Thursday, February 28, 2013

HOUSE Passes Violence Against Women ACT

After over a year of legislative limbo, the House passed a reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) Thursday, ending  partisan bickering that has plagued the bill since it expired in September of 2011.

The final legislation passed the lower chamber by a vote of 286 to 138 after a protracted battle over an expansion of the law and its impact in tribal communities.  A majority of Republicans voted against the legislation, with 87 GOP members and all Democrats supporting it.

Republican leaders first tried to pass a House-drafted version of the bill, which Democrats said did not do enough to protect gay couples, immigrants and Native Americans. That measure failed by a vote of 166 to 257.

The House then passed the same five-year reauthorization that was approved by Senate by an overwhelming majority in February.

The reauthorization of the law -– first sponsored by then-Sen. Joe Biden in 1994 –- had languished for months as the Democratic-led Senate and the Republican-led House wrangled over details of the legislation.
House Republicans objected to the Senate’s version of the bill because of what they called a constitutional issue surrounding the prosecution of non-Indian criminals on tribal lands. GOP lawmakers failed to insert language that would have allowed tribal authorities to prosecute non-Indians under federal guidelines, and give those criminals the ability to appeal to federal courts.

Fresno State to Hold Discussion on Tribal Disenrollment at Chukchansi

Dr. Kenneth Hansen will be leading a discussion on the corruption at the Picayune Rancheria of Chuckchansi Indians

Join us for a discussion about tribal corruption and disenrollment at Fresno State on Thurs,

Feb 28, from 6:00-8:00 pm, in Peters' Building 191.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013


The FRESNO BEE's Marc Benjamin has the story

Law officers were on alert Tuesday night at the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians offices, where factions were in a stand-off over tribal leadership, Madera County Sheriff John Anderson said.
There were 25 law enforcement officers at the tribe's business compound as a precaution Tuesday night in case problems arose, he said.
Officers were alerted to the possibility of violence because a group that is calling itself the new tribal council has taken over one of the buildings. The group went into the tribal building Saturday morning and has been allowed to come and go by the other group claiming to be in charge.
"I don't know how long we are going to be here," said Erica Stuart, Madera County sheriff's spokeswoman. "There will not be a repeat of last year. One way or another they are going to have to work out their differences and they have to do it peacefully."
Law officers from sheriff's departments in Madera and Fresno counties, the Madera and Fresno police departments and the California Highway Patrol were waiting along Road 417 in case any problems surfaced.

Read more here:


Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscars SNUB Russell Means, Native Actor in Memorium Segment

Conspicuously absent from tonight's broadcast of the OSCARS, in memorium segment was Native American Actor Russell Means, whose filmography includes: Last of the Mohicans, Natural Born Killers and Pocahontas was snubbed. He has championed the rights of indigenous peoples in other countries as well as the U.S. In a televised speech to the 2000 Libertarian Party National Convention, Means said that he prefers the label "Indian" to the more politically-correct "Native American". "Everyone who is born in America is a native American", he said. Another actress of color snubbed: Lupe Ontiveros, Emmy nominated and wonderful actress.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chukchansi Tribe at WAR again..

The Fresno Bee's Marc Benjamin continues to tell the said saga of the corruption at the Picayune Rancheria.
Is it time to initiate a BOYCOTT of their casino?
Another power struggle has erupted at the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians after a group of the tribe's original descendants took over a business meeting Thursday night.

Now, like last year, two factions claim they are in charge of the tribal government.

Tribal chairwoman Nancy Ayala, a descendant of the Wyatt family of original tribal members, announced a new board was taking over after she was handed a referendum signed by about a dozen descendants of the original rancheria landholders that demanded the replacement of the tribal council.

She ordered vice chairman Reggie Lewis and council members Chance Alberta and Carl Bushman off the board. A fourth member had recently resigned. Two other members were previously suspended.

Then Ayala named six members from her family and the Ramirez family -- the other "lineal descendants" -- to the board.

"It was an orderly transition that followed the constitution," said Roger Salazar, who represents Ayala's group after last year serving as a spokesman for the Lewis group. "The chairwoman was given a petition and under the constitution she had to act upon it."

The tribal constitution requires that a new council be seated once a referendum is signed by 30% of the tribe's voting members. The referendum Ayala received was signed by 30% of the voting members of the tribe's lineal descendants, the "noncontested enrolled members" of the tribe, Salazar said.

But the move was unconstitutional, said Richard Verri, an Arizona lawyer who represents the Lewis group, which contends it is the rightful tribal council.

He said the tribe has 800 qualified voters and that 30% of those voters must sign a referendum to impanel a new board.

Verri said the Ramirez/Wyatt referendum had 14 signatures, which represents about 30% of the two families' voters. He called the move a "coup d'état" and an attempt to reduce the tribe to the 46 members of the two families.

Such reductions have occurred regularly in recent years. Large-scale disenrollments began a few years after the 2003 opening of the Chukchansi casino.

Before the casino, the tribe built up membership to obtain additional federal money. After records were destroyed in the 1990s, the tribe's enrollment committee decided that all members previously certified to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs were valid members.

But the tribal council then decided that all members would have to provide documentation from a checklist or be disenrolled. Over the past decade, hundreds of people have lost their tribal membership.

Thursday's tribal council takeover was short-lived. Verri said Lewis' group controls the security team, which removed Ayala's faction from the business meeting. They went to another tribal building and stayed there for several hours before leaving.

Thursday night, Lewis and his group secured the tribe's financial records and suspended Ayala from the board.

Meanwhile, Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino continues to operate normally, Verri said.

Madera County Sheriff John Anderson met Friday with both groups away from the casino and business buildings. He said they promised there would be no violence -- which marked last year's dispute.

Anderson was told that both factions sent petitions to the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs. A call to the BIA office in Sacramento was not returned Friday.

The power struggle has been brewing for some time and picked up steam after members of a third group that won election in December 2011 were prohibited from taking over the council by Lewis' group, which included Ayala.

Read more here at the FRESNO BEE For more on tribal disenrollments in CA, we have stories at the links below:

KNBC’s Without A Tribe

Redding Rancheria

Friday, February 22, 2013

Dry Creek Rancheria Elections Saturday After Disenrollment of Opposition to Harvey Hopkins

Dry Creek Rancheria elections, postponed more than three months because of questions over the legitimacy of two candidates, are set for Saturday.   VOTE FOR MARINA NOJIMA

At stake is the leadership of the Pomo tribe that runs River Rock, Sonoma County's first Indian casino, and whether longtime chairman Harvey Hopkins will be re-elected to a fifth two-year term.

The election comes at a critical juncture for the approximate 1,100-member Geyserville tribe, which will see its 10-year county monopoly on Las Vegas-style gambling end when another Indian casino next to Rohnert Park opens later this year.

Marina Nojima, who is running for tribal chairperson against Hopkins, reportedly voted against the disenrollments.  She previously said it feels like the tribe is being broken apart. Nojima said that she hopes the tribe clears up ambiguity over membership in its “Articles of Association” so that its not just board or committee members saying “It's this way.”

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Despicable Tracey Avila, Robinson Rancheria Tribal Chair Accused of THEFT May have Trial Delayed

The theft trial of the Robinson Rancheria Pomo Indians tribal chair, set to begin next week, appears to be heading for a delay because of the defendant's health.   OP: She was perfectly healthly enough to OVERSEE some evictions last month.

Tracey I. Avila was at the Lake County Courthouse Tuesday afternoon for pretrial matters when her attorney, R. Justin Petersen, told a judge Avila's doctors diagnosed her with kidney failure earlier this month.

As a result, Petersen plans to file a motion asking for a continuance of the trial, which is scheduled to begin Feb. 27.

Avila, 51, of Nice pleaded not guilty to one count of grand theft.

Authorities allege she stole tens of thousands of dollars from the Elem Indian Colony of Pomo Indians and the federal government while serving as that tribe's fiscal officer between February 2006 and September 2008.

Avila, who was arrested in September 2011, was ordered to stand trial following a preliminary hearing last October. Her subsequent arraignment was delayed while she recovered from a partial foot amputation.

Upon learning of Avila's latest medical issue Tuesday, Judge Richard C. Martin ordered Petersen to file a written continuance motion by Wednesday in advance of a hearing set for Friday.

Martin indicated he planned to make sure the trial would not get postponed for an unnecessary amount of time, pointing out that Avila's case was "substantially older than most of the cases coming through here."

"I've seen homicide cases quicker than this," the judge added.   OP:  This is a case of Justice delayed, Justice Denied.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Can Rincon Deal Allow Other Tribes To Challenge Their Compacts?

REMEMBER all the promises that if we expanded Indian Gaming that our budgets would be balanced?   LIE    REMEMBER when the tribes said they'd take care of their people?  LIE  
If tribes want to renegotiate, SHUT DOWN THE CASINO until negotiations are ended. 

San Diego County’s Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians this month became the first California tribe to get a casino agreement through the federal courts.The deal came after the tribe recently won a years-long legal fight against the state over demands for revenue sharing in exchange for permission to expand.

Whether other tribes try to take the same legal path is the big unknown. Several hundred million dollars in tribal revenue-sharing payments to the state general fund are in play.
“Can they get the same kind of agreement that Rincon has been able to achieve? The answer is maybe,” said Rincon lawyer Scott Crowell.
Added George Forman, an attorney for the Morongo Band of Mission Indians near Banning: “We’re all asking ourselves that same question.”
The Rincon band sued California in 2004 after the Schwarzenegger administration demanded that the tribe agree to pay millions to the state’s general fund in return for permission to add 900 slot machines to its casino, Harrah’s Rincon Casino and Resort.
Lower courts sided with the tribe’s position that the general fund payments are an illegal tax and the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene in 2011. That triggered more negotiations with the state.
The two sides failed to reach an agreement. In 2012, a mediator presented the tribe’s proposed compact to the U.S Department of the Interior. Earlier this month, the department issued “secretarial procedures” that imposes the deal on the state.
Under the procedures, the Rincon tribe will pay into special state accounts meant to pay for gambling regulators and assist poor tribes that have little or no gaming. The tribe also is negotiating with San Diego County on setting up a local casino mitigation fund. But the tribe will not pay into the state’s general fund.
California voters authorized gambling on tribal land in 2000. Those deals did not require payments to the general fund, the source of money for most state services.
After taking office in 2003, though, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger insisted on general-fund payments as part of new or renegotiated deals with several tribes, including major agreements in 2004 and 2006.
The latter tribes included the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians near Temecula, the Morongo band, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians near San Bernardino, and the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in the Coachella Valley.
In 2011-12, the state received $369 million in tribal revenue-sharing payments for the general fund. It will receive an estimated $337 million in 2012-13 and 2013-14; the decline reflects a temporary stop to payments from two financially struggling tribes.   OP:  HOW can we balance our budget when gambling revenues are SHRINKING??
Under a post-Rincon legal scenario, tribes making general fund payments to the state could seek to reduce or end the payments. If the state refused, a tribe could file a lawsuit that presumably would end the same way as the Rincon case.   OP:  Lawsuit?  Okay, then no gaming until it's settled.
The Brown administration believes that the Rincon case applies only to future casino deals, not previous ones that all sides had agreed to, spokesman Evan Westrup said.
It was unclear last week if any tribes have expressed an interest in re-opening their agreements in light of the Rincon deal. Representatives of Inland tribes did not respond to requests for comment and the governor’s office declined to comment.
Crowell, the Rincon attorney, said it is unknown how courts would view an attempt to change an existing compact.
“The tribes agreed to the tax rates that the Schwarzenegger administration demanded,” he said.
A legal fight could have implications beyond the courtroom.
Any attempts to reduce tribes’ revenue-sharing payments to the state could make California voters more receptive to proposals to end tribes’ monopoly on Las Vegas-style games.
“I have heard tribes mention that perhaps the Rincon path might be the route they choose to strike a better deal,” said David Quintana, a Sacramento lobbyist whose clients include tribes with casinos.
“While it is good in the short run, in the long run it might be opening a Pandora’s box for other people to get into the gaming world,” he said.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Jerry Buss, Laker's Owner Dead at 80. Team Practiced at Reservation Where Apartheid Practiced

Jerry Buss, longtime owner of the L.A. Lakers, died Monday at the age of 80.

“Remember, he showed us it was about ‘Showtime,’ the notion that an arena can become the focal point for not just basketball, but entertainment. He made it the place to see and be seen.”

The Laker's have held practices at the Pechanga Reservation, which is well know for practicing Apartheid and violating the civil rights of it's people.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Rincon Tribe Gets Fed Approval of Gambling Authorization: Schwarzenegger's Folly

California’s practice of pressuring Indian tribes to share casino profits in exchange for approval of slot machines has been hit with a setback.

The Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians has received approval of its gambling authorization from the federal government, reducing the amount it must pay the state, which has traditionally negotiated gaming compacts and demanded a large share of profits.

Rincon had sued then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the state for “illegal taxation” and “bad faith” in renegotiations for a gaming compact in which the tribe was asked to share profits in exchange for the state approving 900 new slot machines for its Harrah’s Rincon Casino and Resort in San Diego County.

Rincon Chairman Bo Mazzetti said getting approval from the federal government protects tribal sovereignty and limits the power of the state to ask for revenue.

 “The federal definition of the goal of Indian gaming is to generate revenues to fund tribal government responsibilities and obligations to provide jobs, healthcare, social and safety services for tribal members, not to pad or fix a state’s budget,” Mazzetti said.

Representatives of Gov. Jerry Brown's office did not return calls for comment.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Can a Scumbag Like Pala Chairman Robert Smith Be Considered "Honorable"?

Robert Smith, Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians is a scumbag.  Yet in a recent press release by the California Tribal Business Alliance:

Gov. Christie got it right – again.  It makes no sense for New Jersey to create a law that would potentially undermine business and tribal interests throughout the country, while not providing New Jersey, and specifically Atlantic City, the business advantage the bill sought to impart,” said the Honorable Robert Smith, Chairman of the California Tribal Business Alliance.  “CTBA is working to develop legislation that will impose strong controls, mandate disclosures, and promote the highest standards of integrity in the gaming industry.  Online gaming is a slippery slope, and putting at risk a multi-million dollar industry, the associated jobs, and the revenue interests to impacted states, without safeguards, is a gamble no one should be willing to take.”

The Honorable Robert Smith is Chair of the Pala Band of Mission Indians and Chairman of the California Tribal Business Alliance

Are you freaking kidding?  Smith has overseen the destruction of many of Pala's families.   Check out  for more.

Check these links:

  Pala Dispute

  Pala disenrolled 162 members

Friday, February 8, 2013

Open Letter to Interior Secretary Candidate Sally Jewell

Re: Internal tribal disputes and individual Indians’ rights

Dear Sallie Jewell

It has come to my attention that you are the candidate being considered by President Obama for the Cabinet position of Secretary of the Interior. I congratulate you on your consideration for such an important position.

As you know, the Secretary of the Interior plays in important role in Indian Country, and I felt it was important to ask you where you stand on several important and timely issues affecting Indian Country.

A 2008 report by the Government Accountability Office (“GAO”) referenced the fact that internal tribal disputes “seem to be occurring more and more frequently”. Such disputes have resulted in the disenrollment, banishment, denial of membership, stripping of voting rights, and/or denial of health/medical benefits of thousands of Indians.

In response to the growing number of these types of disputes, the GAO felt it was necessary and appropriate that nominees to the Secretary of Interior be asked how they would address such issues. While the question posed in the GAO report asks about a nominee’s personal experience working with tribal leadership in trying to resolve or prevent such disputes, I believe it is also important to know how you have or would work with individual Indians in trying to resolve or prevent such disputes.

Therefore, I would like to know where you stand and what you believe your role as Secretary would be regarding (1) internal tribal disputes and (2) the protection and preservation of individual Indians’ basic rights in internal disputes. In addition, do you believe that tribal sovereignty and the protection of basic individual rights are mutually exclusive of each other?

I eagerly await your response to the questions raised above.

Respectfully submitted,

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Pre-Trial Issues Delayed in Robinson Rancheria's Tribal Chair Tracy Avila (Grand Theft)

A judge Monday delayed pretrial matters in the theft case against the Robinson Rancheria Pomo Indians tribal chair.

Tracey I. Avila faces one felony count of grand theft for allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars from the Elem Indian colony and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency while serving as that tribe's fiscal officer between February 2006 and September 2008.

Avila, 51, of Nice pleaded not guilty to the charge.

She appeared before Judge Richard C. Martin Monday afternoon for settlement and trial-readiness conferences, but the matters were postponed while the two sides hash out discovery issues, deputy district attorney Rachel Abelson said.

The hearings were rescheduled for Feb. 19 at the Lake County Courthouse. Avila's Feb. 27 trial date remains intact.