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Sunday, April 13, 2014
San Pasqual Band (Valley View Casino Tribe) Denies Membership Because of Moratorium
Ed Sifuentes reports of the continuing battles at San Pasqual over membership. Does their chairman Allen Lawson even HAVE San Pasqual blood?
More than 100 people who say they’ve unfairly been denied membership in the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians are planning a protest Sunday on the Valley Center reservation, challenging the tribe’s enrollment policies.
The group will be joined by some San Pasqual members who support their claim and are pushing back against the tribe’s chairman, Allen Lawson, claiming he’s not a true San Pasqual descendant.
Membership holds deep significance in Native American communities and, in some tribes, comes with huge financial perks. Members of the San Pasqual band receive nearly $10,000 a month in stipends from the tribe’s gaming revenues.
San Pasqual — which has roughly 280 members — owns and operates the Valley View Casino & Hotel, one of the largest gaming centers in San Diego County.
Huumaay Quisquis, a tribal member helping organize Sunday’s protest, said the enrollment fight isn’t about money but about identity.
“When you’re here in Indian Country, knowing who you are is all that your ancestors left you,” Quisquis said.
Still, many of the protestors are working people, barely making enough money to get by, said Alexandra McIntosh, an attorney hired by the group two years ago. Having access to tribal benefits would make a big difference in their lives, she said.
Many in the group plan to gather about 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the intersection of Canal Road and North Lake Wohlford Road for a short march to the tribal hall, where they will protest outside during the tribal council’s quarterly meeting.
McIntosh represents most of the 150 people seeking enrollment in the tribe. Known as “lineals,” they were born to San Pasqual members but have been prevented from enrolling because of questions about their blood lines or because of a moratorium enacted in 2009 on new membership and disenrollment proceedings.
Some of the lineals have been pursuing membership for years but had little access to records tracing their ancestral lines, Quiquis said. Many of them were briefly enrolled in 2005, but their membership was quickly rescinded when the tribe’s enrollment committee was disbanded and replaced by new committee members, Quisquis said.
Under San Pasqual rules, people must prove that they have at least one-eighth San Pasqual Indian blood to be enrolled. The lineals say that errors in the records have caused their blood status to be calculated incorrectly.
Joe Villalobos, 55, a San Pasqual descendant, said he has lived on the reservation most of his life, believing he didn’t qualify to be a member, even though his father was one. He has been trying to enroll for 16 years — about three years before the casino opened — after learning there was an error in calculating his bloodline.
“We believed that we weren’t supposed to be enrolled,” Villalobos said. “And it feels really degrading to have no say (in tribal affairs) and to be told, you’re just lucky to be here, you are guest on the reservation.”
McIntosh said the lineals share a common ancestor — Modesta Martinez Contreras — who was mistakenly listed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as having a lower San Pasqual blood quantum when she was actually a full blooded member of the tribe.