Thanks to our friends at PALA WATCH we have a letter from the DESPICABLE ROBERT SMITH seeking to correct the story in a recent article in the San Diego Reader. See the link for the REAL details of the Brittain family. Apparently, the rotund Smith isn't paying attention. br />
Attention to Detail
Determining who is and is not a member of an Indian tribe is a decision that requires meticulous attention to detail. That is why it is critical for me to correct several major inaccuracies in the June 6 cover article, “Can You Find the Big Secret in this Casino?”
Decisions regarding tribal membership are always difficult. The individuals who are disenrolled are relatives, friends, and neighbors who we have all grown up with.
As new facts are discovered about key events in the tribe’s history, there are consequences in today’s world. It is unfortunate that mistakes were made a long time ago. But those who blame other people for these mistakes are ignoring the facts. You would not perpetuate a mistake simply because everyone has become accustomed to it, and the Tribal Council has a duty to correct these mistakes.
The most important factual errors in the recent article concern Margarita Brittain, and the blood quantum to be a Pala member. Brittain was not six or seven years old in 1903; she was 46 or 47. Additionally, the blood requirement to receive a land allotment in 1913 for any Native American was 50 percent. This was determined by the federal government, not by the Pala tribe. The blood quantum to enroll as a Pala member was not even established until the 1960s.
The other critical mistake is the characterization of the relationship between disenrollments and per capita distribution. The article incorrectly asserts that because some tribal members were disenrolled that other tribal members will see increases in per capita distribution.
The Pala Tribe follows strict guidelines in the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act (IGRA) that designate the way the tribal government uses funds. It is irresponsible to suggest that this was the motivation for the Tribal Council’s actions, and only perpetuates the misstatements of those who are ignoring the truth.
Additionally, the Pala General Store was not established in 1867. There was a Pala General Store established in 1897, but it was not owned or operated by the Freeman family. The Pala store that exists today was established much later.
Also, there are nearly 1,000 members of the Pala Tribe, not 800.
There are also several statements that mischaracterize the realities of the situation. The author’s characterization of the Pala casino as a “garish” contrast to the rest of the reservation is misleading. During the past twelve years, we have made many modern improvements. We have a tribal housing program that has constructed beautiful homes for members.
We take pride in caring for our reservation, which includes maintaining our ten-year-old — not brand-new — administration complex.
We have enhanced our tribal cemetery with ornamental fencing and a veterans memorial. The Pala Mission cemetery is equally well-cared for — not overrun with wildflowers. The white picket fence described in the article does not even exist, as the cemetery is surrounded by a stone and concrete wall.
While these corrections might seem like quibbles, how can the reader trust the accuracy of the reporting when such easily verifiable details are reported so inaccurately?
Finally, as it relates to revenge threats against members of the Tribal Council, the threats are real and could easily be found if the editor had thought to verify the information. Despite the threats, no one has hired armed security guards to follow anyone around.
I only correct these details because, as I mentioned, the determination of tribal membership requires great attention to detail, and complete accuracy. Things that seem like minor mistakes have significant consequences down the road. I urge the San Diego Reader and its readers to strive for this same standard.
Chairman, Pala Band of Mission Indians
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