Here's an editorial in the Fresno Bee that gets a lot of things RIGHT. But following the piece is a rebuttal from disenrolled Chukchansi member Cathy Cory
It’s difficult to find anyone in the Chukchansi tribal controversy who shouldn’t share the blame for the dispute turning violent today. Both factions in the leadership battle took calculated steps that made violence likely. Government officials from the Bureau of Indian Affairs to the Madera County sheriff’s office refused to act, even when it became clear that illegal acts had been committed.
It is no excuse to say that tribal sovereignty prevented authorities from moving earlier. When it got to the riot stage, law enforcement finally got involved, rushing to the scene with officers from multiple jurisdictions. Tribal sovereignty was no longer an excuse to look the other way.
But the agency that is most to blame is the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which repeatedly refused to sort out the tribal dispute. The BIA, which is under the U.S. Department of Interior, should be very embarrassed over its unwillingness to do its job when its presence was needed most.
Had the BIA heeded the many early calls to recognize the duly elected tribal leadership, the dispute likely would not have gotten this far.
There are many victims, includal tribal members. It’s a sad time for the once-proud Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians. The tribe's leaders rioted instead of resolving their dispute honorably.
Official say up to 50 members of the rival Chukchansi Indian leadership factions were escorted from the tribal offices by law enforcement this afternoon. Two people were injured when a melee involving about 40 people broke out earlier at the grounds of the Picayune Rancheria.
This is a story of how gambling money ripped apart the Chukchansi tribe. It's about who controls the tribe's casino and who gets to benefit from the gambling money. An election in December, changed tribal council leadership, but the losing side refused to give up control. The BIA would not get involved and the sheriff called the dispute a “family matter.”
Both were outrageous responses to growing trouble with the tribal leadership. The election results were clear, but the BIA empowered the losing side by not acting.
While authorities ducked the difficult issues in this dispute, the refusal of the losing faction to leave in December started us on the course that ended in a riot. But that did not give the other side — which was the duly elected council — the right to break into the tribal offices on Monday.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs could have recognized the proper leadership. But the BIA shamefully refused to get involved.
This is a very sad saga that just might make California voters rethink their support of tribal gaming.
Cathy Cory's Response:
Although many of the articles in regard to the conflict at picayune seem to describe it as "recent," this is hardly the truth...these conflicts in regard to disenrollment and power within the tribe have been ......occurring for almost a twenty year period...the BIA and CONGRESS have long been aware of what is going on within several gaming tribes--this horrendous violation of thousands of indian people's tribal, civil, and human rights by their own corrupt tribal governments--BUT HAVE REFUSED PLEAS FOR HELP IN THIS VERY THEFT OF THEIR BIRTHRIGHT AS INDIAN PEOPLE...
Over 200 people were disenrolled from picayune in 1999, another 500-600 in 2006-2007, 57 in 2011, and around 70 thus far this year with another 200 pending...OVER ONE THOUSAND CHUKCHANSI PEOPLE--ELDERS AND FUTURE GENERATIONS--HAVE BEEN DISMEMBERED OR ARE PENDING DISENROLLMENT AS OF TODAY (significantly, in a tribe that had 1073 members in 1998 "pre-chukchansi gold"--NEARLY 2/3 OF THE TRIBE)
Picayune is only the tip of the iceberg...redding, dry creek, table mountain, pechanga, pala, san pasqual, enterprise--over 20 of the gaming tribes or those attempting to establish gaming here in california are engaging in this horrific genocide and theft of the very birthright of THOUSANDS of indian people WITHOUT SANCTION BENEATH THE GUISE OF "TRIBAL SOVEREIGNTY"...
Department of justice, the federal bureau of investigation, congress, and the bureau of indian affairs-- ALL should be involved at picayune...the tribal government there should be made to bring ALL the people home to picayune, and if unwilling to do so the casino should be closed and federal funds withdrawn until they do...
Honor the ancestors, the history, and the circle of our chukchansi people...bring the people--ALL the people--home to picayune...AND to every other tribe engaging in this blatant destruction of their people through dismemberment and nonrecognition...< b="">