It’s been a decade since Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro asked the People of California to help Native Americans in their quest for self-reliance. I believe that most people took self-reliance to mean that Native Americans would help take care of their own people with the proceeds of Indian Gambling. This is the messaging of every public relations campaign during every California referendum on Indian Gaming, Each time the leaders of Pechanga were the face of the California Native community. Behind the scenes, however plans were already being made to strip families of their inherent rights as Temecula people and long-standing members to share in the fruits of gaming.
Unfortunately, then, self-reliance to Pechanga means keeping rightful people from joining the band and removing people via a process benignly called "disenrollment" who don’t think the way the leadership wants them to think, so there will be no dissent among the membership. The Council’s policy is cash your check and shut the hell up. Democrats, think what would happen if the Republicans could keep 25% of you from voting for your choice of leadership. Do you think your choice would win? Republicans, what would you think if the Democrats or even a civil rights group like the NAACP accepted readily this type of behavior? (Well I guess the NAACP did, as their head Alice Huffman took Pechanga's money...)
Pechanga’s Constitution and Bylaws provides for OPEN ENROLLMENT each January, yet in 1997 the band approved a petition, which called for a moratorium on member enrollment so that the tribe can get caught up with the applications. There are 10 members on that committee, how long could it take to catch up? The will of the people was the rule of law in an enrollment matter, upheld by the tribal council. There has been no "catching up", in fact people who have a right to be in their tribe, just as their cousins are have been kept out for two decades, a paper shuffle that people like Frances Miranda kept going so they couldn't be on their land as members.
When the people passed a valid petition to halt all disenrollments in 2005, the tribal council maintained that the petition couldn’t be enforced, because the general council had no authority in enrollment matters. When in fact, Pechanga Chairman Mark Macarro knew full well that the general membership of the tribe has the final word. Let’s get this right, the general council says the people could keep people OUT, but they can’t keep people IN?
So, we have the Pechanga Tribal Council acting in a shameful manner by eliminating 25% of their citizenry. They stripped this group of their status as Native Americans, and grabbed their share of per capita payments to grow their own. Many people don't understand per capita, but they do/should understand that if we get rid of 135 people, making $17,000 per month, it adds up to $2.3 Million per month, they can split between the remaining people. They keep rightful members from their place at Pechanga via disenrollment and moratorium and abused the elders and children of two families, terminating their cultural heritage. With the subsequent disenrollment of the Hunter family, there is an additional $2.1 million to divvy up. This is in per capita only, it doesn't include the college scholarship which could easily be worth $25,000 per year.
In direct contradiction to these reprehensible actions, Pechanga donates to groups like the Boys and Girls Clubs, The Temecula Valley School District, and other organizations, which gladly take generous donations from the tribal government. Of course, remember now that Pechanga had an additional $5.3 million to share PER MONTH. A yearly donation of $25k here and there wouldn't make a dent in that.
Would these groups accept these donations if they knew what Pechanga had done to their own people?
Pechanga used those donations to trumpet how they were generous to the community, and good neighbors. Yet, I can’t believe that the organizations mentioned above would believe it’s okay to screw someone, let some people die knowing their heritage was stripped, so that they can have a new swing set on their playgrounds? I really don’t believe they would have endorsed Pechanga in the last elections if they knew what was really happening on the reservation in their own neighborhood. Which makes us wonder why we haven't heard much about this. Recently the Sycuan Tribe (80 adults) renamed the San Diego sports arena. Not mentioned was that CA lost a lot of money when Sycuan got expanded gaming, yet hadn't approved it with their people. Brings us to another point: Sycuan =80 adults Pechanga eliminated 225 adults, almost three times an entire tribe. That number would be more than San Manuel has too. PERSPECTIVE is everything.
If Wal-Mart is so bad for not providing health coverage for all of their associates, (they have 53% participation) which bring protests for each new store, why isn’t the same outrage aimed at Pechanga, who not only took away per capita, but health coverage, education assistance, employment and elder care for the citizens they kicked to the curb?
What Pechanga is doing is the epitome of hypocrisy. They are hiding their ‘dirty family secret’ behind a veil of sovereignty, and then publicizing their good deeds to local charities to show what honorable people they are. Don’t allow them to get away with it. It is time the people of this community learn the truth.
Please spread the word and if you must patronize an Indian Gaming facility, it is time to go elsewhere. Let Mark Macarro know that you DO NOT support his actions. At the same time, let Democrat senator Dianne Feinstein know that you do not support her efforts to work at the behest of large gaming tribes.