Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Morongo and Pechanga join Forces to Keep Californians From Internet Poker

Throwing their consideral political clout around, the Morongo Band and The Pechanga Band (formerly know as and federally recognized as the Temecula Band) have joined forces to keep Californian's from enjoying internet gaming.

It started with behind-the-scenes politicking by a wealthy Southern California casino tribe and powerful card clubs that dreamed of making a mint by legalizing online poker in California.

But Tuesday, a bill to allow Californians to use their laptops and iPhones to legally wager over the Internet sputtered amid intense opposition from the very interests that initiated the online poker push.

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians and card clubs, including the Commerce Casino and the Hollywood Park Casino, charged that the poker bill – as drafted – could allow offshore poker sites and Las Vegas casinos to run Internet gambling in California.

In February, Mark Macarro, chairman of the Pechanga Band of LuiseƱo Indians, said his tribe would withhold more than $42 million in annual casino revenue sharing payments to California if the online games were legalized.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Another Killing at Soboba Reservation. Is it Safe For Customers?

It might be better to head to Las Vegas than to tribal casinos in Riverside County.

A 21-year-old Soboba tribal member was the victim of a fatal shooting on the Soboba Indian Reservation Saturday night.

William Dusty Rhodes, of San Jacinto, was the man with several gunshot wounds found in a car pulled to the side of the road in the 43000 block of Castile Canyon Road, Riverside County Sheriff's Deputy Herlinda Valenzuela said.

The victim was a tribal member, sheriff's Tribal Liaison Lt. Ray Wood said.

The shooting brought dozens of law enforcement officers to the reservation late Saturday. Authorities said the extra manpower was needed for crowd control and to secure the crime scene. Sheriff's deputies said the crowd was large but not combative, followed directions and quickly dispersed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Phil Ivey Wins EIGHTH World Series of Poker Championship

Phil Ivey is back on top of the poker world. Seven months after finishing seventh in the 2009 World Series of Poker Main Event, Ivey won his eighth World Series of Poker championship early Tuesday morning at the Rio. Ivey won a $3,000 HORSE — a five-game mix of hold'em, Omaha, razz, stud and stud high-low split eight or better — tournament to further establish his reputation as the world's best poker player. Elite pros John Juanda and Jeffrey Lisandro were in the final table.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pechanga's Man's Fight To Be Enrolled in Pechanga Tribe, Where he Belongs

We've written about Joe Liska's continuing fight for his right to belong to the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. A tribe most known for terminating Native Americans from their tribe, but keeping adopted members. They are one of many tribes in CA that have violated the civil and human rights of many of the people. This story below is from 2004

An adopted man who says his biological father was a Pechanga Indian is suing the wealthy Inland tribe and organizing a protest outside its casino Saturday in hopes of pressuring the band into enrolling him and his two children.

Joe Liska, a 43-year-old Arizona resident, was given up for adoption as an infant and didn't learn of his heritage until the 1990s, he said. By then, his biological father was dead, and the tribe had temporarily stopped enrolling new members. Tribal officials said the moratorium, which could end within the next four years, is intended to clear up inaccuracies in the membership rolls.

Frustrated by the tribe's refusal to enroll him, Liska filed a federal lawsuit in November seeking to stop the monthly gaming-profit checks that go out to current members. The tribe was served with the suit last month. Liska also has joined forces with the American Indian Movement and other descendants affected by the Pechanga tribe's decision to temporarily stop enrolling new members.

He and others plan to protest across from the Temecula-area casino at 2 p.m. Saturday, he said. "This is not a club. This is a tribe. It's a blood right," Liska said in a telephone interview from his Arizona home.

"It is going to do harm to Indian gaming and Indian country."

The dispute is one of many that have broken out across the country in the wake of Indian gambling's success. Many tribes divide some of their gaming profits among members, and critics argue the membership disputes are about greed. The Pechanga tribe won't disclose how much members are paid, but in the past some said they receive $10,000 a month. OP: The per capita has gone as high as $30,000 per month after subsequent disenrollments.

Liska insists his interest in joining the tribe isn't about money, but about connecting with his heritage.

Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro said Wednesday there are many Pechanga descendants who failed to get their paperwork filed years ago and now are shut out by the moratorium. "Enrollment is not intended to be fair. Enrollment is intended to be accurate," he said while attending the Western Indian Gaming Conference in Palm Springs on Wednesday. OP: If it were intended to be accurate, it would also be fair. Those who have blood ties to the band are no longer allowed IN. And the tribal council has acted against the tribe's own constitution.

Macarro said he was unfamiliar with Liska's lawsuit and could not comment on its specifics, but knew of the man Liska says was his father: Fred Magee, a tribal member.

Mary Magee, a Pechanga member and daughter of Fred Magee, consented to DNA testing with Liska and confirmed he's family. "I know he's my half-brother, and I love him," she said in a telephone interview. She declined to talk about the lawsuit or enrollment issues. OP: Magee was later ousted from the tribes enrollment committee for confidentiality violations.

Liska's lawsuit doesn't address enrollment, but he hopes it will put pressure on the tribe and get them to open up enrollment. He accuses the tribe of violating federal gambling law by failing to have an approved plan on file with the Interior Department specifying how the gaming profits are used. Monthly checks to members are not supposed to be made without a plan in place.

Phil Hogen, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Commission, confirmed that the Pechanga tribe does not have an approved plan on file and said the commission began an inquiry into the matter last month.

Macarro said the tribe submitted plans in 1995 and 1996 and later learned they hadn't been approved.

A plan was resubmitted last year and is pending approval, he said.

The lawsuit won't have a chance anyway because sovereignty makes tribes immune to these kinds of claims, said I. Nelson Rose, a national gambling expert and law professor, in a telephone interview.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Candace Cable The U.S.'s Greatest Athlete?

Most may know Edgewood's World Record Long Jumper Mike Powell, but another West Covina Edgewood High grad is, well, more successful

From 2010:

A bit out of the usual storyline from our blog, but I've got an opportunity to help a friend and ask for your help too. She's auditioning for a show on the Oprah Winfrey network and you can help her by viewing the video: CANDACE'S Audition and voting for her audition tape.

Disaster invaded Candace Cable's life in 1975 when she suffered a spinal cord injury in an automobile accident. At the age of 21, she would never walk again. However, out of this tragic circumstance emerged a woman with the character and will to become one of today's most successful world athletes.

Candace Cable has been ranked number one nationally in wheelchair racing competition from 1984 to 1990. Furthermore, internationally, she has won 75 marathons, including six Boston Marathons (1981, '82, '85, '86, '87, & '88) and has set world records in every distance throughout her 21-year career. Winning two Olympic medals in three Summer Olympic Games, Candace participated in the only exhibition event for the disabled. Additionally, she has won nine Gold medals in five Summer Paralympic Games. Since 1990, Candace has been competing on the United States Disabled Ski Team, winning three Paralympic medals on the Alpine team. In 1994, she switched to the Cross Country Team, and is currently on the "A" team.

Now, this is overcoming adversity. Please help Candace continue her success, she's just back from meeting with President Obama, he's the third President that has asked to meet her. She's available, I believe for speaking events, check THIS LINK


Candace Cable has been an integral voice in adaptive sport, both through her athletic and post-athletic career. She was the first American woman to win medals in both the Summer and Winter Paralympic Games. After debuting on the Paralympic stage at Arnhem 1980, she went on to earn 12 medals over the course of her career, including eight golds. After competing in exhibition events in the first-ever Olympic wheelchair racing event in 1984 in Los Angeles, Cable competed at the 1988, 1992 and 1996 Games, as well as at five editions of the Paralympic Winter Games in the alpine and Nordic ski racing events. She is a nine-time Paralympian who competed in three sports: track and field, alpine skiing and Nordic skiing. She also had the opportunity to compete on an Olympic stage, when wheelchair racing was an exhibition event, in 1984, 1988 and 1992 and won two bronze medals. Cable’s athletic career includes 84 first-place finishes at various marathons around the world. She has demonstrated a continued commitment to the future of sport, including at the time of her Hall of Fame induction, serving as the vice chair for LA 2028 and consulting with various groups across the world to create a more inclusive environments for those with disabilities.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Mark Macarro Pechanga's Paper Trail of Tears Leaves Elders Dead, Dishonored

An article from Vince Beiser from 2006 is still worth the read for those who don't know what gaming has done. We will be bringing back older articles to help those new readers find out what is happening in Indian Country while Congress turns a blind eye.

For many Native American tribes, the success of their gambling operations ends a run of misfortune and dispossession that dates back to when white men first dubbed them Indians.

Since full-scale reservation gambling was sanctioned by Congress in 1988, its annual take has grown to some $20 billion, with more than one hundred tribes doling out profits directly to their members.

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians whose reservation is a patch of largely useless scrub-and-rock desert southeast of Los Angeles, rake in well over $200 million a year from a 522-room casino/resort with eight restaurants and 2,000 slot and video-poker machines. The cut for each Pechanga adult: $290,000. But if being an Indian has taken on the imprimatur of wealth, high stakes have also led tribes to deal some of their people out.

Bands from California to Connecticut have expelled thousands of long-standing members, often on flimsy grounds of inadequate Indian ancestry. By thinning their numbers, casino-operating tribes have figured out how to split the pot fewer ways.

This decision concerns the disenrollment of John Gomez Jr., whose entire extended family, consisting of 135 adults and all of their offspring, was declared in 2004 no longer to be Pechanga. Gomez and his relatives are descended from Manuela Miranda, who all sides agree was part of the Temecula tribe from which the Pechanga originate.

Decades after the federal government established the Pechanga reservation in 1882, Miranda's granddaughter - Gomez's grandmother - left the impoverished area. But Gomez's people never stopped identifying themselves as Pechanga. Gomez's father returned to the reservation every summer when he was a boy, and later he took his children there for family occasions.

In 1998, Gomez settled his own family a few miles from the reservation, in the town of Temecula, and he soon went to work for the tribe as its legal analyst. His brother has served as the executive chef of the casino's restaurant, his cousin was the casino's head of human resources, and other relatives helped draft the tribe's constitution. In 2002, Gomez and a cousin were elected to the Pechanga enrollment committee. Deluged with applications after the opening of its first gambling hall in 1995, the tribe imposed a moratorium the following year on accepting new adult members, although children of existing members were still permitted to apply.

Some of the new applicants were undoubtably opportunistic pretenders, but others had lived their entire family lives as unquestioned tribal members and simply never had reason to formally enroll. According to Gomez, he and his cousin found that the committee was not processing applications filed before the moratorium and was failing to enroll some members' children. Only after he called for an investigation, says Gomez, did questions about his own ancestry arise.

The Pechanga authorities (Tribal Chairman Mark Macarro) say they are just belatedly enforcing long-standing rules regarding descent and historical residence, the specifics of which are outlined here. Most tribes require that members show proof of a blood quantum: a minimum of one full-blooded grandparent or great-grandparent. But with so much at stake, how that Indian status is proven has become a matter of intense dispute.

The Meskwaki tribe of Iowa last year began requiring DNA tests for all would-be members. A North Carolina band is spending nearly $1 million on outside consultants to authenticate birth and death certificates. When a former chairman of California's Redding Rancheria tribe and seventy-five members of his extended family were disenrolled in 2004, they dug up the remains of two ancestors for DNA testing. Three experts agreed that the genetic evidence confirmed that they were bona fide Redding Rancherias. Yet the tribal council stuck to its decision - meaning that the roughly $3 million in casino payouts that had been going to the ousted clan now gets divided up among the tribe's remaining 230 members.

This memo, from a group that calls itself the Concerned Pechanga People, contained the first claims that Gomez's family did not meet the criteria for membership. (Several of these "concerned" Pechanga just happened to be related to the enrollment committee members Gomez had accused of stonewalling applications.) When it was presented to the full committee in December 2002, the memo set off a series of accusations and counter-accusations about the illegitimacy of other members' Pechanga roots. At one point seven of ten members on the enrollment committee were forced to step down pending reviews of their own status.
In other tribes, too, disenrollment has been used as a club to settle scores and to protect political power. An entire family was expelled from one California band after its members pushed for a recall election of the tribal council. Part of the impetus for the Redding Rancheria disenrollments, according to the tribe's own lawyer, was "all kinds of interpersonal things. There were a lot of things family members did to others that were resented."

Forced to prove their Pechanga lineage, Gomez and his family searched through government archives and boxes tucked away in homes, eventually amassing hundreds of historical documents, many as old as the baptismal record from 1864 catalogued here. But using such documentation to "authenticate" Indian ancestry is dubious at best. I

n the late nineteenth century, census takers simply eyeballed those living on reservations to determine whether they were one-quarter, half, or full-blooded Indian. Indians themselves, fearing their land would otherwise be confiscated, often felt compelled to say they were white or Mexican. Indeed, California municipalities offered bounties on Indian scalps until the late nineteenth century, giving their owners an obvious incentive to hide their true identity.

John Gomez's case hinges not on his ancestor's blood, but as the ruling examines here, on where precisely Manuela Miranda lived at a specific time. In 1875, the Temecula were forced off their land by neighboring ranchers backed by San Diego County sheriffs. Many of them drifted away to towns; others resettled in the nearby Pechanga valley, which the government eventually designated as the Pechanga reservation.

Over the years most residents abandoned this inhospitable land, and the reservation began to be repopulated only after the community finally got electricity in 1970. The tribe's constitution, passed in 1978, says that members must prove "descent from original Pechanga Temecula people."
But in 1996 the tribal council tightened the rules, declaring for the first time that members had to have an ancestor from the subset of Temeculas who relocated to the Pechanga valley.

Gomez and his family point to minutes from the 1996 meeting indicating that the more stringent qualifications were not meant to be applied retroactively to established members such as themselves. Manuela Miranda was born in 1864 in the Temecula village. She never knew her father, and her mother died when she was five, at which point she went to live with an older half-sister. After the ranchers pushed them out of the village, the half-sister moved to the Pechanga valley and a teenage Miranda was soon married off to a non-Indian, with whom she settled and eventually had tn children in nearby San Jacinto.

As is indicated here, the enrollment committee acknowledges that Miranda identified herself as an "Indian of the Pechanga Reservation" in a 1916 probate record. But at the age of sixty-four, when applying to have her name added to a new federal listing of California Indians, she said otherwise. Miranda's complicated relationship to her tribe is far from exceptional. Large numbers of Indians have moved off their reservations, often with the encouragement of government programs. And marriage outside the tribe and race has been commonplace since the late nineteenth century.

In fact, today fewer than half of all Indians even claim full-blood status. Unfortunately for Gomez, the enrollment-committee members with ties to the Concerned Pechanga People were reinstated before his case was considered: in resuming their positions, they were able to rule against him. The committee states here that Miranda never relocated to the Pechanga valley, and therefore her progeny are not Pechangas. Yet Gomez's family insists that Miranda kept in close contact with her relatives on the reservation, and in affidavits elderly tribal members have sworn that they always viewed her as one of their own.

Even though Miranda's half-sister also lived off the reservation for many years, the committee decided that her living descendants are members in good standing. (One of these descendants, Frances Miranda, is among the enrollment-committee members who voted to remove Gomez.) For her people and for each of the remaining 850 adults in the tribe, the ouster of Gomez's clan raised their individual share of casino money by some 15 percent.

Gomez's disenrollment does not mean that he is not an Indian (as is made clear here) but it does put him outside the Pechanga tribe, costing him more than his monthly casino check, his job, and the health and life insurance that came with it. He is now barred from visiting ancestor's grave sites. His grandmother is no longer allowed to attend classes at the reservation's senior-citizen center. And his cousins' children have been expelled from the Pechanga elementary school, where they were learning the tribe's language. (Members of Gomez's family also made up the core of the tribe's softball team, and their expulsion forced the Pechanga to withdraw from intertribal play.) For others, disenrollment does mean that they are declared no longer to be Indians of any sort. Thus they lose government scholarships, job training, and other benefits reserved for Native Americans.

Most federal programs require that recipients be at least one-quarter Indian, but a tribe's judgment is frequently the only proof of that blood quantum. Members of Gomez's family can attest to this dilemma: since being disenrolled many of them have lost their federally funded Indian health care. There are now more than one thousand people fighting ejections from California tribes alone, and far more are embroiled in similar disputes nationwide. Yet for the disenrolled there is little recourse.

Gomez followed the protocol specified here and appealed this decision to the tribal council, which, predictably, also ruled against him. Next he turned to state and federal courts, hoping they would be able to settle conflicting interpretations of tribal law and historical record. But the same sovereignty that allows Indian tribes to run casinos and sell fireworks on their lanes also puts them largely outside the jurisdiction of the courts. A federal judge, ruling last September on another California case, wrote, "These doctrines of tribal sovereign immunity were developed decades ago, before the gaming boom created a new and economically valuable premium on tribal membership." Although the judge was unwilling to challenge the 1978 Supreme Court decision that made membership an internal tribal matter, she nevertheless found the case "deeply troubling on the level of fundamental substantive justice."

Gomez recently helped form the American Indian Rights and Resource Organization, which is calling on Congress to address the current spate of disenrollment abuse. The group has staged a series of protests, including one in January at the annual Western Indian Gaming Conference in Palm Springs. As Gomez and a few dozen others picketed outside, their former tribal compatriots were inside the city's capacious exhibition hall, cutting deals from prospective caterers. Soon more protestors may join Gomez's side: in March the Pechanga started disenrollment proceedings against another ninety of its adult members. American Indians, it appears, are still being driven from their lands, their heritage stolen from them.

But today the ranchers are other Indians, and bounties can exceed $290,000 a head.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Anti Cherokee Freedmen Candidate Felton Newell in Epic FAIL as a candidate

The Cherokee Nation-supported candidate Felton Newell failed miserably in the June 8 primary in CA-33rd Congressional District. 6.5% of the vote? This district was retiring Rep. Diane Watson, who championed the cause of the Cherokee Freedmen. Congratulations to Karen Bass. Future Rep. Bass, will you take up the cause of Rep. Watson? Will you be the champion for the rights of the oppressed Native Americans? Will you stand up for those who HAVE HAD their civil rights violated by their own tribes?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Civil Rights Violating Picayune Rancheria Chukchansi Supports Jeff Denham

Sen. Jeff Denham, WILL YOU TURN DOWN the endorsement of a tribe that violates the civil rights of its people? They have destroyed 50% of their tribe, sir. DO YOU STAND WITH THEM?

Just days ahead of Tuesday's election, an interest group set up by the Chukchansi Indian tribe is airing radio commercials attacking the congressional candidacy of former Fresno Mayor Jim Patterson.

Critics say the ads are yet more evidence that the tribe -- which operates a casino near Coarsegold -- strongly supports state Sen. Jeff Denham, who along with Patterson and two others are seeking the Republican nomination in the 19th Congressional District.

As with a recent charity event at the casino that featured Denham in a series of promotional television and radio ads, campaign experts say the commercials test the bounds of election law -- but probably don't break them.

"This is increasingly showing the gray area between coordinated expenditures and independent expenditures," said Jessica Levinson, political reform director at the Center for Governmental Studies, a Los Angeles-based think tank.

The 30-second spots attack Patterson and don't mention Denham. They are sponsored by Californians for Fiscally Conservative Leadership, but a phone number at the end of the ad is for the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians' tribal council office.

Tal Cloud and Michael Der Manouel Jr., local Republican activists and leaders of the conservative Lincoln Club of Fresno County, on Friday sent an official complaint to the Federal Election Commission, saying the latest ads violate the law because no disclosure statements have been filed.

"The coordination between Chukchansi and the Denham campaign are not what free and fair elections are all about," said Cloud, who has endorsed another candidate in the race, former congressman Richard Pombo.

Der Manouel has endorsed Patterson.

Cloud claims that Chukchansi is supporting Denham because he has pledged to oppose a $250 million casino proposed by the North Fork Rancheria at a 305-acre site off Highway 99, four miles north of Madera. The casino would likely be competition for Chukchansi.

The Fresno BEE has the rest of the article