The leaders of the Dry Creek Rancheria canceled a tribal meeting scheduled for today, citing fears over the safety of elders during a planned protest by dissident tribal members.
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.