Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Beneath the Glitter of Indian Gaming at Chukchansi-Picayune

Issues with disenrollment didn't happen overnight in California, it happened as casinos came up.

Beneath the Glitter

As the $150 million Chukchansi resort readies for its casino opening June 25, 200 tribe members kicked out four years ago fight to become members again.

By Lisa Aleman-Padilla and George Hostetter
The Fresno Bee

(Updated Monday, June 16, 2003, 4:23 AM)

The biggest, most expensive and most controversial American Indian casino/entertainment complex in central San Joaquin Valley history is expected to make its debut in eastern Madera County in 10 days. With it comes a long-simmering and increasingly bitter tribal civil war over who will pocket the profits of a business that eventually could rake in $200 million or more a year.

Carved out of a once-forlorn swath of rocks and brush in the Sierra Nevada foothills near Coarsegold, the gamblers' half of the Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino is all but finished.
That's the casino, home to 1,800 slot machines and more than 40 card tables. June 25 is the planned opening date, according to the owners, the Chukchansi Indians of Picayune Rancheria.

The 192-room hotel is expected to open next door in August. The total project's estimated cost: $150 million.
Indian gaming has been a fixture in the six-county central San Joaquin Valley for two decades. Gamblers, though, have seen nothing locally like the Chukchansi digs -- nearly 300,000 square feet of casino, hotel and entertainment venues.

Nor has there been anything here quite like the Chukchansi membership fight that has brewed for four years. Its roots go back even further. Twenty years ago, the tribe had only 30 members, the result of federal policy dating back to the Eisenhower administration designed to terminate Indian lands such as rancherias. The thinking, at least among non-Indians, was that Indians should be assimilated into mainstream America.

It took several decades of court battles, but many tribes finally regained their legal recognition and the right to renew their lives on rancherias. In a word, they were "reconstituted."
By the late 1990s, with the Chukchansi tribe legally reborn, a liberal enrollment policy raised the membership total to more than 1,000.

Then, in 1999, as negotiations with a casino management company neared a critical juncture, nearly 200 people were suddenly kicked out of the tribe.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Redux: Pechanga Abuse of It's Senior Customer is Comparable to Redding Rancheria's Actions

Original Pechanga is on vacation, here's a post from November 2008 by Carla Foreman-Maslin, AIRRO member and fighting for justice for ALL in Indian Country.

Today, guest blogger, Carla Foreman-Maslin, disenrolled member of the Redding Rancheria, and AIRRO member compares the latest news of Pechanga's abuse of power in the beating of Richard Swan that we've been discussing for days, with her tribe's casino in Redding. Thank you Carla for your contributions

This sounds a lot like Redding Rancheria. They have harassed, threatened & beat up employees, customers, their own tribal members & other Indian people who have been invited to participate in events or have come to put their money into the casino.

It is a very shameful time for tribes and their citizens who have allowed this type of behavior. The dictatorships and the bullying that is taking place is so outrageous and it really looks bad on American Indians everywhere.

I never thought I would see it all come down to this. I was always proud to be a part of what I felt was a historic time in this country when I witnessed my dad, who was our Tribal Chairman at a gathering of all Tribal Leaders at a Senate meeting in Washington, DC. I witnessed the Tribal Elders along with other Tribal Leaders who fought in the Vietnam war tell stories of their tribes and how they struggled with poverty, etc. I watched grown men cry as they testified on why Indian Gaming was going to help Tribes with economic development for their people to be able to have education, housing, health benefits through self reliance.

I believed in this vision and was proud to see it all come to life. I stood in the field with other Indian people and Mark Macarro when we filmed for Prop 5. I participated along with other California Indians in San Francisco when we all demonstrated for Indian Gaming in California. I will never forget the march to the steps of the Ninth Circuit Court with all the other Native men, women and children.

And now to see what has become a terrible disrespect to some tribes not only to their tribal citizens, but to our elders who have passed on and fought to live to see their children survive and make something of themselves through education. I was going to college when my rights and my family's rights were violated. I lost my education as the tribe was paying for it. Many other family members lost the same rights to their education.

I am appalled that those rights and other rights have been stolen by people who have no right to take the most sacred part of our being away from us. This is such a crime and the criminals have to answer for it. The fact that the loophole of "sovereignty" has allowed them to push their crime to other levels is a joke.

This is a major crime to any human being. Sovereignly is not for committing crimes against humanity, it is to be used as a protection for people. Whoever thought of using sovereignty as a way to protect their crimes has a very dark and evil mind. It is as evil as the mind of Hitler and other evil dictators throughout the world.

The victims need to stand up for their rights and continue to protect what is rightfully theirs. Teach your children to stand for their rights. There is nothing wrong when it is right. The only wrong is letting the criminals continue to commit crimes against the victims. In this case, the criminals have been given fame, when they deserve shame.

Greed, power and corruption has ultimately become a way of life for some of these tribal leaders and as long as they get away with it without justice, more tribal leaders will figure out that they can do the same to any tribal member, because they are untouchable. I never thought I would ever see such injustice in this time in our lives. Shame on those who don't stand for the innocent victims.

I would like to see a hero rise up and take a stand for our American Indians who have lost their voices and their rights.

Peace & Love
Carla Foreman-Maslin

Redux: Concerning Disgraceful Actions by the Pechanga Tribal Council

Original Pechanga and Mrs. OP are on vacation. Here is a previous post concerning the Paulina Hunter Family Disenrollment. Thank you all for your continued support of this blog. Please tell your friends.

Concerning Disgraceful Actions by the Pechanga Tribal Council

In a notice dated August 7, 2006, the descendants of Paulina Hunter, an original allottee of the Pechanga Indian Reservation, were informed that the Pechanga Tribal Council and the Pechanga Enrollment Committee had denied their appeal to over-turn the Enrollment Committee's earlier decision to disenroll the family.

The Hunter Family members were disenrolled in March of this year when the Enrollment Committee concluded that their ancestor, Paulina Hunter, was not a Temecula Indian.
Along with disenrollment notices from the Enrollment Committee, a memo from the Tribal Council explained that it had decided that a law passed by the Tribe's governing body in July 2005 to bar future disenrollments applied to all tribal members except the Hunter Family.

The disenrollment of the Hunter family was initiated when several statements were presented to the Enrollment Committee (Bobbi LeMere, Ihrene Scearse, Frances Miranda, Ruth Masiel) claiming Paulina Hunter was non-Indian or not a member. One such letter came from a convicted felon currently serving time in the California State Prison system for child molestation. (Since original post, he was released to the Temecula area)

In response to the allegations, the descendants of Paulina Hunter provided numerous documents as proof that Paulina Hunter was indeed of Indian ancestry and was an original Pechanga/Temecula Indian.

In fact, a report prepared by Dr. John Johnson, the curator of anthropology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, at the request of the Enrollment Committee concluded that a "preponderance of the evidence" from surviving historical records and census documents shows that Paulina Hunter was a Pechanga member who lived in Temecula and was allotted reservation land. There is no greater authority on this issue than Dr. Johnson.

"My feeling is it's a faulty interpretation of the record to reject this family. Paulina Hunter was definitely a core member of the Temecula Band of Luiseño Indians," Dr. Johnson said. "I don't understand the decision other than it is not based on fact. It is based on conjecture and politics."

The disenrollment of the Hunter family is the second such disenrollment of a large family from the Pechanga Band. Each has occurred just months before scheduled tribal elections for Chairman and Tribal Council.

The expulsions of the 2 families removed significant opposition to the current administration and others running for tribal office. Each "disenrollment" was done in violation of both tribal and federal laws which are intended to protect the rights and privileges of tribal members.

Specifically, the members were denied the due process and equal rights protections provided in the Indian Civil Rights Act, as well as language in the Band's Constitution and Bylaws which mandates that tribal officials uphold the individual rights of each member without malice or prejudice. The disenrollments reduced the Pechanga Band's enrollment by nearly 30%, and each enrolled member, including those responsible for the violations of human and civil rights, could reap additional profits in the tens of millions of dollars.

Here's a story that was in the LA TIMES in 2007:

Clan says tribe dealt it a bad hand - A family finds itself cut off from the Pechanga group and its casino wealth despite long ties to the reservation.
By David Kelly
September 09, 2007

When Pechanga Indian leaders hired anthropologist John Johnson in 2004, they had one request: find out if the Madariaga clan were truly members of the tribe.

Generations of them had grown up on the reservation. Family patriarch Lawrence Madariaga, 90, had built his home there, erected the local clinic, served on tribal committees and lived on Hunter Lane, named after his great-grandmother, Paulina Hunter. He even received a lifetime achievement award from the tribe.

That didn't quiet suspicions among some who felt that family members were frauds unfairly pocketing $20,000 each in monthly checks from casino profits.

Johnson, curator of anthropology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and an expert on Luiseño Indian genealogy, spent months poring over documents and concluded that the family was indeed descended from Hunter. And based on the evidence, he said he was 90% certain she was a Temecula Indian from the Pechanga reservation. Members must show proof of lineal descent from an original tribal ancestor.

Johnson presented his findings to the tribal enrollment committee, explained what it meant and then watched it all be ignored.

Last year the committee voted out the family -- a total of 90 adults and about 50 children.

The monthly checks stopped. The healthcare stopped. The children were forced from the tribal school. Family members were able to keep their homes on the land allotted to Paulina Hunter in 1897 but were restricted as to where they could go on the reservation.

Since their ouster, family members say, payments to remaining members are now about $30,000 a month.

Lawsuit filed

In May, they filed a lawsuit against tribal leaders, including Mark Macarro, the chairman, demanding to be reinstated. They said their lineage was better documented than most and that their ancestor was one of the original residents of the reservation.

The case is now pending in federal court in Los Angeles.

Macarro did not respond to interview requests, but in a statement on the tribe's website he denied that casino money played a part in the disenrollments. He said tribes need the ability to "correct past errors and protect the integrity of their citizenry."

"The responsibility of determining who is and is not a citizen of the tribe falls squarely on Indian tribes," he said.

The same argument has been used across the nation as tribes, nearly all with casinos, have expelled thousands of members.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Pechanga Indian Removal Acts

I'll be on vacation for a week, and I'd like to offer up some previous posts that our new readers can catch up on. Time constraints wouldn't allow be to organize these better. Please tell your friends about this blog and come back often! Here's one from January 2008.
The explosion of Indian Gaming in California has lead to some acts that tribes such as Pechanga Band of Temecula would like to keep as “family secrets.” Removing Indians from tribes, pronouncing them non-Indians, had the same effect as Andrew Jackson’s Indian Removal Acts had in 1830’s America. Get the Indians we don’t want or like out of the way.

In 2004 and 2005, as part of the Concerned Pechanga People’s Indian Removal Policy, members of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians were forced to give up their membership in the tribe whose reservation is in Temecula, CA. Life-long members, who have had land on the reservation for centuries were forcibly expelled from the tribe. This act of paper genocide has had devastating effects on 25% of the Pechanga people.

Elders no longer qualify for the health care that they lobbied the tribe to provide for all its members. The young are not allowed to attend the reservation’s school, being forcibly blocked and told to leave, much in the manner of the white racists who blocked black children from integrating schools in Little Rock in the 1950’s.

Those who were removed, face an unsecured financial future. Many worked for the tribe, were part of all events, meetings, have their dead buried in the Pechanga Cemetery. Now, that has ended. In order to increase the per capita ($15,000 per month at the time of the first removal) some of the descendents of Pablo Apis, the family of Manuela Miranda were terminated from the tribe. Per capita grew to $20,000 per month (plus bonuses) for those remaining, members of the Concerned Pechanga People initiated a misinformation campaign, one that has successfully terminated over 300 Native Americans of Pechanga descent at the time of the second removal (the descendents of Paulina Hunter.) The per capita is now reportedly $40,000 per month.

Blood relatives are banished from the reservations, families who are no longer in the tribe, but live on the reservation property that they’ve owned since the late 1800’s live in fear that the tribe will take away their water, which has been threatened by some of the remaining tribal members. Will Pechanga really turn off their lifeblood, as easily as they took away their civil rights? It’s not difficult to think so, after the atrocities that the CPP have already committed.

The Concerned Pechanga People

This is the group of people that let the blackness of greed take over their hearts and minds.

The Splinter Group

This group is an offshoot of the 1980’s Splinter Group, led by Russell Murphy and assisted by Frances Miranda and Ihrene Scearse (later on the enrollment committee and committed to removing tribal members). Non-enrolled members of Pechanga, they started attending meetings and disrupted the regular goings on of the business. They announced that they were separating from the band and forming their own Tribe. They petitioned the BIA to recognize them, but the BIA refused.

With few exceptions, no member of the splinter group applied for membership because they knew they could not meet the constitutional requirements established by the Pechanga Band.

The actions of the splinter group raise legitimate questions: Are they really Pechanga? Are they able to document their lineal descent from an Original Pechanga Temecula Person as the Pechanga Bands Constitution and Bylaws require? Did they figure that disruption of tribal matters was the way to go?

This is not the portrait of a tribe in need, asking the people of California to allow tribes to have Las Vegas type gaming such as portrayed in the Prop. 1A and Prop. 5 television commercials of the 1990’s. This is about power, greed and violations of civil rights, voting rights, and elder abuse. It’s about tribal governments wielding sovereignty like a club and it’s about individual Indians that have nowhere to turn for justice.

I’ll explore this more in future posts, with thoughts on expanded gaming in California and what it feels like to be told you aren’t who you know you are.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Native Hearts: Story of Pechanga Woman's Pain

My Cousin described on her blog what being disenrolled means to her:

With all this disenrollment going on my Rez in Pechanga I've had many of my people from the tribe and surrounding tribes come and talk and give their support from one Native heart to another. It's amazing you know to see your own people that you were sure you knew through new eyes.

I think the worst part of what I've come to realize from my disenrollment is how few Native people can really see what has been taken from me. It's a shame so many of our people are being blinded by money.But what keeps me going are those of you feel my heartache like your own without me having to say a word.

Thats what I mean when I say Native heart, I've found I can see it in the eyes. Eyes that express emotions shared by Native hearts from a shared pain that runs so deep in our souls we've come to recognize one another by the fire it feeds. I must thank everyone of you who come to me no different then you ever have, and those who come right out and bring it up, or ask how my family is, and most of all, all of you who say "FUCK UM!!" before I ever have too.

In fact I ran into an old friend in the casino last night (hey, it's still mine & where my friends are) I have not seen since it happened and I got to thank him because its people like him who keep me going like nothings changed and remind me of why I love my people so. He comes up to me and the one of the first things he says is " Hey they disenrolled you huh? So how'd that feel?" I was suprised because that was the first time I was ever asked that. To make it even better all I got to say in response was "Man, guy it still..." then he cut me off and said how he couldn't believe they did that to me and how its so fu**** up and not to worry because they will pay for it in the end.

How now all we do is watch them ruin it for all Pechanga cause they can't even see it happening. And therein lies my strength my friends are what holds me up. All of you who say this money ain't worth it and you'd give it up and be poor again just to go back to the days when we all watched over and took care of each other. The ones who love "Rez Life" because it was our life. Something these ones will never know nothing about probably wouldn't want to might disgust them the way we live. But to us it just looks like HOME,baby.Thats what we love not this casino shit.

Keep the $ just give me back my people!! I am grateful for all of you who bother to care for even a moment.

All my Love & all my Life for you, My People.

The THREE Pechanga Indian MASSACRES

Original Pechanga is on Vacation, here is an article that was previously posted on the family blog:

There are three Pechanga Massacres in our last 175 years. 1847, 2004, 2006

1846 - Up to 125 Luisenos were killed in a December attack in retaliation for the killings of 11 Pauma persons who had stolen horses.

2004 - Over 300 Pechanga men, women and children from Temecula Band of Luiseno Indians were eliminated by a corrupt enrollment committee.

2006 - Over 200 more Pechanga men, women and children, including award winning elders were eliminated by same enrollment committee and supported by the corrupt Pechanga Tribal Council.

Pechanga has eliminated more of their tribe than any outside force in it's recorded history. Congratulations to Pechanga for the mass extermination of their people. Blood drips from the knife wounds in the back........ and thru the heart

Even a Five Member Tribe Can't Get Along

7 people can't agree who is in the tribe? Come on, aren't you embarrassed?

An internal dispute continues regarding who is actually a member of the Alturas Rancheria, with the individual the Bureau of Indian Affairs recognizes as its chairman claiming that there are seven voting members, and the individual the BIA recognizes as vice-chairman claiming there are only five voting members. There is also a dispute over who currently holds office and who has been voted out.

Rancheria Chairman Phillip Del Rosa’s representative, Wayne Smith, provided the Daily News with a list of the seven individuals Del Rosa states have voting rights: Del Rosa, Vice-Chairman Darren Rose, Del Rosa’s sister Wendy Del Rosa, who serves as rancheria secretary/treasurer, and members Jennifer Christman, Joseph Burrell, Don Packingham and Calvin Phelps.

Rose told the Daily News Thursday that only the first five have voting rights, as Packingham and Phelps were only awarded honorary membership in the rancheria.
“They don’t have Native (American) blood, so they can’t have a voting membership,” he said. “They are business partners, so we gave them honorary memberships. They are part of our tobacco deal. We plan to start manufacturing our own cigarettes.”

A tobacco shop has opened on the land in the south Yreka area that was originally slated for a casino; plans for a gaming establishment there were eventually scrapped for a variety of reasons. Rose said the manufacturing aspect of the tobacco business is currently on hold.
“We need to straighten out our business relationship first,” he said, referring to Packingham’s and Phelps’ membership status.

The BIA currently recognizes the same five members Rose does.
“At this point we are referring back to the (rancheria) election of a year ago,” Dr. Virgil Akins, the BIA’s Northern California Agency superintendent in the Redding office told the Daily News recently. That election involved just the five members.

“This is to acknowledge receipt of the Report of Tribal Election submitted to this Agency on May 22, 2008, for the Alturas Rancheria Tribal Election. According to the report for the Tribal Election held on April 7, 2008, the following individuals were elected to serve for a term of 2 years to June 2010: Phillip Del Rosa, Chairman; Darren Rose, Vice-Chairman; (and) Wendy Del Rosa, Secretary/Treasurer,” a May 30, 2008 letter sent by Akins to chairman Del Rosa stated.
Akins is well aware of the current dispute.

“They are moving toward mediation with Indian Dispute Resolution Services out of Sacramento,” he said. That non-governmental agency did not respond to a recent email request to discuss the issue sent by the Daily News.
“Everything is subject to change, but that’s where we are today,” Akins concluded. “We hope that they resolve their dispute internally.”
Del Rosa acknowledges that the BIA only recognizes the five members currently.
“The Bureau would absolutely go with the first five,” he said. “The last two are still an issue.”
Del Rosa stated that only he and his sister actually have Alturas Rancheria blood, and that everyone else was adopted into the rancheria, which has historical ties to northeastern California’s Pit River Tribe.
“We are the only direct lineal descendants of this tribe; all the others are adoptees (into the rancheria)”, he said.
Rose was adopted by the rancheria when plans for the casino were developing; he has partial ownership of the site where the casino was to be located. Construction of the casino complex was halted when the project itself was put on hold.
The issue of who has voting rights is crucial to both sides. Rose stated that the Del Rosas were voted out of their positions recently by a 3-2 majority of the five members he recognizes. Del Rosa said that Rose was voted out of his position by a 4-3 majority of the seven members that he recognizes as having voting rights.
The dispute has even gotten physical. Rancheria member Joseph Burrell was arrested for assault and battery on April 23 in Alturas, a Modoc County Sheriff Dept. spokesman told the Daily News recently. The spokesman would not release any more information than that, but Del Rosa claims that he was the victim of that assault.
Clouding the membership issue was an April 9, 2009 letter sent to Rose by the California Department of Justice’s Division of Law Enforcement-Bureau of Gambling Control which implied that that agency agreed that Del Rosa had been voted out of the chairmanship.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

USC's Annenberg School of Journalism to Look Into Tribal Disenrollments

We received this communique from Brian Frank of the USC/Annenberg School of Journalism:

I want to talk to as many people as possible. For the main story, I will focus on just a few tribes, but I’m planning to create a forum of some sort so that people can tell their own stories and they will all become part of a larger package.

This could be text, video, audio, just about anything. I’d like to encourage people to do this as it will contribute to a larger document of why people are being disenrolled and what’s happening to them afterward.

Please contact Brian Frank at: YOU can help spread the word on your tribe's disenrollment actions.

We've had stories about Pechanga disenrollments: HERE and HERE and we've discussed Redding Rancheria HERE San Pasqual HERE and Picayune Rancheria HERE and HERE

Now's your chance to BE HEARD. Contact Brian.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Sen. Tom Coburn Opposes Echohawk for Indian Affairs

U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, did not attend the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs meeting, but the panel’s top Republican announced Coburn wanted to be recorded as a "no” vote.

Coburn’s office did not respond to a request for a comment for this story.

EchoHawk is a member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma. He was born in Wyoming and moved to New Mexico. During his confirmation hearing last week, EchoHawk generated concern from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., over the issue of Indian gaming.

McCain told EchoHawk his answers to questions on the National Indian Gaming Commission and off-reservation gaming were not sufficient. Since that hearing, EchoHawk submitted additional answers to the committee.

McCain also did not attend Thursday’s meeting, but instead submitted a statement in which he expressed disappointment in what he described as the nominee’s "less-than-candid answers.”

Santa Ysabel May Kick Out Hernandez

The Santa Ysabel Band of Mission Indians has launched an effort to remove its tribal chairman, Johnny Hernandez.

The tribe's seven-member Legislature signed a petition earlier this month to remove the chairman from office for allegedly misappropriating $27,180 of the tribe's money late last year for court services.

Santa Ysabel, which owns a casino near Lake Henshaw, has had an ongoing feud between its chairman and vice chairwoman, Brandie Taylor.

Taylor said Thursday that the tribe will conduct a hearing June 6 on the petition to remove Hernandez.

"Then, if the Legislators unanimously vote him out, then the next day at the general council meeting, there will be a secret ballot vote to keep him in office or not," Taylor said in a written statement. "The final say is the general council."

Adults among the 650-member tribe constitute its general council, which elects the chairman.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Tribal Adoption Bill Progressing in CA, But are the right questions being asked?

The Press Enterprise reports that a bill to provide culturally sensitive adoptions for California Indian tribes has passed two major hurdles in the Assembly.

The measure would provide judges and tribes with an additional option to consider when deciding on the adoptions of Indian children who are dependents of the courts.
The method, known as customary adoption, would allow California Indian children to be adopted through tribal custom and traditions or based on the laws of the child's respective tribe.

The termination of parental rights, something frowned upon among many tribes, would not be required, marking it a first for adoptions in California, according to the legislation.

The bill passed the Assembly human services and judiciary committees late last month and now heads to the appropriations committee for review.

"A lot of kids are adrift. This way, you have that option of coming back into the Native American culture and community," said Inland Assemblyman Paul Cook, the bill's co-author.

"You belong to them," said Cook, R-Yucca Valley. "They will immerse you in that culture."

The bill is co-authored by Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, and Cook said the bipartisan support should help the measure move through the Assembly.

No members voted against the bill in the two committees.

The bill, which is sponsored by the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians, has widespread support among more than a dozen California tribes, including the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians.

OP: THIS is a JOKE. Pechanga is better known for destroying family ties to the tribe. They have eliminated 25% of their membership and they want to wipe the STAIN of that away by supporting an adoption bill? They have torn 100 CHILDREN AWAY FROM THE TRIBE and kept another 100 OUT.

The new adoption method would maintain a child's legal ties to the tribe, which is important for such things as inheritance, she said. Tribal adoptions also would allow contact with the child's birthparents, if safe and appropriate, she said.

"This is a decision the tribe makes," Currie said. "The tribe is involved in the process and the tribe is the only one who can say we want this to be a customary adoption."

Monday, May 11, 2009

David Roosevelt NEW Leader of Cabazon Band of Mission Indians

James out as Cabazon tribal chair

Roosevelt is new leader in vote James says showed group wanted change

Debra Gruszecki
The Desert Sun

INDIO — John A. James has been voted out of power by the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians.

James was 46 when he was elected tribal secretary-treasurer on May 14, 1977, and was elevated to the role of tribal chairman in 1989.

Shortly after last week's vote, second vice-chairman David Roosevelt was elected to chair the tribe. James was named to the honorary and paid post of Tribal Elder.

“They decided to go with the young bloods,” James said this week, as the tribal leader confirmed the council shakeup. “When they started their pitch, I said I was all set to retire, but with the economy turned on its face, this isn't the time to change command.”

Ultimately, James said the election showed the group wanted change.

“It was the old newer-is-better speech,” he said.

Roosevelt, who had completed serving a four-year term as second vice chairman, did not return calls for comment. Nor did others affiliated with the tribe, or the Cabazon Band's Fantasy Springs Resort Casino and Special Events Center in Indio.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

UPDATE: AIRRO is now on Facebook. Membership Meeting Scheduled in Sacramento

UPDATE: The location of the meeting has CHANGED!


Due to a scheduling conflict with the State capitol, the AIRRO meeting has been moved to a new venue. The meeting is still scheduled for Saturday, May 16th from 10:00 am to 1:00 pm. A Special Thanks goes to Board Member Eric Enriquez, who found a new place in Sacramento.

The new meeting location is:

Sacramento Native American Health Center
2020 J Street - 2nd Floor
Sacramento, CA 95811

Feel free to park in the parking lot spaces marked 'Indian Health' and enter through the Parking Lot side door. Here is a map:

For those of you on Facebook, you can become a fan of AIRRO. Please check it out. Also, there is a membership meeting coming up in Sacramento, CA. Please try to join in and bring some friends.

American Indian Rights and Resources Organization

Friday, May 8, 2009

Former Mashpee Wampanoag Leader, Glenn Marshall, Convicted Thief, Sentenced to 34 Year

Glenn Marshall was merely a "pawn" in a scheme to make illegal campaign contributions and defraud the government, his attorney told a federal judge yesterday. B.S.

"He didn't know what he was doing half the time," Paul Markham told Judge Rya Zobel during Marshall's sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court.

But Zobel wasn't buying it.

The judge sentenced Marshall to 3½ years in federal prison for several crimes he pleaded guilty to in February, including embezzling nearly $400,000 from the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to pay his own bills, making illegal campaign contributions, filing false tax returns and fraudulently receiving Social Security benefits while holding a full-time job.

Yesterday's hearing began with an attempt by Markham to withdraw the plea agreement reached between Marshall and the government in December, and ended with an apology from the former leader of the Mashpee Wampanoag tribe to "my people."

Marshall was also ordered to serve three years of supervised release and repay the $383,000 he stole from the tribe and the $85,000 he received in fraudulent payments from the Social Security Administration.

He will report on his own accord to a yet-to-be-determined facility on June 8.

"I think that the defendant, Mr. Marshall, was motivated to do good things for the tribe, but he too was ultimately corrupted," the judge said before handing down her sentence. "While it may have started with the corruption of and by others, Mr. Marshall accepted the corrupt practices."

In arguing for the 3½-year prison term, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Mitchell called the case one of the more serious campaign finance crimes the federal government has prosecuted in recent years, classifying Marshall's acts as a "white collar crime spree."

"The public should know that people in Mr. Marshall's position and it was a very prominent one that he shouldn't be able to get away with these types of things," Mitchell told the judge.

The investigation into Marshall's misdeeds began before he was forced to step down as tribe chairman in August 2007 when lies about his military service and a prior rape conviction were publicized, Mitchell said after the hearing.

Over the course of the investigation, Marshall met with the prosecutor and with federal agents on multiple occasions, going over details of his crimes, including the exact amounts he fraudulently received.

But yesterday, Marshall and his attorney, who did not represent him at the time he signed the agreement, attempted to show that the amounts detailed in the plea agreement were incorrect. Marshall wasn't sure just what he was agreeing to at the time, he and his lawyer said.

"It was so much for me to be hit with at one time, I didn't really fathom half of the stuff that they were talking about. I was under a lot of stress," Marshall told the judge.

The judge asked Marshall if he had any doubts when he entered his guilty plea.

"No," he told her. "It's taken me a long while to just swallow everything that's in there."

Marshall's attorney blamed the case on the publicity that surrounded Marshall as the tribe achieved federal recognition and began its pursuit of an Indian casino in 2007.

"If this is a significant and widely known case, the reason for that is the Cape Cod Times," Markham told the judge. "I don't think anybody on this side of the Bourne Bridge ever heard of Mr. Marshall."

And the $383,000 that he took from the "fishermen's fund" really belonged to Herb Strather, the tribe's casino backer. And he never complained, Markham said.

The new tribal leaders, elected only days before Marshall pleaded guilty this winter, were in attendance yesterday to watch the sentencing.

"The Mashpee Wampanoag tribe has been deeply saddened by the actions of Glenn Marshall," tribal council chairman Cedric Cromwell said in a written statement. "However, the tribal government and the people of our sovereign nation are committed to moving forward with transparency and integrity toward all of our tribe members to ensure that we never again experience this type of betrayal."

For Stephanie Tobey-Roderick, who helped expose Marshall's crimes, the sentence was "a good thing."

"Come on, we were right, he stole money, he's going to jail, see ya later," she said after the sentencing, wearing her now-familiar "Stop Tribal Corruption" T-shirt. "Hopefully we can start to heal."

But Amelia Bingham, who also reported to the authorities information she had collected about Marshall, still wasn't satisfied. "He didn't get enough time," she said.

Rich Young, who has led the anti-casino effort in Middleboro, where the tribe is still pursuing a gambling facility, said he hopes Marshall's sentencing will bolster his case.

"This just makes it much harder for them," he said of the Mashpee tribe.

Under the federal prison system, Marshall may receive up to 54 days of credit for each year served for good behavior. In this case, that leaves the possibility that the sentence may be reduced by about 15 percent, Mitchell said.

More on the Snoaqualmie Banishment Civil Rights Trial

A federal-court judge ruled on April 30 that the Snoqualmie Tribe violated the right to due process of nine tribe members that it banished last year. ICRA MUST BE SUPPORTED BY OUR JUDGES.

“I’m very grateful for Judge Robart. He handled the issue very well for both Indian sovereignty and for individual Native American civil rights,” said Carolyn Lubenau, who was a tribal council vice chairwoman, before her banishment.

Judge James L. Robart set aside the banishment of the nine tribe members, and placed a 90-day limit on the tribe members’ social banishment. The social banishment prevents them from visiting tribal lands or other tribal members.

During the suit, the tribe argued that it had the sole authority to determine membership and punish tribe members, because of the tribe’s sovereignty. The banished tribe members argued that they did not receive adequate notice of the banishment proceedings, nor did they have an opportunity to defend themselves from the banishment.

The judge ruled that the banished members did not receive adequate notice and a chance to defend their rights.

In lawsuits like the Snoqualmie banishment case, federal courts walk a fine line between protecting the rights afforded to all Americans — such as the right to due process — and interfering with a tribe’s interest in sovereignty and internal control over tribal government.

“I think they both can exist peacefully,” Lubeanu said.

Snoqualmie Tribal Administrator Matt Matson noted that the ruling did create broad implications on tribal sovereignty. He wrote in an e-mail to the SnoValley Star that the tribe was considering its options and would not rush to decide what it would do next.

At the end of the 90-day period, the tribe could seek to have the nine members banished again.

“If they still feel that it’s something they should do, then they should have valid charges before they pursue something,” Lubenau said.

According to court documents, Lubenau and several of the other tribe members were banished for “crimes amounting to treason.” Lubenau and former tribal council chairman Bill T. Sweet were accused of operating a shadow tribal government.

Lubenau and others, who were not only banished but were disenrolled from tribal membership, cannot seek to be reinstated as tribal members until the 90-day social banishment period is over. The tribe removed them from its membership rolls because they allegedly did not meet the tribe’s standard of 1/8 blood relationship for membership.

For Lubenau, the experience has opened her eyes to the problem of tribal banishment, which she says has happened to people like her at other tribes across the country.

“Banishment is a horrible, evil punishment,” Lubenau said.

Even though the dispute with her own tribe is probably not over, Lubenau would like to help other Native Americans who have been banished by their tribes. The process for contesting a tribe’s banishment action is expensive, and she thinks that many have suffered their banishments in silence because they could not afford to fight back.

“After the ruling, I guess you could say we are not home yet. We are on second base, and we won’t be done until every Native American is assured of their civil rights,” Lubenau said.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Some Congresspeople WANT Cherokee and Creek To Get Away with Civil Rights Violations

Remember when our Congress wanted to PROTECT Americans from civil rights violators? And they would stand up to Nations like, SOUTH AFRICA when they did these things? But now, they want tribes to get away with stuff like that....


House members from Oklahoma will call upon the Justice Department not to investigate several Native American tribes for alleged mistreatment of the Freedmen — descendants of freed slaves once owned by Indians. OP: Did they get mentioned in the recent documentary about the trail of tears?

The planned request, announced Tuesday by Reps. Dan Boren (D-Okla.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.), comes a day after The Hill reported on an April 30 letter signed by several prominent liberals on Capitol Hill, such as Reps. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), John Conyers (D-Mich.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), that asked Attorney General Eric Holder to began a full-scale investigation into the tribes for alleged civil rights abuses against the Freedmen.

WHY would they discourage a civil rights investigation?

Thunder Valley Indian Casino Cuts 100 Jobs

Remember when our Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger said that new compacts would help bail our state out of its fiscal crisis? It doesn't appear to be working, Arnie. Thunder Valley is cutting workers, you don't do that if things are going good. Pechanga has cut their work force by 800 since the heydey, so HOW, sir, do you expect us to be bailed out?

The operators of Thunder Valley Casino laid off about 100 part-time employees, which the casino says is about a 5 percent reduction.
The casino is still busy, but not as busy as it used to be, said spokesman Doug Elmets.
Thunder Valley started a hiring freeze in January, and it has eliminated positions for “fewer than 100 people,” most of whom worked from one to three days a week.
With more than 1,600 employees, the casino is the fourth-largest employer in Placer County. The casino continues to be open 24-hours a day, seven days a week

Monday, May 4, 2009

Congress asks Attorney General Holder to GET INVOLVED in the Freedmen's Fight for Civil Rights

It's ON, ladies and gentlemen. members of the House of Representatives, including John Conyers and Dianne Watson have joined with others in a letter to our new Attorney General Eric Holder. Please see this LINK for the full letter.

Additionally, Representative Barney Frank has written another letter that details the rights that have been abridged by the Cherokee and the Creek in their dealing with the Freedmen. That letter can be found at this LINK.

Please read the letters and be ready to use them as we ask AG Holder to stand up for ALL Indians' civil rights.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Individual Indian Scores a VICTORY under Civil Rights Act: Another Crack in the Sovereignty Dam

Crack in the Sovereignty DAM! One of MANY to come. Congratulations to the BANISHED Snoqualmie.

In a legal first, tribal members have been victorious in Federal court challenging a tribal banishment action.

On April 30, 2009, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington granted the Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus filed by nine Snoqualmie Tribal members challenging a banishment imposed by the government of the Snoqualmie Tribe in May last year The Court held that the Tribe's government violated the Petitioners' due process rights under the Indian Civil Rights Act and vacated the full banishment. As a result, the Petitioners' membership in the Tribe, as well as their benefits, are restored. The Court also imposed a time restriction on a pre-existing social banishment that prevented the Petitioners from coming onto tribal land and attending tribal events. The Court reduced the open-ended social banishment to 90 days, further vindicating and protecting the tribal members' Indian civil rights.

The decision comes after the first trial held in Federal court under the 1968 Indian Civil Rights Act seeking relief from a tribal banishment action. This is the first Federal court decision to overturn a banishment after trial upon a finding of a denial of due process. Tribal banishments and disenrollments have been increasing in frequency in recent years. The decision could have profound effects on the way tribal governments treat their tribal members, hopefully leading to greater respect for Indian civil rights.

Rob Roy Smith and Steven Kennedy of Ater Wynne represented the tribal members, all of whom were one-time elected members of the Snoqualmie Tribe's government.

Rob Roy Smith
Ater Wynne LLP
Suite 1501, 601 Union Street
Seattle, WA 98101-3981
(206) 623-4711
(206) 467-8406 (fax)

Friday, May 1, 2009

SB Sheriff Accused of Extorting Wealthy San Manuel Member

A stain on the San Bernardino Sheriff's department

A former sheriff's deputy was ordered held on charges Thursday after prosecutors said he tried to extort cash and vehicles from a San Manuel tribal member.
John Thomas Laurent, who was a deputy when the alleged crimes occurred in 2007 and 2008, was ordered to face an attempted extortion charge during a hearing in San Bernardino Superior Court.

After hearing testimony from 46-year-old Ray Green and a sheriff's detective, Judge Robert J. Lemkau ruled that sufficient evidence existed to hold over Laurent to face the charges.

Laurent, 30, is out on bail and returns to court May 8 to enter a plea. OP: If Laurent were San Manuel, he'd get house arrest, like those who conspired to murder people got.....

Green testified that one of three homes he owns is in Lake Arrowhead, where Laurent contacted him. As a San Manuel member, he receives $50,000 a month, after taxes, as his share of the tribe's casino profits, he said. Green was on parole for narcotics violations in July 2007 when Laurent called him, he said. OP: $50K a month AFTER taxes and still turning to drugs?

Mark Levy, Cobell Trust Attorney, Dead of Suicide in DC

Attorney who worked on Cobell case found dead in DC
Friday, May 1, 2009

Mark Levy, a prominent attorney who had worked on the Cobell trust fund case, was found dead in his office in Washington, D.C., on Thursday. Authorities treated the case as a suicide.

Levy, 59, headed the chair of the Supreme Court and Appellate Advocacy practice at Kilpatrick Stockton. According to news reports, he was being laid off yesterday.

"We in the legal community are losing someone who is hard to replace," Dennis Gingold, who has served as lead counsel in the Cobell case, . told The Legal Times. "This is a tough time."

Levy argued 16 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and argued the Cobell case before the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is due to hear the case once again on May 11.

Kilpatrick Stockton employs several other attorneys who work on the Cobell case, including Keith Harper, a member of the Cherokee Nation.