Guest blogger Mark Maslin of tribalcorruption.com weighs in on the Pinoleville Rancheria controversy. Thanks Mark. Readers, please be sure to check the Tribal Corruption site and learn more about what is happening in Indian Country.
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.