A press release from AIRRO in 2008, was prescient concerning the DARK SIDE of Indian Gaming. It's critical, as a new hearing into Indian gaming is upcoming, that we share the details of what is STILL happening, under the watchful and uncaring eyes of the BIA.
An epidemic has swept through Indian Country, and in its wake, it is leaving thousands of victims struggling for basic rights protections.
"The civil rights of Indian people need to be protected from and enforced against the illegal acts of tribal officials. Until such a time, thousands more Indian people will be victimized as corrupt tribal officials violate tribal and federal laws to deny or strip them of the basic rights all other United States citizens enjoy," commented John Gomez Jr. of the American Indian Rights and Resources Organization. "Tribal officials will continue to violate civil and human rights laws as long as they can escape prosecution for such actions by hiding behind tribal sovereignty."
The rights violations referred to are often characterized by the denial of due process and equal protection of laws specifically enacted to protect individuals from the "arbitrary and capricous actions" of tribal officials. In most instances, the violations have resulted in the stripping or denial of tribal citizenship of numerous individuals. The number of such reported rights violations in Indian Country has increased dramatically since the legalization and expansion of Indian Gaming.
In California alone, 20+ federally recognized tribes have stripped nearly 5,000 Indian people of their tribal citizenship since the passage of Props 5 and 1A. And thousands more have been denied their birthright as tribes close their roles in an attempt to limit the number of those who benefit from Indian Gaming. Currently San Pasqual has denied membership to true San Pasqual people, while Pechanga has maintained a moratorium, purportedly to "catch up on applications received" for nearly 15 years.
Some Indian activists have even gone so far as to call disenrollment the new Indian genocide, reminiscent of the old termination policies practiced by the United States government. Unlike before, where it was the United States Cavalry or local militias who carried out the termination polices of the government, it is now tribal officials who are responsible for the acts of genocide being carried out against Indian people. A disenrollment letter, instead of a smallpox blanket?
“It is a sad and shameful time for American Indians in this country because some tribals leaders are failing to protect the civil and human rights of their members," stated Carla Foreman-Maslin, a dis-enrolled member of the Redding Rancheria.
As a result, thousands of traditional First Nations People are now being denied adequate health care and other benefits previously provided to them as members of federally recognized tribes. Some have been denied access to their traditional gathering places and forceably evicted from the only home they have ever known. Others have been banished from their tribal lands and kept from visiting the resting place of their deceased ancestors. It's at best segregation and at worst, APARTHEID.
Call it what you will- genocide, identity theft, disenrollment. It will continue to spread throughout Indian Country as long as the basic rights of Indian people are merely words on paper like so many of the treaties signed with their ancestors.