Yesterday, we gave you a quick synopsis of a protest in Sacramento today and tomorrow. We have more now from AIRRO (American Indian Rights and Resources Organization)
Today and tomorrow, the California Valley Miwok
(CVM) and their supporters will hold “an open protest against the Bureau of Indian Affairs” at the Bureau’s Central Valley Agency Central California Agency in Sacramento, California.
The protest is meant to draw attention to the Bureau’s actions to withhold P.L. 638 contract money and deny recognition of the current CVM leadership. As a result, the CVM contends that it cannot pay its bills and faces eviction from Tribal property that has already been foreclosed on.
The CVM accuses the Bureau, and Bureau officials, of violating federal law and the civil rights of the tribal members in denying federal funding and services to the Tribe.
However, the pleas for help only tell half the story. The recent history of the CVM is one of competing factions struggling to control the Tribe which eventually led to the disenrollment of a long-time Tribal leader.
Based on this disenrollment and the current CVM leadership’s failure to include eligible Tribal members, including the disenrolled, in the development and passage of the Tribe’s Constitution, the Bureau has declined to recognize the constitutional election and the current CVM Chairperson. As a result, there is no recognized Tribal government (according to the Bureau).
To thousands of California Indians who, over the last decade, were subjected to disenrollment and disenfranchisement from their Tribes or denied participation in tribal elections, what has occurred at CVM is nothing new.
At places such as Pechanga, Redding Rancheria, Chukchansi, Enterprise Rancheria, Jamul Indian Village, Robinson Rancheria and numerous other California Tribal Nations, men, women, children and elders have been subjected to countless basic rights violations at the hands of tribal leaders. Most have lost jobs, elder care, education assistance, medical care, and some have even had their homes foreclosed on them.
What is new is the Bureau’s action to protect the rights of those subjected to disenrollment and/or denied the rights and privileges afforded other tribal members.
To date, the Bureau has been reluctant to act on numerous requests made by California Indians who have been harmed through disenrollment, disenfranchisement, or denial of participation in tribal matters.
These Indians, these thousands of California Indians, must now look at what is happening at CVM and wonder why the Bureau is applying one standard to that situation and another standard of review and action to cases concerning their own tribes.
The Bureau’s inconsistent handling of the current and ever-growing problem of human and civil rights violations in California Indian Country is almost negligent. In denying assistance to thousands of California Indians, the Bureau has failed to carry out the trust responsibility owed to California’s original inhabitants and created an environment for future violations to occur.
Where the CVM asks that you join them in protesting the Bureau’s actions, you should ask why the Bureau has not done this sooner and with more frequency. There is no shortage of California Tribes where the circumstances mirror those of the CVM – disenrollment, disenfranchisement, and suspect actions by tribal leaders-, so there is ample opportunity for Bureau intervention.
If you are against the tribes violating civil rights and the BIA not applying equal pressure, then join in the protest in Sacramento. Take a friend.