTEE MEMBERS) AND THEIR APPEAL TO THE TRIBAL COUNCIL WAS TURNED DOWN BY ONLY ONE VOTE.
NOT SURPISING THAT ONE OF THE COUNCILMEN IS THE SON OF ONE ENROLLMENT COMMITTEE MEMBER AND THE NEPHEW OF ANOTHER.
Again, Anonymous of Feb. 26, 2009, 2:38 PM, don't you support your own constitution against malice or prejudice of individual tribal members.
Monday, March 2, 2009
"Hence, the non-members mislead others by falsely claiming violations of civil rights and human rights. These concepts do not apply here. Tribal practice decides.
YES, TRIBAL PRACTICE DECIDES BUT WHAT IF TRIBAL LEGAL PRECEDENT AND CUSTOM AND TRADITION ARE NOT FOLLOWED?
FOR EXAMPLE, IN THE TRIBAL COUNCIL LETTER OF MARCH 14, 2006 THAT WAS SENT TO THE GENERAL MEMBERSHIP THAT SAID THE HUNTERS WERE NOT INCLUDED IN THE PETITION OF JULY 17, 2005 THAT OUTLAWED DISENROLLMENT, THE TRIBAL COUNCIL CLAIMED THAT THE ENROLLMENT COMMITTEE WAS THE FINAL AUTHORITY IN ALL ISSUES OF ENROLLMENT AND THAT THE GENERAL MEMBERSHIP COULD NOT INTERRUPT OR QUESTION DECISIONS OF THE COMMITTEE REGARDING ENROLLMENT OR DISENROLLMENT.
BY THE WAY, THE HUNTERS RECEIVED THEIR LETTERS INFORMING THEM THEY WERE DISENROLLED DATED MARCH 16, 2006. OBVIOUSLY TOO LATE TO RESPOND TO THE TRIBAL COUNCIL RULING OF JUST TWO DAYS PREVIOUS.
HOWEVER, TRIBAL LAW PRECEDENT, CUSTOM AND TRADITION, AS WELL AS THE PECHANGA CONSTITUTION AND BYLAWS THAT SAYS THE GENERAL MEMBERSHIP IS THE FINAL AUTHORITY IN ALL MATTERS OF TRIBAL GOVERNMENT SAYS JUST THE OPPOSITE.
THE PRECEDENT I WILL AGAIN CITE IS THIS. AT A SPECIAL SINGLE SUBJECT TRIBAL MEMBERSHIP MEETING HELD ON APRIL 20, 1986 THE HEIRS OF ROSE MURPHY, INCLUDING CURRENT PECHANGA COUNCILMAN RUSSELL BUTCH MURPHY, HAD THE ENROLLMENT COMMITTEE'S DECISION NOT TO ENROLL THEM OVERRULED BY A VOTE OF THE GENERAL MEMBERSHIP.
SO MR. MURPHY IS LIVING BREATHING PROOF THAT THE GENERAL MEMBERSHIP IS THE FINAL AUTHORITY ON MEMBERSHIP ISSUES.
This person has frequented our blog, as do others from Pechanga. In fact, Pechanga checks our blog more often than many of our family members. Thanks for that.
“Please know, Dear Reader that civil rights have nothing to do with a tribal membership dispute. Instead, an internal tribal process governs the determination of membership. Settled law and policy have long held that tribes determine their own membership in their own forum."
YES, TRIBES HAVE A RIGHT TO DETERMINE WHO THEIR OWN MEMBERS ARE BUT CIVIL RIGHTS HAVE EVERYTHING TO DO WITH IT IF KEY STEPS OF THE DISENROLLMENT PROCEDURES ARE NOT FOLLOWED AND BIASED, PARTIAL PEOPLE WITH A PERSONAL STAKE IN THE OUTCOME OF THE DISENROLLMENT CASES ARE ALLOWED TO VOTE ON DISENROLLMENT CASES.
ALSO, IF SOME FAMILIES WERE CLEARED FROM DISENROLLMENT WITH THE SAME INFORMATION IN THEIR FAMILY HISTORY THAT THE DISENROLLEES WERE DISENROLLED FOR, THIS SHOWS BIAS AGAINST THE DISENROLLED FAMILIES.
WHY DON'T YOU SUPPORT FOLLOWING YOUR OWN PECHANGA CONSTITUTION?
WHICH 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 THE INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS OF EACH MEMBER WITHOUT MALICE OR PREJUDICE."
All this commenter has to fall back on is sovereignty and while it is hard to prove that internal procedures were not followed in our disenrollment cases because we were denied copies of any of the official transcripts of the disenrollment hearings, we can show through the public record that families who were cleared from disenrollment had the same information we were disenrolled for in their family histories.
OP: No attorneys, no right to confront our accusers, no writing implements allowed, herded together to hear our cases. Ring a bell in history?
With millions of dollars flowing into the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino near Coarsegold each month, the Indians of the Picayune Rancheria have tapped into a source of wealth they hope will end decades of poverty.
But not everyone gets to share the bounty.
Over the last several years, the tribe has expelled about half its members, stripping them of their Native American heritage, former members say.
Hundreds have been cut from the rolls even though many could clearly document their Chukchansi descent, they said. Some had been tribal leaders. Even two of the last 10 people who speak the tribe's language were removed, one former member said.
Those who were kicked out of the tribe, including the jobless or elderly, lost health-care benefits, Pacific Gas & Electric Co. subsidies, college scholarships and any hope for a share of casino profits.
Those who remain could receive significantly larger payouts from the casino now that membership has been slashed, former members say.
"What better way to get more money in the future than to whittle down your tribe?" asked Mary Chapman, a 71-year-old retired Fresno County worker who says she was expelled after she questioned the disenrollments.
Tribal Chairman Morris Reid says the disenrollments were necessary to correct past membership mistakes and had nothing to do with increasing the wealth of remaining tribal members. OP: This is a standard answer from many tribes. Do you think they all went to the SAME disenrollment seminar, or got their legal advice from the SAME law firms?
"We had to find out if they were qualified Chukchansi," he said. "It was a process and procedure that had to be followed."
But some who have been expelled say the move contradicts the original purpose of Indian gaming: to draw a long-suffering people out of poverty and unite them in prosperity.
"It's really a sad day when your people are engaging in the theft of your identity to line their pockets," said Cathy Cory, a special-education teacher in Porterville who was disenrolled along with 41 members of her family. OP: Cathy has been out front for those who were disenrolled from Picayune, mostly alone and standing up for hundreds.
The Chukchansi tribe had 23 members two decades ago after it was officially recognized by the federal government. The tribe boosted membership to more than 1,500 by the late 1990s, in part to increase federal aid, tribal leaders later said. OP: WILL the tribe RE-imburse the federal government for all the money and benefits they received for those tribal members they now have eliminated?
Then, as the sparkling casino doors swung open in 2003, the seven-member tribal council decided it had enrolled too many people. It ordered a membership audit and, according to former members, kicked out more than 500 members in 2006. It had already expelled more than 200 members years earlier. OP: Thats..uh, 700.
Those disenrolled include retirees and children, teachers and college students -- some in the Valley and others scattered across the country. The tribal council voted to kick out members who had served on tribal committees and on the tribal council, and booted at least one sitting council member. Others were removed from the tribe even though their blood relatives were allowed to stay.
The federal government hasn't recorded membership since 2005, but former members say the tribe has about 760 people. Reid, the chairman, estimated membership at 900 to 1,100, but said he did not have an exact count. OP: REID, therefore must be a liar. They don't have a complete membership roll? He can't come closer than a 200 member spread? Can we trust someone like HIM to pay California our rightful share of casino profits?
Read the LINK above for the complete story. This is NOT what we voted on.