Monday, June 1, 2015

Michelle Rodriguez: Exposing Disenrollment on College Campuses II: Telling the PERSONAL STORIES

Guest Blogger Michelle Rodriguez, disenrolled from Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians had a positive reaction to a recent post about my cousin, UVINA CAMACHO using her college classes to get the stories out about disenrollment.   Activism can be done in many places, not just a protest in front of the BIA.  Educate our family and friends, our classmates and teachers.

Right on! Keep the word lit Uvina! As tribal disenrollment is becoming more common in Indian Country and is at an epidemic level within what is politically California, our greater Indian community at large is becoming more familiar with it because they have been affected by it directly or know someone who has.

When I was a student at SFSU (2004-2008) I gave power point presentations within the classrooms of the Ethnic Studies department which is home to the American Indian Studies program and classes (BA).

I would open with: When I was in high school a few years back (before we had been disenrolled), my mother and I were on our way somewhere and began discussing in the car how this act on any Indian family was wrong, and how we couldn't believe our tribe (Picayune Chukchansi) was the next on the list to put this practice in place.
Our voices elevated as we furthered how hurt and disgusted we were in even the thought.. we got lost in our own words on the issue and forgot we had our baby of the family in the back. Only 9 years old and her voice cut through our frustration like a hot knife. Baby raised her voice in honesty and confusion."I, I just don't get it! How can we be Indian one day, and not the next?" From the mouths of babes!

This question to the class would lead to touching on the consequences and the further explanation of this identity theft as loss of birth right through paper genocide, and how this directly related to the loss of health care, the loss of education, the loss of opportunity and the loss of home, community and sense of place.

Disenrollment is self destructive insanity, and tribal suicide for those that participate in this untraditional behavior of trimming rolls, and the federal government conveniently says their hands are tied due to "tribal sovereignty."

As I say, how convenient. I felt my family's experience, although emotionally difficult to share with strangers, this difficulty was becoming the experience of so many others that we have to continue to keep talking, because no one else will do it for us, our elders, our babies and those yet to be born. It is our responsibility.

Presenting to the American Indian Studies classes I was taking gave me some clarity on how to process the emotions and thoughts surrounding this plague, and presented the perfect platform for the passing of this information to non-Indians, and Indian professor's who may also be trying to learn more.

With these presentations I found so many non-Indian students were poorly educated on Indian issues and affairs in general but were genuinely interested and unsettled, and the professor's felt they were doing a service as well to our people by providing this safe place for a 21st century Indian woman to express.

Most of those in these classes had raised their hands at least two times each after the presentation was through. Toward the completion of the presentations I wanted to tell my fellow students that this wasn't a fight without hope. I included a list of links to video, articles, and organizations that are related to tribal disenrollment to show our communities rallying against this practice, and to supplement my classmates in what they had taken away from the class if they were interested in learning more.

This issue is not going away, it will keep being talked about, it will continue to come through the halls of academia in the forums of the classroom, and the cases, papers and eventual books of lawyers, analysts and professor's, and it will be dealt with on a larger scale.
Even if the start is informing our non-Indian friends and allies to not provide state compact votes and business to disenrolling tribes, because most often this injustice is intertwined with casino revenues, this is a start. We are with hope, as the tide changes!

Share YOUR story,  Share THIS story:  GOOGLE +, Twitter and Facebook, thank you Michelle


Dayna Barrios said...

Hello everyone!

So I am a VentureƱo Chumash and am also an anthropology graduate student. I am writing my thesis on the impacts of tribal disenrollment in California. I am looking to interview people who have been disenrolled from their tribes. These stories need to be told and they need to be heard! If you are interested in telling your story please contact me at This blog is amazing and I thank you all for your words.

Dayna Barrios

nickey said...

Nice work!

White Buffalo said...

I also wrote a research paper for a social science 525 class on Native American history. I never thought to put it out there for people other than the professor to read. It is a good idea.

Anonymous said...

Tosabal.clan dear Michelle Rodriguez I liked your story I would like to take a minute to ask if it would be possible for you to comment about people that sit on illegal moratoriums you see my family has sat on Pechanga moratorium for sixteen years now I realize the trouble that many have with being stripped of their heritage but their are many that have not been given their rights to belong my family has been stripped of all our rights at one time my ancestors were the largest land owners on the rez but at this time we have been banished from our land we have been told we can not use their roads to access our land so you see I believe people that sit on moratoriums need to get their stories out to thank you from a true pechanga Indian

Anonymous said...

Mark said "We have a right to determine membership." Correct, the truth is WE ALREADY DETERMINED MEMBERSHIP, and our Ancestors were honored and respected. Now to have a faction led by Macarro et al thinking it's legal and ok to dishonor our Ancestors, determine membership on enrolled members who meet the requirements, take away all their rights and spend their share of everything the band has been allowed to participate in. Pechanga deserves to be honored with truth. Hunter family is Pechanga, no other family is more Pechanga than Paulina and her descendants. Your Ancestors knew the truth and filed oral depositions on Allotted Indians. The reservation and Casino would not be here today if the Ancestors did not record the truth. Honor them NOW!

Anonymous said...

The B.I.A. and congress said the tribe has a right to determine tribal membership based on tribal law and tribal constitution. This means the tribes can deny membership and disenroll following the criteria of tribal by laws and their constitution. Now this is were tribes like Pechanga , Pala , San Pasqaul and others have broken tribal by laws and constitution just because they are in office disenrolling who they dislike or threatens their political power. Not enrolling others but enrolling their family for votes. So if congress , senate and the B.I.A. make strong statements of tribes rights to disenroll based on tribal laws and constitution then they need to make shore that the disenrolling tribes are following their tribal laws.