Wednesday, February 17, 2016

History of Pala Disenrollment: Robert Smith Believes His Own Lies

A story told in 2012, by the LA Times on the Pala Dispute caused by Chairman Robert Smith, whose daughter was recently arrested on assault weapons charges. Thank you Tony Perry, for seeing the story is told

When Margarita Owlinguish Britten died in 1925, she was a revered elder of the Pala Indian tribe, a survivor of the forced relocation in 1903 of the Cupeño Indians to an area beside the San Luis Rey River in northern San Diego County.

But now, renewed doubts about Britten's lineage are at the root of a divisive "blood quantum" dispute roiling the 1,000-member Pala Band of Mission Indians, formed by the fusion of the Cupeño and Luiseño bands.

At issue is whether Britten was a full-blooded Indian.

The governing board of the Pala Band in the last year has "disenrolled" some 162 descendants of Britten, cutting them off from their monthly share of the tribe's profit from casino, hotel and other business ventures, about $7,500 a month, in addition to health insurance and other benefits.

The Pala dispute echoes those at other Indian tribes in California and elsewhere, where money has complicated disputes over identity, nationhood and personality conflicts, according to David Wilkins, professor of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota and a member of the Lumbee tribe in North Carolina.

"Somewhere, as tribes have tried to reconstruct their sense of nationhood, particularly in tribes with casino money, they hit upon disenrollment as a way to settle disputes over personality issues and money," Wilkins said.

The American Indian Movement estimates that upward of 3,000 tribal members from two dozen tribes in California and other states have been "disenrolled" in the last 15 years. "Tribes are being destroyed by it," Wilkins said.

Firms now offer DNA testing to prove Indian ancestry, while "disenrollment clubs" offer succor to those no longer welcome in their tribes. Angry websites collect accusations of betrayal.

Robert Smith, Pala's strong-willed chairman, is not moved by the appeals of those who have been disenrolled, nor by the dire assertions of Wilkins, nor by recommendations from Bureau of Indian Affairs officials to reverse the disenrollment decisions.

Smith said evidence shows Britten's father was a white man, not an Indian, and thus Britten and her progeny were not full-blooded Indian.

"This is not about money, this is about what's right," Smith said during an interview at the casino's food court, to the plink-plink of nearby slot machines. "I've heard all the arguments about Margarita Britten. All the old people knew: She was only half-Indian."

Britten, sometimes spelled Brittain or Britain, was among those Indian women who posed for the postcards sold to tourists. She was considered an artist in the complex skill of basket weaving. She and her husband raised seven children. Various documents say she was 65, 69 or 73 when she died.

Classifying her as half-Indian set off a recalculation of dozens of tribal members. Those found to have less than 1/16th Pala blood were removed from tribal membership.

Many of the disenrolled accuse Smith, 51, of a power grab to settle decades-old arguments with some of Britten's descendants, particularly King Freeman, the 76-year-old owner of the Pala general store and a former chairman of the tribe. They also believe Smith is trying to prop up allocations amid a recession-related decline in gaming profits by decreasing the number of recipients. In January, the monthly payments to enrolled members of the tribe were cut by $500.

"This is all about greed," said Freeman, who was tribal chairman for two decades "when we didn't have money."

After decades of a marginal existence, the Pala tribe in 2001 opened a casino and a 10-story, 507-room hotel on the tribe's reservation, 52 miles north of San Diego, six miles east of Interstate 15. The casino has 2,600 slot machines and tables for roulette, poker, baccarat and other games.

Indian tribes do not publicly disclose their profits, but the Pala operation is clearly profitable, although not as profitable as casinos that are closer to San Diego, where lawsuits and other documents say it is not unusual for payments to be twice as high as those at Pala.

The tribe also owns a motocross raceway, a gasoline station, and a mini-mart that competes with Freeman's store, established in 1897.

The issue of Britten's father has long been controversial among the tribe for reasons largely lost in the mist of undocumented tribal history. One theory among some of her descendants is that she was considered "uppity" because she married a white man and took his family name, Britten.

Freeman's daughter, Luann Freeman Moro, 56, is blunt in her anger. She was one of the first eight tribal members to be disenrolled; Smith, the current tribal chairman, is a cousin of her husband.

"It's really scary that he believes his own lies," she said of Smith. "He's an evil dictator, and everyone is afraid that he'll try to disenroll them if they talk up."

A Bureau of Indian Affairs document from the years after the 1903 relocation does not list a name for Britten's father and thus no designation of whether he was Indian or white. In the early 1950s, a document kept by the tribe was changed to show that Britten as only half-Indian; it remains unclear who made that change.

Using other documents, the bureau repeatedly ruled that Britten's father was an Indian. In the 1980s, it ruled that "the issue of Margarita Brittain's blood degree has been decided." And in February, a regional acting director of the bureau reiterated that finding and recommended reinstating Luann Freeman Moro and others.

But the bureau now leaves disenrollment disputes to the tribes. Nonetheless, the regional director's three-page letter has been a rallying point in King Freeman's store, where a copy is on display. Freeman, whose Indian lineage the tribal leadership considers to be at least 1/16, was not disenrolled.

"This is nothing less than a vendetta by Smith against families that ask questions about how the tribe is governed," said Vince Moro, 58, Luann Freeman Moro's husband. "The U.S. goes all over the world to take down dictators like Saddam Hussein and Kadafi, but they won't help us here on the reservation."

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Anonymous said...

If Robert Smith wants his Daughter to remain in Pala, then he needs to prove that he can do the right thing and re-enroll the dis-enrolled.
Other wise what good for the goose is good for the gander.

Anonymous said...

Robert is constantly trying to hurt the disenrolled over and over again even though he already took almost everything they had. He threatens the members who try to help the disenrolled, he wanted to be able to kick out disenrolled from the rez, and he did evict some, but that is why they voted the new rules in. Robert's daughter and her friends probably voted on it, so they must have felt that those rules do not apply to them. Robert tells people who they can have visit, and he has cameras set up so he can see who comes and goes, he is the biggest dictator and he thinks that the people of Pala are either so scared or so dumb that they will not stop him.

Anonymous said...

" ......he thinks that the people of Pala are either so scared or so dumb that they will not stop him."

Well..... have they stopped him.... NO!

Maybe he is right.

Anonymous said...

@12:02pm. Ha,ha,hahahahah so true. Percap made everyone weak. Back in the day I know he would never have gotten away with this bull*#+! without some knocks on his door and bottles thrown at his car. At least his fake house in Pala nobody lives in that he has workers decorate every holiday because he live's on the Rez, ya right he does! Hahah! He will be gone within 2 years by either health reasons or criminal reasons it's Nieto we have to worry about if she's not arrested with him for her financial miss dealings with the tribes money.

Anonymous said...

You have a good point. Theresa Nieto needs to be gone ASAP.
She is holing the trigger to the bomb that could explode this Tribe sky high.
Looks like the Tribe just bought her another 75,000 dollar motorhome.
Maybe she should invest in some kind of medical devise that would make her husband grow some legs to be at least 5' tall.
Or maybe she likes it by him having short legs and no balls.
She even has her grand kids enrolled in Pala.How fuck is that possible.She is from butt fuck egupt.

Anonymous said...

..." Percap made everyone weak.

Percap is the New Whiskey, We sit around in out homes getting drunk on it and do NOTHING .

Anonymous said...

Is that a fact Theresa's kids are enrolled?? That would make Theresa 1/4 unless her kids had kids with other cupeno's. I n ow for a fact Theresa is not 1/4 but then again in our ordinance the EC can ADOPT members into the tribe without the blood quantum. Then why don't they adopt the disenrolled according to the EC they have 1/32 that's the same as NIETO's grandkids. F...... Bull.... the way they run things

Anonymous said...

Yes even her oldest granddaughter who father is a white guy from Valley Center, is enrolled in Pala.
I guess it's time to bring up this at a meeting and ask for paper work..

Anonymous said...

Aren't her grandchildren part Lavato?

Anonymous said...

we need to get ciindy leal to prove she is a lavato to the tribe,a lot of talk going around that she is not a lavato.

Anonymous said...

Some of nieto's grandkids are lavato, but the one's from her daughter are not.And should not be enrolled in Pala.
The father is a Salgado.

Anonymous said...

Cindy Leal had a DNA done with one of the Lavato's and the was that she was not a Lavato.

Anonymous said...

Yes that's true. She was tested against JR Lavato according to a family member, and the test was negative for any Lavato DNA.
She is a fake that was nestled in by the white lady that lived with Mr. Lavato.
I believe her name was Andrea.
She also got caught embezzling from the Tribe about the same time that Robert Smiths mother got caught.

Anonymous said...

Everyone knows why Robert Smith disenrolled.It was because of the ill
feelings of King Freeman and Willy Pink.
The disenrolled have been on the ROLLS for over 20 years.
They have unquestionable disputed documents that prove that they belong in the Tribe.
But Robert Smith, Theresa Nieto, and Dion Perez will not except the proven facts as good enough for enrollment.
So even though the General Membership voted to accept them into the Tribe after the ASIA found that they belong back in 1989, these 3 members of the EC say no, and without a vote from the Membership they disenrolled them.
How cam they overturn a Membership vote at a meeting. Don't what the people want matter anymore.
This could happen to any of us that piss off the EC and that is wrong.
These 3 EC members are totally wrong and need to be taught a lesson.
The BIA and the courts say the it's an internal Tribal dispute so why can't we solve it like an internal Tribal dispute. Why can't we vote on putting these people back on the rolls AGAIN and let it rest.
I'll tell you why.
It's because everyone is so afraid of these low life mother fuckers on
the EC.But you do not realize that they could disenroll you and your family if they so please.
Amd it will be on you for not standing up to these evil snakes.

Anonymous said...

@ 2:45PM
You make a very strong point in your post, and you are right 100% about the EC.
As a former EC member, I know that there will be more disenrollments
coming soon so be ready to act and stop RS & TN before it's to late.
Wake up Pala.

Anonymous said... pala kicked Bernie (Trujillo ) durro,out of her home ,2/25/2016.A Pala member.She is 65 years old a sick lady.When are you people going to wake up,the E.C.of Pala is destroyiny our People we need to put this in the press,news paper.she has 60 days,to get out,this was ,Howard,and nieto.

Anonymous said...

Maybe someone could write the article and send it to OP and Palawatch and then we could share it with news stations and facebook. This makes me so mad, it is disgusting. She is an elder and this is how she is treated. Anyone that backs these monsters is just as evil.

Anonymous said...

And to top that off, when Andrew Smiths got raided RS and the EC knocked down his old house and approved building him a brand new home.
If they are not stopped and continue on this path the Reservation will no longer be.
Their goal is to destroy as many lives as possible.
AGAIN PEOPLE this is what happens when you give the EC all the say so and the power to do so.
This is a result of the latest power grab by the EC that you Members gave them. there is no due process in the Pala Tribe.
There for at the next meeting a motion needs to be made to banish Victoria Smith from the Reservation and all boundaries with in.
Bernie never got the chance to explain what happened at her house.
The cops were looking for a wanted person from Vista who was dating one of her daughters and this is the end result.
Look at Melissa Smiths house, the gang bangers from O'side are always there.
They block the roadway with their vehicles so no one can get through.
Then even stay for 2-3 days at a time in the trailer that's parked in her yard.
But I guess that doesn't matter to the EC.
Theresa Nieto knows this also because she lives next door.
But will she complain? FUCK no.
And Howard the Duck is going to do as his Godfather wants him to do.
Howard sure fooled a lot of Tribal Members when he wanted their votes to replace Leroy Miranda. He is turning out to be a real asshole, just like the rest of them.
And Bernie Trujillo is up to date on her house payment and was never late one time. She has lived on the property for over 30 years.
I say Robert Smith needs to be thrown out of office, a long with Theresa Nieto and her 1st cousins Howard Maxey and Dion Perez.

Anonymous said...

How evil is Robert, Howard and Nieto to do this to a 65 year old Tribal Elder in bad health. Making her homeless on her own Reservation.

Anonymous said...

There is no due process on the Pala Reservation. Every thing is controlled by 5 people.
Even in the near by cities there is an eviction process to follow for evictions, but not in Pala.
The BIA is to chicken shit to stand up to the Pala EC and Smith.
They would say, it's another intertribal dispute, and refuse to get involved.
The BIA needs to hire some people with balls to help these people that are being abused by the Tribal Leaders.

Anonymous said...

I really hope that the FBI takes over the case of the weapons charges against Victoria s..
They would be tried in the Federal Court system instead of the State Courts.
And with all the mass shootings that have happened I sure that they would do some time in Federal Prison.
Just what the Doctor ordered. DON'T DO THE CRIME, IF YOU CAN'T DO THE TIME.

Anonymous said...

I believe that this is the 4th home taken from a Descendent of MB.
I think that one of Pete's Daughters was kicked out of her home on Morro rd with a 3 day notice with her 4 year old daughter. She was threatened to have security remove her if she did not "OBEY" the order.
Another documented certified cupeno Indian made homeless on her own Reservation.
Has anyone noticed that after a power grab by the EC is given by the Membership, something like this happens.
We have no due process here. We either due as the EC wants or all the Family Members will suffer.
When is this going to end? When someone gets hurt or worse?
Where are all the real Native people who can stop this bullshit, hiding behind Per Capita.

Anonymous said...

Nieto and H. Maxcey have become just as EVIL as Smith down in Pala.
What's next another name change, like maybe Smithville Reservation.
I wonder if RS will give up his $5,000.00 cut that he gets from the Contractor who built this home a couple of years ago.

Reinstatement_Restitution said...

There is no tribal law against harboring a suspected criminal. People are innocent until proven guilty, That is unless Robert Smith has an ax to grind...

Anonymous said...

I think bird was kicked out of his home also,on morro road.

Anonymous said...

If the EC in Pala was smart, they will reconsider this eviction of Bernie Trujillo Duro. If they don't this will not rest until all options are used. The BIA has been contacted by an Attorney and a number of complaints have been filed with different agency's.
The exposer of the EC is getting much needed attention.
According to the Sheriff's report and the FBI report, there are NO
statements in either report that would call for an eviction.
There is no statements stating that Heroin was being sold at this residents. As soon as I receive the statements I will have them posted so everyone can see the real facts and not just rumors.

Anonymous said...

Why doesnt all interested parties just handle it what you all afraid of dude and his family aint shit

Anonymous said...