Monday, May 30, 2011

California's Tribal Cleansing: Tacit Approval from BIA and Federal Government

Brian Frank has the story of Tribal Cleansing and the Struggle to be hear by those whose civil rights have been violated.  See more at the link at the end of the story.

As California Tribes Continue To Purge Members, Dissidents Struggle To Get An Audience
by Brian Frank |

TEMECULA, Calif. — John Gomez Jr. reads to his sons in a near-dead language. He wants them to grow up listening to the language of their ancestors and hearing the creation stories, which are tied forever to natural landmarks here about 90 miles southeast of Los Angeles.

Gomez identifies strongly as a member of the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians. He even named his sons after prominent figures in the history and lore of the Temecula Indians, who now call themselves Pechanga. To his youngest he gave the middle name Ano de Apis, after the merger of two clans through the marriage of his own ancestors Casilda Ano and Pablo Apis (pronounced “Oppish”), who was a prominent chief. The older boy he named Chexeemal, or Kingbird, who plays an important role in the creation stories.

The boys are supposed to learn about their cultural heritage at the Pechanga tribal school, which was set up for that very purpose, but instead they have been barred from attending. In 2004, the Pechanga Band expelled Gomez and much of his extended family—some 130 adults total, along with their children—stripping them of their tribal citizenship and all the rights that go with it.

What happened to Gomez has become so commonplace in California and across the nation that the term for it is gradually gaining recognition outside of Indian Country: it's called disenrollment. More than 20 tribes—a fifth of those federally recognized in California—have voted to disenroll members in the past two decades, more than in any other state. There is no official tally, but estimates collected from several activists, including Gomez, indicate that more than 2300 American Indians have lost their tribal citizenship here since disenrollments started occurring more frequently in the late '90s.

Meanwhile, some of these same tribes reap tremendous benefits from one of California’s newest and most powerful industries, Indian gaming, which for the past two years has outperformed the almighty Vegas Strip with its more than $7 billion in estimated annual revenues. Many tribes share this newfound wealth with their members on a per capita basis—that is, by cutting individual checks, which in the case of the Pechanga reportedly amounts to six figures a year per person. Under such a system, smaller membership translates into more money for everyone, creating a perverse incentive to pit one family against another.

What’s at stake here is not only the livelihood and identities of thousands of American Indians, but also who controls a gaming industry that has virtually overnight become both the richest of its kind in the nation and one of the most influential political lobbies in California.

“We need to do something to bring light to this issue, to help other people, to help each other, and to stop this thing,” says Gomez, who as president of the activist group American Indian Rights and Resources Organization has placed himself front and center in what some are calling a new civil rights movement.

A Powerful New Player
Tribal governments together make up the fifth largest special interest group in the state, funneling more cash into California political campaigns than the powerful teachers unions or pharmaceutical manufacturers, according to California, which tracks contributions. And the heads of two California tribes, including Pechanga chairman Mark Macarro, made Capitol Weekly’s list of the 100 most powerful political players in the state.

Macarro became arguably the most recognizable American Indian in the state when during the 2008 election season he served as the face of an aggressive if soft-spoken ad campaign to expand the number of slot machines legally allowed at four of California’s richest Indian reservations. That referendum, which voters approved, resulted in an increase of thousands of slot machines at casinos owned by the Sycuan, Morongo, Agua Caliente and Pechanga tribes, further boosting their already handsome earning potential.

“We’re probably going to exceed Las Vegas in the next year as the No. 1 gambling destination,” says Cheryl Schmit, director of Stand Up For California, a watchdog organization for gambling in California.

Vegas-style gaming, including slot machines, is illegal in California. But Indian tribes have a complicated relationship with the state and federal governments. Each tribe has its own agreement with the United States that determines just how far its sovereignty extends, but in general a tribal government has the final say on many of the laws that affect routine affairs on its land.

Still, though many tribes began to operate bingo halls and experiment with gaming as early as 1980, gambling was still technically illegal. That changed in 2000, when voters approved Proposition 1A, an amendment to the California constitution making Vegas-style slot machines legal on Indian reservations, so long as the tribes signed special revenue-sharing compacts with the state. The subsequent boom has seen a rise in big, splashy resort-style casinos and made a handful of California’s more than 100 tribes very rich, even though many remain poor.

As a collective bargaining group, and with huge pools of money suddenly at their disposal, California tribes now represent one of the most powerful business interests in the state, so the question of who controls them has become as relevant to voters as it is to the people who live under tribal law.

Yet the stakes for tribal members are perhaps even higher. Elect the wrong leaders and they risk losing not only their monthly “per cap” checks, but also their very identity as tribal people, and all the benefits that go with that status.

A Case Study at Pechanga
When Gomez and his family lost their membership in the Pechanga band, they also forfeited their access to the tribal health clinic, a substantial income, access to the tribal school for their children, certain federal benefits reserved for American Indians, and even their right to call themselves Pechanga in the eyes of the federal government.

“We’ve heard that some people have committed suicide or attempted suicide,” says Gomez, referring to the emotional toll that can be exacted upon the disenrolled. “Some people just go into their own little world, you know. They just don’t want to be bothered anymore. People that had always been part of the community, not just with Pechanga or their own tribal community but with the larger Indian community, no longer participate in stuff that they used to do all the time.”

The Pechanga have become a frequent focus of media attention as a rash of disenrollments have cropped up across the state, in part because one of the major voices speaking out against tribes who take such actions is a former member—Gomez—but also because they have had two major expulsions of their own and an on-going ban on all new members.

Gomez’s family was the first to be disenrolled in 2004, but trouble began stirring long before that, long before there was even a casino.

In the early ’80s, while the tribe was just beginning to formalize a written constitution and enrollment criteria, a small band of Pechanga members led by Russell “Butch” Murphy and commonly referred to as the Splinter Group sought to break away and become federally recognized as the official Pechanga Band, according to copies of court documents provided by Gomez.

The Splinter Group’s primary complaint had been that the new enrollment criteria were unfair. In fact, it was apparent to the group’s members that they would not be able to enroll at all, so their response was not to participate in the application process.

As a compromise to help keep the peace, at a general meeting open to all members, a respected tribal elder named Lawrence Madariaga seconded a motion to extend the enrollment process for another year, allowing more time to resolve the issue. The motion carried with a 35-2 vote, but the Splinter Group announced that it was breaking away to form its own tribe, anyway.

To do so, it had to convince the Bureau of Indian Affairs—which keeps the official record of federally recognized tribes—that they had the stronger case. They wrote to the BIA laying out their argument, and the bureau at first agreed to recognize the election of their own governing council.

But the main group of Pechanga Indians appealed the BIA’s decision, depicting the Splinter Group instead as a ragtag bunch of outsiders who had been adopted into the tribe only to return the favor by trying to seize power for themselves. They also argued that for the BIA to rule in the Splinter Group’s favor would be to infringe on the tribe’s sovereign right to determine its membership.

The BIA upheld the integrity of the whole tribe, allowing that the members of both groups were legitimate, and so things remained for a number of years. Ultimately, Murphy and other members of the Splinter Group managed did get enrolled.

The Money Factor
But the issue would come up again. In 1995, the tribe opened a small but lucrative gaming center. As the money trickled in, tribal members began to receive checks made out directly in their names.

“It was really, really slow, because it was a small facility,” Gomez says. “But eventually, you were talking thousands of dollars a month and then tens of thousands of dollars a month. And there was a lot of people that had never seen that amount of money before, didn’t really know how to handle it, and it created issues for them.”

Most tribal members wrestled with issues of how to spend the money or whether and how much to save, Gomez says. But for others, it was more about greed.

“It also created a group of people that said, ‘You know what? We need to get more. There’s other tribes in the area that get a lot more than we do,’” Gomez says.

It was money that exacerbated the dispute over who belonged in the tribe.

The Pechanga, who are governed by a tribal council with seven elected members, have a separate enrollment committee that oversees membership applications and maintains a list of lawfully enrolled individuals based on eligibility requirements laid out in the tribe’s constitution. With the prospect of so much wealth suddenly at play, the tribe claimed, the number of new applicants claiming to be Pechanga had spiked, creating a backlog.

A moratorium on all new members was proposed so that the enrollment committee could catch up with the applications already on file. But such a move required the approval of the general council—that is, the entire voting public. Suddenly each member of the tribe had to decide whether to potentially cut out relatives and friends who were simply slow to complete the required paperwork. It would be a defining moment for the tribe, one that for some boiled down, at least in part, to a simple equation.

“From a purely selfish standpoint, and I freely admit this, I knew that if a lot more people got in, that would reduce the amount of benefit that was coming to me and to my family,” says David Cuevas, who voted in favor of the ordinance.

Though it is impossible to say how many other tribe members were motivated by greed, Cuevas for his part seems to think he was not the only one. And on paper at least, the rise of California’s casinos tracks conspicuously close with the increase in disenrollments (see map).

Either way, the moratorium passed, and more than a decade later, it has yet to be lifted.

Called Back

Mark Lucero is one of the applicants who were kept out by the moratorium. He owns land on the reservation, though he did not grow up there. Like many California Indians, his family had years ago been given an allotment as part of a settlement with the U.S. government, which at the time recognized his ancestors as Temecula, or Pechanga, Indians. But with little economic opportunity on the reservation, his family left to pursue their fortunes elsewhere, before Lucero was born.

Lucero’s story is representative of the countless California Indians whose ancestors were displaced first by Spanish settlers and later by American ranchers. Often the Indians were forcibly removed to make way for the ranchers. At other times, they left of their own volition, because, like Lucero’s family, they had no work to sustain them.

While several thousand American Indians today can claim to be part of a federally recognized tribe in California, many tens of thousands more have wound up assimilating into the main population to a greater or lesser degree, having been scattered in their own great Diaspora.

As generations passed and with genealogical records sporadic at best, the ties have been cut permanently for many families, the bloodlines obscured forever.

But some, like Lucero, have been, as he describes it, “called back.”

Lucero grew up in East Los Angeles, and with his dark skin and an angry disposition, he quickly fell in with one of the neighborhood’s Latino gangs.

“I got involved in the gangs at an early age, at 11 years old,” he says with a distinctly Mexican-American lilt, speaking at his apartment in Riverside, Calif.

Before he was 18, Lucero says, he had seen friends die, he had been stabbed, and he had killed. He says it was largely his mother who saved him.

He remembered as a child watching her stand on a chair, light incense and turn to the four corners and to the creator in a traditional prayer. She had maintained her tribal identity, and Lucero says he visited the reservation many summers growing up.

Lucero says he knew that he was Indian but for years identified more strongly with his street gang. It wasn’t until he was much older that he began to appreciate that he had been left another, more positive legacy.

Ultimately, Lucero gave up the gangs, gave up the violence and the drugs, and became a devoted student of Indian traditions. He learned to drum, to sing, to pray. He attended sweat lodges and developed in earnest an interest in his spiritual life. The only thing missing for him was full legal citizenship in the Pechanga Band.

When he applied, however, he was denied not because the tribe did not recognize him as a Pechanga, but because of the moratorium.
Lucero tried again, despite owning a piece of the reservation itself, and despite having relatives, full members themselves, who live there. Lucero, having always considered himself a fighter, took up protest.

And that was ultimately how he would come to meet John Gomez Jr.

Coming Unraveled, or Holding It Together?
Shortly before 2004, Gomez says, a group calling itself the Concerned Pechanga People began calling for the disenrollment of three entire family lines. In anonymous letters sent to tribe members, they claimed it was necessary to correct past enrollment mistakes in order to protect the integrity of the tribe.

At the same time, the passage of Proposition 1A in 2000 had helped clear the way for further expansion of Pechanga’s gaming center. In 2002, the tribe had held the grand opening of its AAA-rated Four Diamond Pechanga Resort and Casino, which was now the largest in the state with thousands of slot machines, more than 100 table games, a nearly 200,000-square-foot casino floor, and more than 500 guest rooms.

With no new applications being accepted, the amount of money coming from casino revenues to each tribe member had gradually increased to as much as $15,000 or $20,000 a month. Disenrolling hundreds of members would increase it even more.

The families targeted by the CPP included all descendants of a woman named Manuela Miranda, a relative of former chief Pablo Apis—that was Gomez’s family. It also included the Garbani family and the descendants of a woman named Paulina Hunter. The Hunter family included Lawrence Madariaga, the elder who had voted to give the Splinter Group more time to enroll, and who had even received an award recognizing his long service to the tribe. It also included Cuevas, who had voted in favor of the moratorium because it meant more money for his family. And it included Lucero.

To head off possible disenrollment action, members of Gomez’s family approached him about running for a position on the enrollment committee, figuring that by seating one of their own, they would have a chance to vote it down, he says.

Gomez had already gained a reputation for service by lobbying in Sacramento to get the state to recognize the tribe’s right to operate a casino. He had little trouble winning a spot on the committee. But he quickly discovered how shadowy tribal politics could be. He was not allowed, for instance, to see the alleged backlog of applications that had led to the moratorium. Those were kept under lock and key, and only a handful of people were allowed to see them, he says.

In the end, however, being on the enrollment committee only gave Gomez a front row seat to his own expulsion. Meeting in secret and without all of its members, the committee officially disenrolled more than 200 members of the Miranda line, including Gomez, who was not even allowed to cast a vote.

Fighting Back
Gomez did not take it sitting down. Over the next year, he managed to turn his own plight into a lesson for others. He researched the issue of disenrollment and, with the help of the Internet, managed to connect with others in California who had had similar experiences.

“When you remove people, and when that removal is done in violation of these laws that are supposed to protect you as not only a citizen of the tribe but a citizen of the United States, then you start to think about things. How is it I don’t have any rights? How is it that somebody could do this to me and my family and the generations to come without having to pay the price for violating the law?” Gomez says.

In 2005, a group of disenrolled Indians from tribes across California and even out of state met in Temecula to share their experiences and discuss what could be done. They agreed to form an organization to raise public awareness of the issue and to help others facing disenrollment. They called it the American Indian Rights and Resources Organization, or AIRRO.

Among those elected to the board of the new organization were Lucero and Gomez, who now shared a common cause, both having been denied membership.

But it would be an uphill battle. The disenrolled have repeatedly sought help from the justice system, at first citing Public Law 280, which states that in certain situations California courts may serve as arbiters of tribal law. But the courts consistently declined to intervene, ruling that tribal membership matters do not fall within their jurisdiction.

“You have to kind of compare it to like, if you got denied citizenship in France, can you appeal here? Of course not. So you get denied citizenship in a tribe, can you appeal here? Of course not. It’s really the same thing. They have the sovereign right over membership, and therefore the courts can’t get involved,” says James Mills, a governance consultant who has advised a number of tribes on enrollment issues and who has helped them write their constitutions.

Members of AIRRO argue that the issue goes beyond matters of jurisdiction. In many cases, no tribal courts exist, meaning that the disenrolled must appeal their case directly to the governing body that ruled against them in the first place.

“We’re not trying to define what is an Indian or if a tribe has a right to determine membership. That’s in stone,” says Mark Maslin, whose wife, the chairwoman of AIRRO’s board of directors, was disenrolled from a tribe in northern California.

Maslin concedes there may indeed be cases where a person or a family does not rightfully belong to a tribe. “The only thing is they have to be fair and provide due process, provide civil rights when they make these decisions. The idea that you can make these decisions by popularity contest is not good.”

Hopes Dashed, Again
In 2006, Pechanga would again take what appeared to outside observers as arbitrary action against a single family line.

In the aftermath of the Miranda disenrollments, the tribe’s membership seemed to grow more cautious. Two hundred people had just been kicked out, and hundreds more were threatened in the Hunter and Garbani families, which had also been targeted by the Concerned Pechanga People. The general council enacted another moratorium, this time to stop all future disenrollment actions until another vote by the entire population decided to allow it again.

Still, the tribal council appeared bent on getting rid of the Hunter line. They had already commissioned a report by a respected anthropologist in Santa Barbara named John Johnson, asking him to look into the genealogy of Paulina Hunter. Hunter, the council claimed, was not Pechanga by descent, and so neither were her descendants. Johnson concluded after exhaustive research that Hunter’s genealogical ties to the Pechanga appeared legitimate, but the council ignored both his report and their own moratorium on disenrollments to expel the Hunters anyway.

Lawrence Madariaga, who was in his 80s and living with his wife on the reservation, was told that despite all he had done for his tribe, he was no longer Pechanga. Mark Lucero, who owned a piece of the reservation, was now permanently locked out, because even if the ban on new enrollments was lifted, he could no longer officially claim to be descended from a Pechanga Indian. And David Cuevas, who had voted to keep people like Lucero out of the tribe, was now stripped of citizenship himself.

What has happened at Pechanga amounts to a gradual but substantial shift in power along family lines. Russell “Butch” Murphy, who had led the Splinter Group in a kind of coup d’etat in the early 1980s, now serves as a duly elected councilman. Meanwhile, many of the tribe members who helped to formulate the tribe’s constitution and bylaws—and, indeed, even helped to redevelop land that at one point was almost completely uninhabited—are no longer even members.

The Debate Rages On
AIRRO casts disenrollment as an issue of civil and human rights. The organization is seeking to get help from the United Nations, from Congress, from state legislators, from anyone who may have the power to effect change.

One of AIRRO’s strategies now is to get legislators to beef up a 40-year-old law called the Indian Civil Rights Act, which was intended to protect tribal people from outside oppression. Ironically, today they want to use it to protect Indians from other Indians.

However, the law as currently written has no teeth, says Gomez. It defines a number of specific protections without authorizing any power to enforce, except in a single case—habeas corpus, which prohibits authorities from detaining anyone for any length of time without charges. That is why they need help from Congress, since no other body has the power to amend the law.

Gomez and other members of AIRRO are no longer shy about asking for help, either. They hold the government at least partially responsible for what is happening in Indian Country because of countless bad treaties and mismanagement by the BIA.

“They’ve created to my way of thinking this phenomenon of disenrollment, and they’re walking away from this responsibility to these people they grouped,” agrees Schmit, from Stand Up For California, referring to past policies in which the BIA had a direct hand in shaping tribal governments.

On the issue of disenrollment, the BIA has maintained a neutral position except in cases where tribes have explicitly ceded authority over enrollment issues to the agency.

“We cannot [get involved], we just simply don’t have the authority in those instances where the tribes do their own enrollments, and we’re not part of that process,” says James Fletcher, head of the BIA’s Southern California regional office. (It should be noted that Fletcher is a member of Pechanga, though he insists that in matters involving his own tribe he always recuses himself.)

The tribe, for its part, would not weigh in for this report. Tribal chairman Mark Macarro did not reply to multiple phone calls and E-mail requests for an interview. He has made the tribe’s position clear in past interviews with other media outlets, however, standing on the tribal sovereignty defense and denying that the disenrollments had anything to do with money or power.

In an open letter to the Pechanga membership in February 2007, in a preemptive response to a local news report about the disenrollments due to air that night, the tribal council claimed that the “integrity of tribal citizenship has nothing to do with gaming or money” and that governments “need the ability to correct past errors to protect the integrity of their citizenry.”

The Pechanga Enrollment Committee “performed investigations over the course of several years to determine whether or not [certain individuals] were legitimate Pechanga descendants,” the letter read. “The proceedings were conducted in accordance with tribal law, custom and tradition and guaranteed the due process rights of the individuals in question just as Congress intended.”

Mills, the tribal government consultant, takes a firmly neutral stance in the debate, insisting that if there is to be a solution to the problem of disenrollment, it must come from the tribes. He says that whatever requirement a tribe may set for enrollment it can also use to disenroll someone.

“Whether that’s fair or just is not the issue. Whether it’s legal or not is the issue. And that’s unfortunate, and it sounds unfair, and maybe it is, but that’s the reality,” Mills says.

Lucero, for his part, has not given up hope. He says he still wants to take his rightful place in the tribe, but he has expanded the fight to encompass others, too.

“It was once upon a time just about Pechanga,” Lucero says. “But I realized, it's not about Pechanga. It's about the whole country as one, as a whole, the whole Indian Country. That's what you got to fight for, because they are getting attacked just as much as we are. So when we stand together, as one, we can win."

Cuevas has since come to terms with his disenrollment, which, surprisingly, he considers one of the best things ever to have happened to him. Being kicked out of his tribe has forced him to take an honest look at his actions and reassess his priorities in life, he says. He has abandoned what he considered a bad business partnership and now wants to leverage his experience in the world of finance to help tribes develop sustainable streams of income other than gaming.

As for Gomez, he does not appear to be hurting financially. He saved much of his per capita money, working all the while, and he lives in a comfortable two-story house in Temecula.

Though he does not expect ever to be allowed to rejoin the Pechanga Band, he seems at peace with what has happened. He says he knows who he is, whatever the tribal council has concluded about him. And he works now for another tribe, continuing his habit of service to Indian Country. He also continues to lead AIRRO in its fight for outside intervention.

Gomez’s boys? They now attend a neighboring tribal school, continuing to learn Luiseño, and listening to the stories that he insists are their heritage.

Should There Be a Boycott of Tribal Casinos of Tribes that Have Violated the Civil Rights Of their People?


(posted in 2010, re-presented while OP is on Vacation)
There has been so much in the news of a California politician-led boycott of Arizona that we must bring it to their attention that the real civil rights violations have already happened here in CA and in other gaming tribes out of state. The much maligned Arizona law is not even in effect and it has been fixed so that the potential for civil rights violations of illegal immigrants is greatly reduced.

A boycott is a form of consumer activism involving the act of voluntarily abstaining from using, buying, or dealing with a person, organization, or country as an expression of protest, usually for political reasons

California Indian Tribes like: Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians (Temecula), Redding Rancheria (Redding) Picayune Rancheria (Coarsegold, near Fresno) and the Snoqualmie Tribe in Washington state are just a few of the tribes that do not deserve your patronage.

Here is what the gaming tribes mentioned, as well as others told within this blog or at have done to members of their tribes:

•Stripped tribal members of their citizenship
•Denied voting rights to members
•Taken away rightful healthcare to seniors
•Blocked access to land on the reservation
•Denied members due process of law, including legal representation, even writing tools.
•Prohibition of practicing religion, including the right to pray at their ancestor's graves.
•Threatened others if they speak out
•Subjected some to ex post facto laws.
FORCED a family to exhume the bodys of ancestors to prove lineage, then ignored the findings

Many will say that "well, they are sovereign nations, they can do what they want". Of course they are, and Arizona is a sovereign state that passed its laws through the democratic process too. Remember, South Africa was a sovereign nation too, they had the right to pronounce Apartheid as a policy. But in the tribe's case, many or most have acted OUTSIDE their own constitutions. Just as the boycott of South Africa worked to eliminate apartheid, so can boycotts work to show these casino tribes that "violations of civil rights don't pay".

Important in a boycott is to let the tribes know you will no longer patronized their business, until they do the right thing and restore rightful membership to those they took it from and to halt all moratoriums. They only understand the loss of income and you should make it clear that you would come if they we no longer in violation, but until then, you won't. There are many things to do, including : Telling your friends and family to join you, No anniversary dinners, No Class reunions at the offending locations. Quite a few letters saying you "went to Vegas instead' would have an effect.

Many have said, "why should we care? It's just a small tribe". These money making tribes are using money stolen from tribal members to influence politicians. And tribes like Pechanga tried to keep Californians from exercising their RIGHT TO VOTE on their expanded gaming propositions, with the Feds help. And to put it in perspective, the sovereign nation of the Picayune Rancheria eliminated almost 50% of the tribe. That's equal to eliminating 16 MILLION in California's population. Pechanga eliminated the equivalent of 8 million citizens in order to increase per capita payments and to control votes.

They deserve your scorn, they don't deserve your patronage and a boycott might just open their eyes, especially if you keep their wallets from fattening.

BOYCOTT: Pechanga, Picayune Rancheria, Redding Rancheria, Snoqualmie, Table Mountain Rancheria, San Pascual Reservation, Cherokee Nations Casino, Mooretown Rancheria, Guidiville Rancheria, Oneida Nation, Robinson Rancheria, Enterprise Rancheria

Saturday, May 28, 2011

How the Enterprise Rancheria Penalized Members for a Lawful Recall Vote

Bringing stories to the forefront, since there will be a protest of civil and human rights violations in Indian Country, June 2 at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula.  Here's a story of the ENTERPRISE RANCHERIA, please take a look.  Please keep in mind, the numbers may look small but they equate to a significant population of a tribe.   For instance, the Picayune Disenrollment would equate to 16,000,000 Californians being eliminated as state citizens, with no rights to vote, or any state services.   Redding Rancheria disenrollments would equate to over 8,000,000 California citizens being denied their rights.  

Thirty former members of Enterprise Rancheria protested in front of the tribal office Saturday, while one disenrolled member waited for an appeals hearing at the Palermo Grange.
In November 2003, the Enterprise Rancheria booted 70 tribal members who questioned the way the tribal council spent a human services fund, according to Robert Edwards, a disenrolled member. Later two more tribal members were disenrolled.

Saturday, the Enterprise Tribal Council held an appeals hearing at Palermo Grange to decide if one disenrolled member, Rick Wilson, could return to tribal rolls.

"Everything they did there was a farce," Edwards said. "It was another kangaroo court."

Edwards said the tribal council brought up issues for Wilson's disenrollment that had happened after Wilson was removed from membership. Edwards said Wilson was escorted into and out of the meeting by two armed security guards.

"They're treating us like criminals, and we aren't criminals," Edwards said.

Edwards said he and 11 other members would go before the council on November 4, which will be almost three years after they requested appeals hearings.

The disenrolled members had signed a petition and asked for a vote to recall the tribal council back in 2003. However, the council responded by disenrolling the members who asked for the recall.

A few months ago, Enterprise Rancheria Tribal Chairwoman Glenda Nelson said the council had disenrolled the 72 members to keep the tribe from being divided and preserve the unity of the remaining tribal members. 

OP:   Preserve UNITY?  By taking away the right to VOTE the way you want?   What if the Republicans took away the Democrats citizenship because they were against the Republican candidate, or because they voted to recall a politician like Gray Davis or Cunningham from San Diego.

Nelson was one of the tribal council members the disenrolled members tried to recall in 2003. Edwards said several Indian rights groups were fighting for legislation that would protect tribal members from arbitrarily being disenrolled by tribes, which has happened in California and around the nation since tribes started receiving gaming revenue.

Ricky Wilson said he applied for an appeals hearing after he was disenrolled in 2003, which he said was supposed to be scheduled within 60 working days.

Almost three years later last Saturday, he attended the hearing in Palermo, where he waited outside from 9:30 a.m. to almost 2 p.m., he said. The hearing lasted until 5:50 p.m., he said, with the tribal council taking most of the time to cite his actions against the tribe after he was disenrolled.

The tribal council cited issues that had taken place since the disenrollment he said, such as speaking out against the tribal council including a "Letter to the Editor" he wrote to a newspaper.

When Wilson tried to speak in his defense, the council said if he didn't keep quiet, they wouldn't let him testify after the council had spoken, he said.

"They didn't allow me due process," Wilson said.

He said the complaints the council testified that he publicly criticized the tribe's tactics regarding the disenrollment. He said the tribe violated his civil rights including free speech, and he would like some government entity to hold tribes to the letter of their constitutions, so members couldn't be disenrolled so easily.

Before the disenrollment, the 72 members received incomes from casino gaming funds. According to the disenrolled, they were kicked out because they criticized the way the tribal council did business.

"It was to get me out of the way, so they could do their own business, and it wasn't above water," Wilson said.

Nelson, the tribal chair, didn't respond to requests for comments before press time. However, in the past, Nelson has maintained the tribal council did not mismanage funds, and they disenrolled members who were trying to divide the tribe.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Media Advisory for Civil & Human Rights Protest at the Pechanga Resort and Casino

Media Advisory: For Immediate Release

PROTEST of Civil and Human Rights Violations at Pechanga’s Resort and Casino
June 2, 2011 at 4 p.m.

Temecula, CA - On June 2, 2011 in front of the Pechanga Resort & Casino in the 4500 block of Pechanga Parkway , protestors will rally to bring attention to the civil rights violations happening throughout Indian Country. The start time is scheduled for 4 p.m. although there will be representation beginning at 8 a.m. A prayer vigil will be held at Birdsall Park in Temecula.

Pechanga Resort & Casino was chosen for this protest location because it is the site of the Tribal Leader’s Conference, where many of the nation’s tribal leaders will be listening to speakers including Larry Echohawk, Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs. Senator Daniel Inouye is expected to address the group via video. The forum is an opportune time to ask the elected tribal leaders in attendance what they plan on doing about the ever growing population of Indian individuals who have been subjected to and tormented by the unjust actions of tribal officials.

There is a growing concern regarding the bad governance practices of tribal officials which, to date, have victimized thousands of individuals. The bad governance practices include; violations of laws committed in order to strip or deny individuals and targeted groups of the basic rights and privileges enumerated and guaranteed by tribal, state, and/or federal statutes. Elder Abuse is also a concern. In most instances, the victims of these bad governance practices are denied recourse against the tribal official perpetrators due to the fact that the officials invoke tribal sovereignty to escape prosecution. To wield sovereignty like a club on their own people, then use it as a shield to protect themselves is immoral and unethical.

There are tribes across our country, including the hosting nation, the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians that have terminated a significant portion of their tribal citizens. In California alone, nearly 2500 Indian people have been stripped of their tribal citizenship since the approval and expansion of Indian Gaming in 2000, stripping them of the right to vote, representation for their allotted tribal lands and both health care and per capita. The total of per capita theft in California is nearing the $500 million dollar mark after just six years. By the end of the first compacts, the total lost will top $1.2 billion dollars. 

At the rally will be representatives from numerous tribes who have victimized their people. Tribes such as the Snoqualmie Tribe of Washington State , the Jamul Indian Village , the Redding Rancheria, the Enterprise Rancheria, Picayune Rancheria and others including the Cherokee Nation of OK, which once owned slaves, have found it fitting to deny or strip its members of their basic rights.

These acts have violated the United States and Tribal Constitutions; the Bill of Rights; the Indian Civil Rights Act; and tribal laws which were specifically enacted to protect the basic rights of the Indian individual. An oversight hearing into the enforcement of ICRA has been requested.

However, tribes and tribal officials have, as a matter of course, invoked the tribes' sovereign immunity to escape prosecution for their actions in State or Federal Courts. As a result, the Courts have routinely dismissed the actions for lack of jurisdiction, and the victims of this "tribal abuse" find themselves with no recourse with which to hold tribal officials accountable for their corrupt acts and abuse of power.
We ask that you publicize the protest in your outlets and help to draw attention to these egregious acts.

Media Contact: NANCY RIOS: 951-655-0598

For More Background Information: or or

UPDATE: BREAKING NEWS: Picayune Rancheria Laying Groundwork for More Indian Termination Acts

UPDATE:    Patrick hammond, former chair of the enrollment committee at picayune and recently elected to his second term on the PRCI council, has been formally removed from the council following a hearing before same...

Sources from the Picayune Rancheria, which operates the Chukchansi Gold Casino, already well known for their brazen act of Indian Termination, (elimination of 50% of their tribal members) is laying the groundwork for MORE destruction of Native Americans.   Also will eliminate child care.....  read below for the Picayune Rancheria's "Indian Way" of doing business.

The Picayune Tribal Council has submitted a petition to amend the Enrollment Ordinance to require DNA testing for tribal membership. This same proposal also removes language that secures the tribal membership of the current enrollment, paving the way for hundreds of further disenrollments of those Chukchansi still recognized at Picayune. This proposed amended Enrollment Ordinance was brought forward at the monthly tribal meeting April 25th, 2011, which was attended by only 35 tribal members. Written input will only be accepted until May 25 by the executive secretary to the council, at which time the recently installed tribal council will vote on--and undoubtedly approve--this proposal resulting in almost immediate implementation of new dismemberment hearings, as well as rulings on/disenrollments of those brought to hearing in 2007 with no decision rendered.

Furthermore, a resolution was passed at the April 21, 2011 business meeting held by the tribal council "Resolution 2011-32- ADOPTION OF POLICY FOR DEFINITION OF AN ELIGIBLE CHILD" which immediately has denied eligibility of the children of a certain group of members within the tribe "petitioners" from receiving any tribal benefits or funding-- including childcare and inclusion in the tribal pre-school program.

Both the proposed amendment to the Enrollment Ordinance and this resolution were developed, and in the case of the resolution passed, without notice to tribal members of any plan for change. Furthermore, funding for the children of the "petitioners" has been stopped immediately without written advance notice to those affected.

The blatant violation of the tribal, civil, and human rights of those at Picayune continues with the focus on those most unable to defend themselves--our children, our future generations.

The Indian way? Non-existent in tribes such as Picayune, whose corrupt tribal governments exist today only to decimate their own People, destroy their own culture, and defile their own ancestors in their insatiable lust for power and their unending greed.  This is a tribal casino to avoid, immediately.

Pechanga Casino CRIMEWATCH: Woman Injured in Strong Arm Robbery at Pechanga Casino in Temecula

Peter Surowski reports for  on a STRONGARM ROBBERY at the Pechanga Resort & Casino, and NO, it doesn't appear to be one of the felons that inhabit the reservation..... this time   Be safe, avoid the casino

A Temecula man was behind bars today for allegedly robbing a woman outside Pechanga Casino and dragging her with his car, authorities said.

Eric Michael Weekly, 23, of Murrieta, and Marcos Flores Sanchez, 27, of Temecula, allegedly drove up beside the victim as she was walking in the parking lot outside Pechanga Resort and Casino at about 3:30 a.m. Sunday.

The passenger in the car reached out and grabbed the woman's purse, but the woman attempted to hang onto her purse, and was dragged 10 to 15 feet, said sheriff's Sgt. Keith Knotek in a press release.

"The victim fell onto the pavement after being dragged, at which time she suffered minor to moderate injuries," Knotek said.

We hope the victim recovers quickly. It may be safer to not visit this casino.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Are Tribes That Are Disenrolling Members Also Guilty of Elder Abuse?

What is Elder Abuse?

According to the California State Bar Association:

It is the neglect, exploitation or “painful or harmful” mistreatment of anyone who is 65 or older (or any disabled dependent adult aged (18 to 64). It can involve physical violence, psychological abuse, isolation, abandonment, abduction, false imprisonment or a caregiver’s neglect. It could also involve the unlawful taking of a senior’s money or property.

In short, elder abuse involves various crimes, such as theft, assault or identity theft, that strike victims of all ages. But when the victim is 65 years old or older (or a disabled dependent adult), the criminal faces stiffer penalties.

Hunter Elder Matilda Smith, now 81 years old, recalled being on the reservation in the late 1930’s. “It was a long trip to get there, especially in those days”. “But that is where our roots were, my grandmother loved it there.” Her grandmother was Mary Ann Miller, daughter of Paulina Hunter, an original allottee of the Temecula Reservation known as Pechanga.

Matilda was 75 years old when the Pechanga tribal council, abandoned her, unlawfully taking this senior's money, health care, voting rights and her rights as an allottee.

Similar stories can be found in other families. The Tosobol family has brothers that are 80 and 75 years old, Manuel and Mike, who are denied access to their property. The wife of one member actually called the tribal rangers to have some Tosobol members banished from the reservation (isolation and abandonment). The Manuela Mirandas have the most senior elders of those abused by the tribe. Michael Salinas is 90 years old, and others born shortly after Prohibition began.

These stories predate the coming of a casino, but the abuse came after. Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro is directly responsible for what happened to hundreds of people, and a significant portion are elders. Next time you hear about him giving praise to elders of the tribe, keep in mind what he did to many of them.

Join us in a protest of Tribal Civil Rights Violations at the Pechanga Resort and Casino. THIS IS NOT JUST A PROTEST AGAINST Pechanga, it's to bring notice of all abuses in Indian Country by corrupt tribal councils.

45000 Temecula Parkway, Temecula CA June 2 at 4 p.m.

Oranna Felter: Mixed Blood Uintas Continue Fight to Repeal Public Law 671

Our friend Oranna Felter has a letter to editor up that points out that the fight of the Mixed Blood Uinta's is NOT over.  They are taking their fight to Congress.  Let's not let the government succeed in wiping out another Indian Tribe.

Dear Editor,

I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone who sent, faxed emailed and personally dropped off petitions to have Public Law 671 of the 83rd Congress repealed. We now have hundreds of petitions that will be used to have the law repealed.

A notice of the petitions was posted in the local paper, a meeting was called for the purpose of approving the petitions and getting them ready for the repeal. At the meeting the members voted to accept the petitions and head to Congress. Many petitions were signed there.

On April 30, Attorney Dennis Chappabitty and myself sent out letters to all who had previously submitted petitions along with recently received petitions. We were amazed at the amount of petitions that we now have on file and thank you for having faith and confidence in us and we look forward to working with you in getting this repeal done as quickly as possible.

We decided to start working on a repeal while the Felter case was still in the federal courts, just in case we didn't get a favorable decision, because we felt after eight years of waiting and expenses, and our people passing away we could wait no longer. We wanted to be ready to take the final step to Congress. When the decision came down against us, we were ready to move forward. We felt the court system is a waste of time and money.

There were times that I felt I wanted to just give up after spending a lifetime trying to get some kind of justice for me, my family and all the individual terminated mixed-bloods and our descendents who supported us, especially after the case was dismissed. But Dennis Chappabitty, our attorney, refused and still refuses to give up until our identities as American Indians and the identities of our descendants is restored.

For all of you who have your petitions in, we will be going on with our “Journey to Justice” to walk the halls of Congress and we are proud that you have chosen to walk with us. We have prayed that all of our case members would stick together and most of you have, plus others. To any of you who hasn't got your petitions in, time is of the essence.

We will keep all of you who submitted your petitions informed as we work diligently to have this genocidal law repealed as quickly as possible. Every day is a work day for us.

May Grandfather walk this path with us and our spiritual men shower us with blessings to keep the path open and have the halls of Congress hold out their arms in welcome us as we present our petitions and bill.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Letter to Rep. Mary Bono Mack from a Tribal Constituent on Pechanga's Civil Rights Violations

Here's a letter to Rep. Mary Bono Mack on a prior resolution, opposing transfer of lands to Pechanga. It's a good format and shows the need to communicate with our elected representatives.

I am submitting this letter in opposition to House Resolution 28. I oppose the transfer of the lands to the Pechanga Band based on the Pechanga Band's actions to deprive and deny individuals of their human and civil rights. No entity that participates in, supports, or otherwise partakes in human and/or civil rights violations should benefit from the public trust.

The actions taken by the Pechanga Band mirror those described in Congress during hearings on the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968 in which it was stated that "..a tribe may deprive its members of property and liberty without due process of law and not come under the limitations applicable to federal and state governments as stated in the Bill of Rights" (Chairman Ervin, Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights).

A main purpose of the ICRA was to "… protect individual Indians from arbitrary and unjust actions of tribal governments." The ICRA was also intended to address the very types of human and civil rights violations that are currently occurring in Indian Country- violations like those committed by the Pechanga Band- and to secure for the individual American Indian the broad constitutional rights afforded all other American citizens.

However, Pechanga Tribal officials have hid behind the Tribe's sovereignty to escape prosecution and prevent the victims of their actions from seeking recourse for the injury and harm resulting from the human and civil rights violations. Although the tribal officials may be immune from suit, this does not equate to innocence of action.

In light of the human and civil rights violations committed by the Pechanga Band, I must oppose House Resolution 28, and I ask that Congress initiate a thorough investigation of the Pechanga Band's human and civil rights violations.

Respectfully submitted,

Henry Madariaga

Rep. Mike Thompson asked for an oversight hearing last year into this issue. We must continue to press for that with Rep. Darrell Issa, who was hoodwinked in the last land transfer..

Thank you to NDN News for Publicizing The Protest June 2 at Pechanga's Resort & Casino

Our good friend Tamra Brennan has revamped her website NDN News and we like the look of it.   We'd like to thank her for publicizing the June 2 protest of civil rights violations and human rights violations in Indian Country.  That protest will be at the Pechanga Resort & Casino in Temecula.  We ask that you DO NOT patronize the casino and ask your friends to avoid it too.   Please check in on NDN News and bookmark it for easy access.

Also check out NDN Market for books, movies and other Native American materials.     Thank you all for supporting the website of our friend.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Picayune Rancheria's Grant Program Leaves Some Disappointed

The Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians' Community Grant Program awarded close to $1 million to a variety of organizations across Madera County.

The rancheria has awarded grants to government, schools and nonprofits through the Community Grant Program since 2007 and will continue to do so through 2016 under an agreement with Madera County.

Not everyone was happy when the grants were announced.

"I have to express my disappointment in the grant allocations," said Madera County District 2 Supervisor David Rogers of Chowchilla. "Sixty percent are being given to the eastern part of Madera County and not a single one of the nine grant requests from District 2 were on the slate and it was very disappointing."

We say:  WHY accept money from a tribe that has destroyed 50% of their own membership? The tribe deserves your SCORN, Madera County, not you going to them for handouts.   If they will cheat their own people, no wonder they will cheat YOU.

Join us in a protest of Tribal Civil Rights Violations at the Pechanga Resort and Casino
45000 Temecula Parkway, Temecula CA   June 2 at 4 p.m.

$350 Million Dollar Stealing Pechanga Tribe Accuse Men of Scamming Them of $25K

The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians, which has used unconstitutional acts to scam over $350 MILLION from former tribal members and allottees of the reservation, accuse two men of stealing $25K. Guess they don't like it when it's done to them? Have they checked all their tribal officials expense reports?

Two men who racked up about $25,000 in jackpots on slot machines at Pechanga Resort & Casino near Temecula have been accused of fraud and grand theft, Riverside County court records show.

The men did not find a way to game the slot machines. Authorities say Hung D. Nguyen, 32, of Stanton, and Eric Hoang, 28, of Garden Grove, used stolen Visa debit card numbers to charge up the credits they used to play.

The men have also been charged in federal court, accused of stealing more than $400,000 from Chase Bank in a debit card scam that included visits to Las Vegas casinos, federal court records show.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Pechanga Corruption: Pechanga Attorney No Longer Has Carte Blanche on Tribal Credit Cards?

Sources from the Pechanga Reservation have said that because he used tribal credit cards to take his family on an expensive Pebble Beach vacation, they were taken away.    It seems the shorter brother, and tribal attorney was reprimanded for unauthorized use.    Let's see, if you did that with your company, what would be the consequences?

And, since they weren't authorized expenses, shouldn't they have to be reported as income and therefore taxed?  We know he doesn't live on the rez and he sold his home for HALF the purchase price.   Is this something the Board of Equalization should be investigating?     If he'll cheat the tribe on his expense report on something THAT big... how much other misappropriation might there be?

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Asst. Secretary of Indian Affairs Larry Echohawk Has Recieved Request to Meet

We have received word from Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs Larry Echohawk's office that they have received our request form they require to facilitate a meeting.  The confirmation comes outside the two week window they require so that should not be an issue.

We hold out hope that Secretary Echohawk will speak to a group of Native Americans that will be protesting at the reservation of a tribe that practices apartheid, and one that has violated the civil rights of a significant portion of its citizens.  Please invite our speakers into Pechanga's meeting area or come out to the street, where the protesters will be..

THANK YOU in advance for your consideration, Mr. Secretary.

Read more on Pechanga's Apartheid Practices HERE   On Snoqualmie Abuses HERE    On Redding Rancheria Here

Cedric Sunray on the Attacks on Non Federally Recognized Tribes, Supported by Gaming Tribes

Cedric Sunray has an interesting (and long, there is more after the jump) piece on tribes that are not federally recognized.  We recently published on the Juaneno's that are having a problem with recognition.   Recognition can take 20 years. And disenrollments?  43 Federally recognized tribes have disenrolled their own tribal members within the last 10 years.  All run gaming enterprises  And don't you think tribes don't want MORE tribes to be recognized, so they can't open competing casinos?

From Cedric Sunray:

Here is brief narrative for those who do not have time to visit the site.  I thank you for supporting social justice and integrity.

Let us start it with a quote that guides my life. The quote comes from Archbishop Desmond Tutu: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

At the last two National Congress of American Indians gatherings members of historic tribes such as the Lumbee and MOWA Choctaw, amongst others, told the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma clearly that their days of running around the country acting like Indian Identity Police are over.

In an article entitled, “Reconciling moral outrage with self-determination” in Indian Country Today on March 9, 2007, Keweenaw Bay Ojibwe Sheryl Lightfoot (Chair of the American Indian Policy Center, St. Paul, Minnesota) went directly at the moral injustice being perpetrated by the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. She expressed a way that we all can deal with this. “

Another tactic which can be employed by other indigenous nations or the private citizens of other nations is the art of moral persuasion, or ‘moral suasion,’ as it has also been termed. This involves a campaign of exposure and embarrassment. This tactic has most often been employed in international human rights campaigns, with the purpose being to expose the immoral government action in the media and open up international discussion in order to embarrass the target government into changing its policy to better conform to international norms. This was done in the early days of the campaign against apartheid in South Africa and has been used often by groups like Amnesty International to urge governments to stop human rights abuses. Finally, follow the money. Those of us who find the actions of the sovereign Cherokee Nation disturbing or morally questionable also have some economic options…”

Certain members of the leadership of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma have made it their duty to play God to the identity of others with the belief that they will never be “found out” themselves. But now they are crumbling, falling back on their heels, and looking to once again change their words to sound good to a new audience who have not encountered them in the near past. There is nothing worse than people who create monsters and then attempt to walk away or act like they were never present when things go bad. A few years back the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma developed a “Task Force” to combat the validity of anyone or any tribe which is not federally-recognized. They simply went too far when instead of producing civil dialogue, they attempted to belittle and make fun of “non-federal” or “unrecognized” tribal people and communities. In an article entitled, “Indian identity remains in question”, which addressed issues at the 2008 State of Sequoyah Commission’s annual conference, members of the Task Farce’s actions (as I more appropriately renamed them; read on and find out why) where relayed, “Poteete and other panelists jokingly adopted such ‘wannabe’ names as ‘Chief flies High and Eats Pie’, ‘Chief Talks Trash’, ‘Princess Dream Catcher’, and ‘Princess Buffalo Wings”. One of the Cherokee council members Cara Cowan-Watts stated, “We would like to make impersonation of a tribe, or a tribal citizen, a felony”.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

"Without A Tribe" KNBC's Report on Pechanga's Disenrollment; See Macarro Lie in 16 seconds.

This details the disenrollment of Pechanga members in 2006.  The Paulina Hunter descendents, which was the second family to be terminated from the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians.  Please listen to THEIR expert Dr John Johnson speak. WE DID NOT HIRE Dr. Johnson, the foremost expert on California Indians PECHANGA DID.

Why did they not believe their OWN expert? Because he didn't come to the conclusion they wanted.  They accepted hearsay evidence versus the historical record of their own tribe.

SADLY, Lawrence Madariaga, Hunter Family Elder, has passed away. This happened because Frances Miranda, Ihrene Scearce and Ruth Masiel disregarded their experts report, and believed a CHILD MOLESTER instead.  It's a disgrace and an action worthy of your scorn.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Letters to Speakers Attending Conference in Apartheid-Practicing Tribal Nation of Pechanga: A Snoqualmie Story.

Letters are going out to speakers from the upcoming Tribal Leader's Conference at the Apartheid-practicing reservation of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. While these speakers are looking to get meaninful change in an unstable political environment, they should be looking within their own nations and other tribal nations such as Snoqualmie from Washington State., with their 'shadow government' which we have posted on before.  Work on the corruption within Indian Country.

Here is a letter from the Snoqualmie 9, written by Carolyn Lubenau which details what happened to her family:

My name is Carolyn Lubenau and I have been enrolled since birth in the Snoqualmie Tribe in Washington State as was my Mother, my Grandmother, my Great-Grandmother up to the signing of the Pt. Elliott Treaty and beyond- we have always been Snoqualmie.

In 2008, myself and 8 other enrolled tribal members were illegally banished from the Snoqualmie Tribe. Three of the banished were our spiritual leaders – one a minister in the 1910 Indian Shaker Church – another spiritual worker was banished for saying a prayer the tribal council felt admonished their actions. My tribe did not have a tribal court and the story of our banishment was printed on the front page of the Seattle Times many times. Our banishment is a documented case of civil rights violations and the Federal Judge, James Robart overturned the banishment in the precedent setting case – Sweet vs Hinzman.

To this day, over three years later, we have not been allowed back into our tribe. We have a corrupt tribal council who violates the civil rights of all its citizens each day and despite being voting overwhelmingly by our tribal members to be reinstated many times without restriction, our corrupt tribal council will not reinstate us. This is a blatant civil rights violation. The Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior all say this is an “inter-tribal” dispute and they will not get involved despite a Federal Judge’s order.

I have asked my Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell “who enforces a Federal Judge’s order?” Their response is they don’t know and although they have tried to find some answers, they have not been able to answer the question.

I’m asking you, who upholds the individual civil rights of tribal citizens? You speak of sovereignty but do you speak of the genocide of disenrolling and banishing tribal members to cover up lawlessness and corruption? Do you speak about the responsibility of sovereigns to their people.? Do you speak of honor and human rights? Will you speak of the violations to our human rights by being “arbitrarily exiled” from our own nations? We are exiled from the sacred grounds of our ancestors – what sovereign would do such a thing to their people?

The answer is no one will protect an individuals civil rights in corrupt tribes and tribal governments like Pechanga who exile their own people. I am respectfully requesting that you think about these questions and think about the thousands of Native Americans yet to have protected civil rights.  I would ask that you support our protest at Pechanga over civil rights violations and if you are guided to still speak at this forum, I hope you speak of the dishonor of using sovereignty for greed and corruption – to hide behind sovereignty and dishonor your own people. I hope you speak of fairness, transparency and justice.

With a hopeful heart,

Carolyn Lubenau
Maple Valley, WA

Monday, May 16, 2011

Protest Planned at Pechanga's Tribal Leader's Conference, to Highlight Civil Rights Abuses and Indian Terminations

UPDATE:   The main gathering time has been changed to 4 p.m. to accomodate out of state supporters.  This will also fit into local news stations.   There will be a contingent there in the morning, so if that works better for your schedule, please join in.  Bring a friend or two, or three.   This is NOT a Native only issue. 

The Tosobol Clan, who are caught up in the illegal moratorium of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians is planning a protest at the Pechanga Resort and Casino, the site of this years Tribal Leader's Conference.   Pechanga is well known as a civil rights abuser and a tribe that practices apartheid on their reservation.  There have been numerous protests at the Pechanga Reservation.

There will be protesters at the beginning of the conference, which is scheduled for June 2 at 8:00 a.m.   Representatives for the three clans, Tosobol, Apish and Hunters will be in attendance.   They ask that all who believe in civil rights and basic human rights join them in a peaceful protest.   Larry Echohawk, who ruled in favor of ousting members of the San Pascual Band is scheduled to be a speaker and we hope he will speak out of the violations of civil and human rights by tribal councils.  Speaking real truth to power is needed here.  We are asking Senator Daniel Akaka to hold hearings on the abuses in Indian Country.

We wrote is a previous post:

Tribal governments find themselves in an unstable political environment because many have chosen not to uphold either their own constitutions, nor the will of their people. Disenrollments, moratoriums and banishments have become the way. Leaders lie to Congress to gain land. They try to steal water from reservation allottees, so that casinos will benefit, while the land lies barren, in a plan so egregious, the the BIA has to stand up for allottees at the expense of tribal leaders.

Tribal governments face issues and challenges because some tribes, such as: Pechanga, Picayune, Redding, Enterprise, Snoqualmie, Mooretown, San Pascual and the CHEROKEE cause politicians to have to think twice about what they are getting into business with some tribes. If tribes like those above can cheat, defraud, and steal from their own people, can they be considered trustworthy?

Please come by to show support for tribal people across the nation that have suffered at the hands of corrupt tribal governments.  The total stolen from CA tribal people is nearly a HALF BILLION DOLLARS in just a few short years.

Court of Appeals overturns District Court's Decision on Ken Salazar's Buena Vista Rancheria "unreviewable" Tactic

A panel of three Washington, D.C. appellate court judges has overturned a lower court decision dismissing a lawsuit brought by Amador County as part of its efforts to stop a proposed casino from being built on Coal Mine Road near Ione.

The U.S. Court of Appeals, in what county officials are counting as a victory, overturned a 2009 decision in which the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia ruled the county could not sue U.S. Department of the Interior Secretary Ken Salazar over his decision to recognize a 67.5 acre parcel of land owned by the Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians as legitimate Indian lands. Salazar's determination was made automatically, after he allowed a 45-day timeframe to pass without offering any written explanation, a legal tactic and event his department's attorneys argued was "unreviewable."

In a 20-page opinion written by Circuit Court Judge David S. Tatel, Tatel said, "We agree with the district court that the County has standing, but because we conclude that the Secretary's inaction is in fact reviewable, we reverse and remand for the district court to consider the merits ..." The May 6 decision now sends the case back to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for further

President Obama said he was going to have the most "transparent administration, ever" and this certain doesn't fit that mold.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Pechanga Corruption Exposed: Moratorium On Enrollment Broken for Former Head of Enrolloment Committee

Sub headline would read:   Was enrollment of Bobbi LeMere's Sister a quid pro quo for voting to disenroll the entire Hunter Family?

This would mean that Bobbi LeMere's sister would have now received some $1.3 million after being enrolled after there were a hundred others stuck in Pechanga's unconstitutional moratorium on enrollment. 

Original Pechanga's Blog has received copies of transcripts from a June 2006 meeting where Gloria Wright laughingly said that they needed to have fair government.

From the record: 

GLORIA WRIGHT:   If we're not a fair government to the people that are also waiting in the moratorium but they don't have a relative on the Enrollment Committee, then we're not being fair across the board and if we are not fair, then we have a corrupt government.....

What should this mean?   Frequent poster Allen Lee once said:

If the dis-enrollments and moratorium can be directly tied to racketeering by criminals who have a strangle-hold on the tribal government, then federal intervention may be warranted for both the dis-enrollments and the moratorium? Don't know for sure, but it looks like racketeering, embezzlement, and fraud should be investigated.
It would mean that every official act made by suspect government oficials was also suspect, including state gambling compacts, dis-enrollments and the moratorium, land into trust, BIA contracts, etc.
Fraud would include enrolling the sister of the head of the enrollment committee in violation of a tribal law, would it not?  Embezzlement would mean giving that sister a share of per capita she is not entitled to?


Juanenos Plan To Appeal Denial of Federal Recognition

THEY MUST COME TOGETHER AS ONE TRIBE TO BE SUCCESSFUL.  Their segregation into three groups has hurt their cause.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs calls its March 15 rejection of a federal recognition for the Juaneño Band of Mission Indians a “Final Determination.”

The 147-page document painstakingly undermines the Juaneños’ contentions that they are descendants a pre-Mission tribe, have lived under their own governance and continually been recognized as a tribe, pointing out that nearly half of the 200 living Indians around the Mission in 1862 were wiped out by smallpox. Then, the federal government says, the tribe sort of drifted away.

“There is no evidence that the petitioner’s SJC Indian ancestors were distinct within this community after 1862, or were part of an Indian entity that evolved from the SJC Indian tribe in 1834; rather, they appear to be Indian individuals who became absorbed into the general, ethnically-mixed population of Old Mexican/Californio families, as well as with non-SJC Indians who moved to the town prior to 1900.”

To be federally recognized a group must “comprise a distinct community and have existed as a community from historical times,” must have “political influence” over its members; must have membership criteria, must have membership that consists of individuals who descend from a historical Indian tribe and who are not enrolled in any other tribe.

The feds say the Juaneños failed to demonstrate they’ve been recognized as a distinct community, that the tribe has continued from a historical tribe, have maintained political influence over members and that its members descended from Native Americans in the tribe.

But the Juaneno Band of Mission Indians, which claims 1,940 members, said the rejection is anything but the last word, anything but final. The tribe has until mid-June to appeal the 147-page decision to a special panel in Washington D.C.

“We have to appeal . That’s just part of the process,” Juaneño Chairman Anthony Rivera, who holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Brigham Young University and a Masters Degree from Harvard University. “It’s a long process. We have to go through the appeal process. We have to demonstrate they are wrong.”

Rep. Leader Bill Leonard Endorses San Manuel's James Ramos for County Supervisor

The former Republican Leader for the Senate and Assembly, Bill Leonard, has endorsed James Ramos for County Supervisor in the 3rd district.

"James Ramos is a man of great integrity and character and his election will help restore the public's faith in their county government," said Leonard. "James is also a dedicated public servant who donates countless hours to improving life in San Bernardino County. We are blessed that he has stepped forward and offered to serve."   OP:  WOW, the same could NOT be said about Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro could it?  A man who oversees the termination of Indians is NOT concerned about improving life, but harming it.

Bill Leonard represented San Bernardino County in the Assembly and Senate and was elected Republican Leader in both houses of the legislature. He recently finished his second term as a member of the State Board of Equalization.

James Ramos is a small business owner, long-time community leader and elected member of the San Bernardino Community College Board of Trustees. He holds a Masters Degree in Business Administration from The University of Redlands. James has served on numerous boards and organizations promoting business, economic and social opportunities in the greater San Bernardino area. In 2005 he was elected with strong bi-partisan support and re-elected in 2010 to the San Bernardino Community College. James has been appointed by both Republican and Democratic Governors to key state positions. He currently serves on the State Board of Education.

Ramos announced his candidacy in the 3rd district on Monday. Republican Senator Bill Emmerson has also endorsed Ramos.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Bill Poses Problems for Enterprise Rancheria. We Say: GOOD. This Tribe Should Not Benefit from Stripping Rights From Citizens

A bill by U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein could pose a problem for Enterprise Rancheria as the tribe nears the end of its quest to open a Yuba County casino.

The bill, co-authored by U.S. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona, would clarify standards for a tribe wanting to build a casino project outside areas considered its traditional ancestral area.

Though based in Oroville, tribal members of Enterprise Rancheria, also known as the Estom Yumeka Maidu, have said Yuba County was also part of the lands where their ancestors roamed.

Tribal chairwoman Glenda Nelson  (OP: HALL OF SHAME MEMBER) said she thought there was a low possibility of Feinstein's bill affecting the casino's viability, because her tribe's connection to the region is solid.

"Sometimes these bills have different effects," Nelson said, adding the two-step process her tribe is going through, requiring approval from both state and federal authorities, could differentiate Enterprise Rancheria from the kinds of projects Feinstein's bill is aimed at.

Nelson also pointed out the tribe maintains an office in Marysville and partners with other tribes on a health clinic for tribal members in Yuba City.
The proposal for the Enterprise Rancheria hotel and casino, near Sleep Train Amphitheatre on Forty Mile Road, is with the federal Office of Indian Gaming for a final decision on whether the tribe could take the land into trust.

Feinstein's bill, S. 771, the Tribal Gaming Eligibility Act, would allow tribes to open casinos on land taken into trust only if the tribe could demonstrate a substantial modern and aboriginal or ancestral connection to the land.

"The fact is that some tribes have abused their unique right to operate casinos and have ignored the intent of Congress by taking land into trust miles away from their historical lands," Feinstein, D-California, said in a statement announcing the legislation last month. "This is done simply to produce the most profitable casino and the greatest number of potential gamblers, often with little regard to the local communities."

Mooretown Rancheria, an Oroville-based tribe that operates Feather Falls Casino near Oroville, sent Feinstein's office a letter supporting the bill.

"We have a unique perspective on this issue because out-of-state investors have come to our area seeking to move tribes from their aboriginal and historic areas in an effort to develop casino projects in areas closer to population centers," says the April 27 letter signed by Mooretown Rancheria chairman Gary Archuleta. 

Archuleta has opposed Enterprise Rancheria's plans, describing them as "reservation shopping," a term also used by Feinstein in her announcement of the legislation.
The press release specifically mentioned California, which has 58 Indian casinos operating, as ground zero for such issues. The bill was introduced and referred to the Committee on Indian Affairs.

Feinstein also made reference to a 2006 study showing increased crime and addiction problems in California cities where a casino opened nearby, as well as a strain on local government budgets.
In 2005, Yuba County residents opposed the casino with 52.1 percent in an advisory ballot measure. Yuba County supervisors in 2002 approved a memorandum of understanding with the tribe to cover impacts if the casino is built.

Nelson said she's not sure when the federal government will give final word on taking land into trust, adding only five tribes have completed the two-step process since 1988, when the federal bill allowing Indian casinos was passed.

"If we didn't think we'd be successful, we wouldn't still be going through it," Nelson said. "We are in our area."

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blogger Down, Thanks for your Patience; Read some previous Posts

We've received many comments that our readers can't comment on our blog posts... Blogger was down for maintenance issues.    Please take the time to read our earlier posts.  You can access our archives on the right sidebar.

Thursday posts should be restored sometime today.   Thank you all for your support of Original Pechanga's Blog.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Accused Perjurer Calls Out San Manuel Leader James Ramos on Tax Payments

The battle for the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisor Third District seat officially began Monday following San Manuel Tribal Chairman James Ramos’ announcement that he intended to run against incumbent Neil Derry.
Ramos made the announcement before a group of friends and supporters, according to a written statement released by Ramos.

“Over the past several months, I have received numerous phone calls from leaders in our community asking that I consider running for the Board of Supervisors," Ramos explained through the written statement on why he decided to run.
And after Third District Supervisor Neil Derry was accused of felony perjury and filing campaign documents that failed to report a $5,000 contribution, Ramos said the call for his candidacy gained a sense of urgency, he said.

“After discussing the idea with many leaders who I respect, and with my family, I have decided to announce today that I am a candidate for supervisor,” Ramos said Monday.

On April 26, the Attorney General’s office filed a complaint against Derry accusing him of felony perjury and failing to report a $5,000 contribution from Arnold Stubblefield-Highland Town Shops. Derry is also accused of failing to report Stubblefield as a contributor, which is a misdemeanor.
"The people of San Bernardino County have been let down time and time again," Ramos said. "Public faith in our institutions and elected officials is crucial in our democracy. The people cannot have faith in their government when key government officials are being indicted and being forced to recuse themselves from important duties and votes due to legal problems."

Soon after the announcement, the Derry camp released its own statement.

Painting all Casino Indians with broad brush, Derry apparently says if one Indian doesn't pay his taxes, they all must be cheats.   Well, Mr. Derry, I can tell you that is quite wrong.  Before the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians cheated our family out of $1.3 MILLION each, I can tell you we paid taxes, a LOT of them.

Referring to Ramos as the San Manuel Casino Boss, Derry called for Ramos to release his personal income and property tax records. He challenged the tribal chairman to prove he’s has been paying state or local taxes, citing a Los Angeles Times report that that his tribal chairman predecessor did not.
“Is Mr. Ramos a tax scofflaw too?” Derry wrote.

Read the rest of the article

Monday, May 9, 2011

Pechanga's PDC: The Place to SCORE or Just a Flashpoint?

Word leaking out from the Pechanga Rez that there are problems with the leadership of The Pechanga Development Corporation.   One member being serviced in Clinton-like fashion on sacred ground (Journey Golf Course) and another imbibing on alcoholic beverages to the point of flashing others...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Robinson Rancheria Nixes Benefits from Gaming Fund to Lake County Sheriff Dept.

Elizabeth Larson, of the Lake County News one of the few writer's in the state that has focused on tribal disenrollments, has a story up on the possible "payback" to Lake County Sheriff Frank Rivero.  Rivero refused to grant access to Robinson Rancheria for the Sheriff's Records..

On Thursday, the Lake County Indian Gaming Local Community Benefit Committee held a meeting to discuss which local agencies' requests would receive portions of about $874,000 from the Indian Gaming Special Distribution Fund, to which Big Valley and Robinson Rancheria contribute. Middletown Rancheria does not pay into the fund.

Sheriff Frank Rivero – in his first funding request since taking office earlier this year – had submitted requests totaling about $450,000, according to committee documents Lake County News obtained from county officials.

However, the committee's vote resulted in Rivero receiving no funds.

On Friday Rivero said that he believes the vote against his request by Buffy Jimenez, Robinson's member on the commission, was in response to his refusal to grant Robinson Rancheria's tribal police access to certain sheriff's records and radio systems, as well as to his reported statement to the Robinson Rancheria tribal council that, “The sheriff’s office is not for sale.”

The tribe's attorney, Lester Marston, has not responded to requests from Lake County News for a comment on relations between the tribe and Rivero, and Robinson Rancheria Tribal Police Chief Dave Mendoza recently refused to accept a call from this reporter regarding interactions with the sheriff's office.

Read more on Robinson Rancheria   and Hall of Shame Entry Avila HERE

Read more on the Civil Rights Violations In Indian Country

Friday, May 6, 2011

DNA Proof of 99% Good Enough for OSAMA BIN Laden, but Not for Redding Rancheria in the FOREMAN FAMILY MATTER?

With our recent good fortune at killing Osama Bin Laden, we get proof at 99% that Osama Bin Laden's match to relatives is 99%.  That serves as proof enough to: The President of the United States, The Speaker of the House and the Attorney General.

To the corrupt leaders, including Tracey Edwards, of the Redding Rancheria, which forced the Foreman family to dig up two relatives to match DNA samples, 99% was not enough:

From Carla Foreman Maslin:

My tribe conjured up a rumor re: my family's genetics (lineal descendancy). We followed their rules that they changed every day because we gave them all the documentation they requested.
Went thru the hearing... process & jumped thru all unnecessary hoops only to be told in the end that they wanted miticondrial DNA. The proof we provided verified it.

Then they wanted genomic DNA, which meant to unearth our ancestors. It was done. And after the scientific evidence which proved we are lineal descendants above 99%, they still went against there own laws & kicked all members of my family out of our tribe. Go figure!

It was such a shock thru the country &  beyond that many articles were written about it. It still has profound affects on my family that some have literally killed themselves or gotten sick over it.

SHAME on the Redding Rancheria Council for diminishing this founding family