Monday, March 9, 2009

Small Protest by Dry Creek Pomo Indians over disenrollment of over 20% of Tribe

A small group of Dry Creek Pomo Indians protested the disenrollment of six dozen of their family and friends Sunday at the entrance to the tribe’s cash cow, the River Rock Casino.

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.


Anonymous said...

No you as a tribe do not have a say. Just like countless other tribes that have voted to stop disenrollment only to be over ruled by council. It doesn't matter how much money the tribe is making they will always want more and nothing will stop them, they're sovereign, remember.

Anonymous said...

"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."

If this eighty percent number is true, than the BIA certainly does have an obligation to address the dis-enrollments.

"Indian Reorganization Act As Currently Amended and Codified in Title 25 >
Chapter 14 > Subchapter V > Sections 461 to 479

Sec. 476 - Organization of Indian tribes; constitution and bylaws and amendment
thereof; special election
(a) Adoption; effective date
Any Indian tribe shall have the right to organize for its common welfare, and may adopt
an appropriate constitution and bylaws, and any amendments thereto, which shall become
effective when:
ratified by a majority vote of the adult members of the tribe or tribes at a special
election authorized and called by the Secretary under such rules and regulations as the
Secretary may prescribe; and
approved by the Secretary pursuant to subsection (d) of this section"
Even without the authority of secretarial approval for a tribal election, the BIA still has to engage in government to government relations with the understanding that the Native government operates under general consensus or majority will. Of course as I said before, majority will can not be an excuse for human rights

Anonymous said...

When is the U.S. Government going to wake up and do something about this disenrollment epidemic?

It is happening over and over again and the the outlaws are acting like they can continue to do whatever they want and then hide behind sovereignty, I am hate that word now.

Those of us who have been disenrolled from our tribes or who are going to be disenrolled were and are still citizens of the United States of America with rights.

Wake up U.S. government!

Anonymous said...

The US Government will "wake up" when more people get involved. Right now, there are few people carrying the load for many.

Simple letters or postcards will help. Letters to the editors will also help. Telling your friends and neighbors to spread the word. Notifying others on MySpace, Facebook and Twitter will expand the base.

Commenting on Politicians websites or better yet, calling their local offices will increase their knowledge or interest leve.

Any of the above soundly beats the "I wish they would wake up" or why won't someone DO something mantras.

We/you/us have to me MORE proactive and encourage our family's to get back into the game.

Luiseno said...

Why is it that people assume that no others besides themselves are involved in the above mentioned actions? I write to those in office, write to news stations, post on every site I can think of, speak to those I know, and even people who I don't know about the problem. And even though it seems I am being ignored, I will continue to do so.

Anonymous said...

Luiseno, I think the poster who is saying more people should get involved is not talking about us.

O.P., you, T'eetilawuncha, Creeper, I, and some others, I am sure, are the ones he or she is talking about as being the few that are involved and we are carrying the load and others need to step up and get involved.