The bad news keeps coming for lifelong members of Chukchansi. The BIA watches as the tribe burns. The government plays the fiddle while the destruction of CA tribes happens on their watch
Our friend Carmen George of the Sierra Star News has the latest tragic news. If you would like to voice your displeasure with Reggie Lewis you can do it at: email@example.com
For one family, descendants of the last Chukchansi chief, Chief Hawa and his daughter Princess Melliot, being Chukchansi has always been a way of life.
Since 1892, heirs of Chief Hawa -- who the family refers to as "Grandpa Mukchaw" -- have lived and raised their children on the family's 1,000-plus acre ranch in Ahwahnee beside the Fresno River, living off the land and raising cattle.
"In my family, from the day I was born, my dad told me I was Chukchansi," said Chris Ballew, 70, wife of the late Larry Ballew, well-known in the mountains for his work in conservation. "We were always proud to be Indian, even when it wasn't a fad to be Chukchansi."
Ballew's river house, an oasis tucked into a quiet valley, shelters dream catchers and wind chimes, healing crystals, carved walking sticks tucked into corners, and rawhide drums scattered here and there.
While she's spent a lifetime living in a native way, she, her daughter Ricginda Dryer, and her grandson Luke Dryer, received letters last week stating they are now disenrolled as members of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians.
The letters are signed by chairman Reggie Lewis, voted out by the tribe in a Dec. 3 tribal council election but still seated on council at the rancheria, and secretary Jennifer Stanley. firstname.lastname@example.org
A disenrollment means tribal members lose monthly stipends, currently about $380 a month from the rancheria's multi-million dollar casino revenues, and benefits for things like housing, education, medical, and elder and child services. Perhaps the most devastating, however, is what it can take from a family and culture, Ricginda said.
Her son Gabriel was disenrolled in 2007 when he was 13 because he was born a few years too late to be enrolled. He locked himself in his room for four days and cried and cried, she said.
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