Friday, March 2, 2012

Chukchansi legitimacy crisis is a predictable result of disenrollment - Kenneth Hansen

Professor Kenneth Hansen of Fresno State has an opinion on the legitimacy of the Chukchansi Tribe. Is this the SAME tribe as recognized by the government?

Certain people would have us believe that the political dispute at the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians is an internal matter. They couldn't be more wrong. Civil rights violations are a matter of public concern. Transparency and democracy are needed to address the issues of political legitimacy and disenrollment that are vital to all of Indian Country.

In a July 2009 conference call with Jerry Gidner, the deputy director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Laura Wass, the director of Central Valley AIM; civil rights attorney Tony Cohen; University of Minnesota political science professor David Wilkins; and I all attempted, to no avail, to get the BIA to force tribal governments to stop disenrolling their members.
We argued that this practice is a serious civil rights violation, tantamount to people being denied citizenship and being kicked out of their country. We argued that no good could come of this and it would only lead to greater problems.

Tony Cohen said that the BIA should enforce the Indian Civil Rights Act of 1968, designed to protect Indians from tribal governments. Gidner said that the BIA would only get involved when either, 1) there was unfair distribution of resources, and 2) when there were voting irregularities.

My question now is, what are they waiting for?
When people are disenrolled from an indigenous community, they are denied benefits and voting rights. This is an inherently political act, not unlike a gerrymander, where the politicians pick their voters rather than the other way around.

This would be like the Democrats saying they were going to revoke the citizenship of Republicans (or vice versa) so as to fix the next election. Paraphrasing Joseph Stalin, it's not who votes, it's who counts the votes that matters. Nobody should want to be compared to Joseph Stalin!
As it pertains to the disputed Chukchansi election, the people who won the election and were not allowed to assume power have had their civil rights violated as well, especially Harold Hammond.

Harold is a Vietnam veteran, and a respected spiritual elder, not just for Chukchansis, but for the greater indigenous community in the Central Valley. He was chosen by the eligible Chukchansi voters and then disqualified after the fact. That became the pretext for Reggie Lewis to refuse to hand over power to the new council.

Now instead of one seven-member council, there are two four-member councils. This created the legitimacy crisis, but one could argue about the legality of the election in the first place, given that hundreds of disenrolled citizens were not allowed to participate to begin with.
The quick fix would be for the BIA to step in and choose one of the two councils to constitute a majority of the new board. While that might make for a temporary peace, it doesn't get to the root of the problem.
Certainly the BIA, or perhaps a federal judge, needs to step in to mediate, so as to prevent more violence from breaking out and to provide for the administration of tribal government services. However, this would not address the greater problem of re-enfranchising the 500 or so tribal members who have been disenrolled over the past decade.

From what I understand, at one time the population of the Chukchansi tribe was around 1,500 people, and is now down to fewer than 1,000. That would be the equivalent of California revoking the citizenship of some 12 million people!

The real solution to the Chukchansi legitimacy crisis would be for the federal court to restore tribal memberships to those from whom it was revoked, and then hold an election in which everyone is allowed to participate.

Read more here:


Anonymous said...

This exact legitimacy challenge has arisen in the Oneida Indian Nation because the BIA appointee turned his back on the Haudenosaune Grand Council, all of the other members of the Six Nations including the Oneida of Wisconsin and created a whole new 'nation' called OIN of New York, which is a corporate model operation without a Chief, but having a CEO all to control the casino money. They used to bring metal pots and trinkets to divide us against one another, then they brought small pox infected blankets, then they brought guns knowing we would use them against each other, and now it is casinos and disenrollments they have brought knowing that we would self destruct fighting amongst ourselves so that we could have the bright shiny trinkets and metal pots hoarded by the Indian One Percenters. Sad, very sad....but only we can change it. We don't want the US Government to have more power than they already have, and asking them to intervene only weakens what sovereignty there is left. I would love to see disenrollments found to violate ICRA, forcing the US to reinstate all People, but then we will be faced with another greedy agenda by those who want to muscle their way to the food table, pushing women, children and Elders out of their way. Is this who we are? Don

Anonymous said...

Its a sad state of affairs when there is no legitimate remedy to deal with this kind of wrong doing....what's even worse ... they know that they can get away with it, with impunity.

Anonymous said...

Why is everyone, including tribes who don't toss their members out but respect their right to tribal identity, NOT condemning the abusive tribes? If Congress amends the Indian civil rights act, it is because they did not speak up before someone was killed and Congress come in.

Anonymous said...

Very good point. Evil only flourishes when good people do nothing. Now that does not mean resorting to violence, because then the only message heard is the violence. When I was on the NYC Steering Committee for the 2000 'Walk for Healing and Reconciliation' organizing the Peaceful demonstration from Battery Park to the United Nations trying to persuade the Pres Clinton to grant Leonard Clemency (but Leonard was Mark Rich enough to receive one)our security people made clear that there would be FBI instigators in the crowd trying to start fights and violence even with the police to instigate violence. We told everyone, even the security to watch, record if you had a camera but under no circumstances step or in get involved because that is what the Feds wanted. Martin Luther King Jr showed how nonviolence is much more effective than violence. A leader exposes who he is when is resorts to using violence against his own people simply to vain or maintain control or suppress the exercise of nonviolent free speech. Stay strong. Don

'aasmokat said...

"Why is everyone, including tribes who don't toss their members out but respect their right to tribal identity, NOT condemning the abusive tribes? If Congress amends the Indian civil rights act, it is because they did not speak up before someone was killed and Congress come in."

Because it isn't happening to them and all they really care about is that the Feds don't mess with their tribes they don't really care at all about the individual people who have been harmed or will be harmed.

Anonymous said...

Excellent point. And seems to be the story of humankind throughout history. The struggle to not draw attention to yourself by remaining quiet in the hopes that it won't be done to you or cause you 'problems'; and not wanting to interfere or intrude into your neighbor's sovereign 'business'; and not knowing what the truth is to make certain you are defending the true and just side in the internal dispute; and not really knowing what the solution to the dispute might be. I have to maintain hope that the majority of People on both sides of any dispute want a Peaceful resolution, not one that can only be maintained through constant force and brutality. It may be a fantasy and delusion, but if we ourselves do not keep the hope for Peace alive, then what have we handed our children and grandchildren? The search for a Peaceful solution, however, can only be done peacefully - with all sides jointly trying to find it because the solution can only be found as a common shared solution found together. I know many of you are saying 'this guy's completely whacked and a fool full of bs', and you may be right, I don't know, but if we ourselves do not search in a peaceful way, how can we expect the other side to. This is what Maisie, her family and everyone who stood with her made very real for me by their example. There is no finish line to this struggle. Every generation will be fighting it in one form or another. Being Peaceful is not being whimpy or a victim with a capital 'V' on your forehead. It is knowing that your position is true and your are so confident in its truth that you do not need to result to violence to force it down the other side;s throat. Your methods should never contradict your goal. The ultimate goal should be for the other side to open their eyes, mind and hearts and soul and see the issue from your side - to at least see how you might see it. You are a teacher - a teacher of your views and position. What you are teaching is seen more from your actions than your words. Attacking your 'students' only forces them to raise all of their shields to block and defend themselves not only from your violence, but also from whatever it is you are trying to teach them. Again, those with little respect for others will 'flame' me and this concept (which is their choice), but I hope they will see that the ultimate goal is for a dialogue - which involves both listening and speaking - and maybe proper use of ICRA will be the vehicle for bringing all sides together for a 'talking and listening' - sorry for rambling and talking too much, but what you are fighting for does not require a solution within your lifetime - you do not need to see the results of your efforts (even though you would like to, partly because of pride in wanting to see the good that you've done and partly because you want make things better for future generations) What you are fighting for may not happen while you are here - the hope is that it happens for your children and grandchildren - the 7th generation - Leonard knows that - and lives that - every day - his Sundance 24/7 - no rounds - no breaks - no going home - he enuring it all for the Oyate - the People - not for himself - his strength gives strength to fellow dancers as well as the People - and he dances Peacefully, but amazingly powerfully - with respect to all, Don

creeper said...

Anonymus, my children are the 7th generation. You are talking about peaceful solutions. For that to happen you must have 2 sides to be willing to find peaceful solutions agreeable to both parties. If the opposite side is not interested in negotiating and continues to do you harm then you are getting nowhere. In case of MLK and the march for equality and human rights our government agreed to stop discriminating against African Americans and restore civil rights TO ALL AMERICANS.
Now, Congress gave Native Americans the Indian Civil Rights Act{the ICRA} which is not being enforced by our courts, Congress, Senate, our President or the Bureau of Indian Affairs, because in does'nt have TEETH to enforce our civil and human rights. Was this done deliberately?
Our families are torn apart and we are threatened by corrupt tribal governments. We are being TERRORIZED BY OUR OWN TRIBES.
We run to a foreign , sovereign country when they are terrorized by a corrupt leader and send our soldiers into War to a foreign country to get rid of a Tyrant.
We have gone to Wash.DC. we asked several members of Congress to address our grievences, we went to Sacramento and ask for help, we wrote letters to various high ranking politicians, wrote letters to the BIA. to Sen.Feinstein and Sen.Boxer and we where politely refered to the BIA to address our grievances. Got a lot of runaround.
The BIA refused to intervene because indian reservations are sovereign and therefore they are allowd to do as they please.
This Wrong needs to be addressed by Congress before it is to late.

creeper said...

meant to say my grand-children are the seventh generation.
Anonymus, yes you are rambling....I am peaceful until I or my family is attacked.
Then all betts are off.

Anonymous said...

I do not see Congress stepping in especially against 'casino nations'. In NY, NY US Rep Sherwood Boehlert admitted that he traded his vote on NAFTA in exchange for Pres Clinton reinstating Halbritter in power over the OIN after BIA Ada Deer had recognized Maisie and the Traditional OIN on 8/10/93 as being the sovereign Government over the OIN. Ada issued a letter on 08/11/93 directly reversing herself and resinstating Halbritter. A short time afterwards, Hilary Clinton was given NY US Sen Moynihan's seat when he died, that's how she became Sen Hilary Clinton. Still trying to see if Senator Hilary was part of the agreement made by Pres Clinton with the Colony (State) of NY politicans who were all at the casino feed trough. As we have seen throughout the 500 years of occupation, where there is money, the politicians follow. Casino money is balancing State budgets and supplementing education costs so that taxes on the State residents do not have to be increased. No US Congress person is going to close the faucet on that money and face the wrath of those who vote him/her into the cushy DC office. I like your thought process though because it is exploring alternatives and options which needs to be done. I am thankful for you thoughtful analysis and approach and for sharing it so respectfully. The Courts on the other hand, can be persuaded to apply the law (as it did in Poodry) if the right facts and arguments are presented. Everyone can try to persuade Congress because in the process, Congress, the United States and the World will be made aware of this horrible sad situation even though they may be powerless to do anything about it except frown on the disenrollers - but the disenrollers have shown themselves beyond being shamed. A history of these events will also be made for our children so they will see how we struggled for them. It is a difficult balance protecting and preserving sovereignty while at the same time trying to find an outside third party (the US gov) that either voluntarily intercedes (Congress) or is forced to intercede (the Courts finding that disenrollments violate ICRA either because they are bills of attainder and/or because they constitute 'custody' as Poodry found for banishments). Again, the courtroom is a classroom - you are teaching the court and you are teaching those who have callously abused their power to destroy families and their Nation by disenrolling People. Congress and the Courts can be pursued simultaneously. There is no 'quick fix' - it is a marathon - the only 'quick fix' is for the greed sickness to leave those who are doing the disenrolling - and that would be wonderful if that happened quickly, and we must hope that it will happen in time, and using the courts and congress as classrooms (they have to attend and listen to your 'lesson' in the courtroom). Look at Mandela's example. It is all journey, no finish line - it is how you resist oppression such as disenrollment - cause it may not last while these greedy dishonorable self centered narcissistic uncaring people are still alive and grabbing as many shiny metal pots for themselves - they too will pass from here - hopefully to be replaced by others who have compassion for others, who do not want to shove Elders, children, women aside so that they can muscle their way to the food and gorge themselves will others starve and watch or are cast out simply because they want more for themselves even though their bellies are grossly extended - it is discussions like this, exchanging views that enable to strategy to be discovered jointly - thank you for your listening and sharing. Respectfully, Don

smokeybear said...

Thanks, Don. You give us "Insight" into what appears to be "Hopeless." This, in effect, because the "Casino Indian" doesn't want to change because of their "In-sah-able Appitite" for "Greed" at the expense of those who they have "Illegally Disenrolled!" "LESS PEOPLE MORE $$$" So where is the "Common Ground?" There is none! "Because they don't have too!" With the "Government(Indian Affairs)" and the amount of $$$ that are available from these "Casinos'" for them not to act "Responsibly," why would they? You might as well say "THEIR PAID NOT TOO!" What the "Casino Indian" is doing is "Illegal" and they "Damn Well Know It," but with no one to stop them...."THAT IS CRIMINAL!"

Anonymous said...

Smokeybear, it is all about the 'frog skins' (what the Lakota called the US paper money when they first saw it because that is what it looked like) - and the trinkets - you are correct in what say. But I hope you read the other posts and comments which contain an excellent discussion whether ICRA might be used to get the US Courts to call at least call a time out stopping further disenrollments and reverse the ones already done in the hopes that those who don't mind pushing Elders, women and children face down in the mud as their step over them to get to the front of the food line and the trader's blanket spread on the ground with his metal pots and shiny trinkets might realize that disenrollments are exactly what the invaders and conqueors want us to do to each other - hopefully - for all of our children - and grandchildren - we do not do what we do to honor ourselves, but to honor our ancestors and to help the 7th generations. I do not see the ancestors who died and suffered horribly during 'manifest destiny' ever engaging in mass disenrollment - not even when the People were starving - Respectfully, Don

smokeybear said...

Don, I read the "Exchange" on the I.C.R.A and the court system that you and Erick have explained so "Elequintly," but the "Government(Indian Affairs) won't act "Responsably" in their capacity to render a "Just-ify-able" action against "Tribes" that are "Corrupt and Criminal." Without their involvement for the good of "ALL NATIVE AMERICANS," the I.C.R.A is nothing more the an "Execise in Fruitility!" The I.C.R.A spells it out, plain and simple, but without the backing of the B.I.A, the court system isn't about to do anything anytime soon. The "Casino Indians" win by "Default," with no "Intervention" by these "Government Agencies," that have the "Means and the Power," to right the wrongs that are so "Blatant" throughout "Indian Country." The "Indivigual Indian," or groups, on their own, don't have the $$$ to fight these "Corrupt and Criminal Casino Indians," but the "Latter" has all the $$$ and the backing, without question, of the B.I.A., so how can "Justice" be served? "IT CAN'T!" Your opinions are "Forthright," but unless we can "Prove" this: "Where are we?" Still on the "Outside Looking In!"