Here's the next one, from a former council member and chair of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians. Their disenrollment was reported HERE and Here Sandra Sigala is a former chairwoman for the tribe.
My name is Sandra Sigala, I come here today to share me and my family’s story about disenrollment that came to pass in March of this year 2016.
I am a Disenrolled tribal member from the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians. My family and I were wrongfully disenrolled by the Hopland Tribal Council on January 15th this year, later it was finalized by a special General Council meeting on March 19 this year.
|Sandra Sigala being escorted by armed tribal security|
Chris Pugh-Ukiah Daily Journal photo.
I have been a recognized tribal member since 1989 with the tribe. Later on I was recruited in and voted to hold a seat on the tribal council governing board that led to holding several years of tribal council positions from member at large, to treasurer and finally tribal chairperson from 1992 thru 2004. This was before the start up of Gaming with our tribe. I worked with the Tribal Council at that time to bring Gaming to our tribe. In 1997 as Tribal Chairperson, I gave testimony at the Senate and Congressional levels in Washington DC and Sacramento to get their support for economic development – gaming for tribes on the California Ballot. I worked endless hours to get the California voters to vote Yes for Indian Gaming.
I held position as Tribal Chair with the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians, 1997 thru 2004 and I take great pride in building the tribe’s economic development and building structures on our tribal land during my leadership.
Later in 2014 tribal members asked me to come back to the Tribal Council as they felt a need to have someone who had tribal experience and integrity. I was voted in by 101 Membership votes, first candidate in history of our tribe to receive that number of votes, I took seat as a member at large in October 2014. In August 2015 I was appointed as Tribal Secretary.
Unfortunately on January 15, 2016 a Special Tribal Council meeting was called by the Tribal Chairwoman; at that Tribal Council meeting a vote to Disenroll me and 74+ of my family members including my deceased accessorial family, my mother, my grandma, my great grandmother and great great grandmother and grandfathers and was passed by the Tribal Council. The Tribal Chairwoman, who verbally incriminated my ancestors, who no longer walk this land and eliminated them from their inherent aboriginal birth right place – Hopland reservation. We are one of the 5 aboriginal racial Hopland families; we were able to prove our lineage back to 1860 or so.
The Disenrollment occurred because the current Tribal Council did not want individuals to hold a seat on Council who would deter their personal decisions and their plan for the tribe as new Council would ruin their plans by voting against their ideas, this would take away their political controlled votes. Hopland has had a very corrupt Tribal Council since 2008.
This Tribal Council excludes tribal input as they make their personal decisions based on their own personal needs amongst 4 of them. 2 tribal members who decided to run for 2 of the 3 vacant seats on the Tribal Council governing board in March this year. One of these tribal members was previously employed for 15 years as Gaming Commissioner at the Hopland Casino. The other tribal member served as Tribal Council Chairman and then stepped down to work at the Casino as a CFO and later as a General Manager, also roughly 15 years of tribal experience. These were 2 tribal members who have college education and degrees, both BA’s and Master degrees. They both served the tribe before the current council came into office in 2008.
Hopland’s current Tribal Council is corrupt as they continue to lie to tribal members while making promises to those who live on the reservation to win their trust and votes by giving them employment and paying excessive wages when they have no experience in the various fields of job openings. Unfortunately many naïve tribal members do not see outside the box of this Tribal Councils’ greed, hate, vendetta, and corruption.
Disenrollment kills our native people in our communities and our future – yes this is genocide returning from the history of our native people from the United States history of massacre. Our ancestors had fought against and for our people and our lands. Disenrollment is not sovereignty as Hopland’s Tribal Council uses the term sovereignty for personal leadership decisions as they ignore our Civil Rights, as well as our documented historical heritage managed and documented by the Bureau of Indian Affairs historical files.
Disenrollment is a political motive forced on tribal members/citizens from our tribal councils – the governing boards to the tribes. Hopland’s tribe expresses the importance of education, well this council applied their college degrees to enforce the colonial history of destruction, the white man’s history of slaughter, slavery, and sales of women of our native people this is what this current council supports, as they support family pedophiles and continue to turn their back and continue to steel the assets of the economic development for the tribe. They are a corrupt group who runs the tribe. They operate out of greed, hate, and vendetta all for self-gain. This Tribal Council does NOT read the Tribal Constitution or Tribal Laws, they say they don’t have to, and they can take any action they want because they say, “because they can” because they are sovereign.
Again Disenrollment is not sovereignty, Disenrollment is Genocide.
Our ancestral birthrights ARE of Hopland reservation, but we were not allowed Due Process during the Appeal Process, as Our Civil Rights were ignored. We were NOT allowed to participate in a debate at a general council meeting; we were given 3 minutes to state our case and remove ourselves from the premises immediately.
A recorded tape of the Disenrollment meeting of March 12th clearly states FRAUD and illegal Election of voters. The Hopland Tribal Election Ordinance was not followed throughout the process and the Election Committee who were ALL present, allowed for committed fraud. The General Membership Quorum was met by 188 attended members, but they pulled 198 votes – interesting that does not add up! 2 Voting Stations were set up inside the meeting hall, and some members voted two times at 2 different voting stations. Non Registered members were allowed to walk-in, register to vote, and then immediately mark a ballot to vote a Yes for the Disenrollment, and then left the premises. They did not even wait to hear our case. Again these members were pre-paid cash so they would vote Yes on the Disenrollment. Members were driven in from nearby states by use of tribal vehicles and airplane trips paid by tribal monies - Payment was out of Tribal Funds.
At the end of our Appeal Hearing to the General Council, the Tribal Chairwoman IYESHA MILLER continued to lead this meeting after we left the premises. Chairwoman voiced her personal opinion stating false acquisitions of my ancestral deceased family stating we are not “Racially” Hopland Indians. She presented to the general membership incomplete and false documents that were not correct 1850’s to 1960’s era of Hopland tribe. Sadly these young tribal members believed in her lies as they really don’t know the tribe’s history; she did not allow members to speak, they were told they would be removed from the meeting if they did not listen to her. Many Tribal members were asking to allow the Disenrollees full equal rights to be present during a discussion of Our Disenrollment. Their voices were ignored and instead members were told if they did not settle down and stop asking questions, they would be removed from the floor by the Tribal Police and banned from the premises for a timeframe. Full DICTATORSHIP at the Hopland Tribal Council.
Our Civil Rights were stripped as the procedure of our Tribal Appeal was wrongfully, falsely and illegally processed. I as an x-Tribal Council Member at Large and Secretary to the Tribal Council, know for a fact that the Tribe had no documented procedures to the processes of a Disenrollment Appeal.
The Chairwoman and her 3 other Council cohorts concurrently created and approve in incremental special council meetings to pass language of the process of Disenrollment after the January 15th mtg. This process occurred throughout the preparation of our family’s Disenrollment process, a post-facto concern.
The Tribe’s Constitution does not give the Right to the Tribal Council to immediately Disenroll that right is by the vote of the people – the general council. Again, we were Disenrolled in January 2016 by the Tribal Council and ALL of our rights were stripped immediately, and then on March 12 the General Membership Voted to Disenroll.
Our family understood as we were told that the Tribal Council would give copies of all the information my family of 74+ provided to justify our enrollment to the General Membership, yet the General Council DID NOT provided copies of any information, therefore the Disenrollment moved forward by use of Chairwoman’s lies and false and incomplete information of my family as she gave her speech to the General Membership .
The vote of Yes on Disenrollment was so wrong, my family is one of the 5 aboriginal tribal families from Hopland dating back to late 1800’s proof of historical documentation were shown, yet everything we presented meant nothing, as general council members were paid off by the Chairwoman if they voted a Yes for Disenrollment.
The membership was lied to and our Civil Rights were ignored and disregarded by the Tribal Council Chairwoman.
Our rights as individuals to receive equal treatment and to be free from unfair treatment “discrimination” in a number of settings – including education, employment, housing and more. Me and my family have been racially discriminated because Hopland’s current Tribal Government opposes certain person or family member or me, so they take action to Disenroll including my family ancestors who have passed on.
Tribal Councils do not own the birth rights of our native historical ancestors, it is not their right to terminate, remove or erase and destroy the native accessorial tribal history of our people. Disenrollment is hateful and despicable, and is genocide.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs have many departmental services. The BIA mission is to enhance the quality of life of American Indians and Alaska Natives. One Department, the Office of Indian Services and their mission is to facilitate support for Tribal People and the tribal governments by promoting safe and quality living environments, strong communities, self-sufficient and individual rights, while enhancing protection of the lives, prosperity, and well-being of American Indian and Alaska Natives.
Unfortunately, here in Sacramento at BIA Central Cal, Mr. Troy Burdick received a few phone calls from my family members requesting for his help, yet he told my family this was a tribal government issue and there was nothing he could do and that his hands were tied. He also said his department could not attend the Disenrollment Appeal with the General Council as “The Tribal Council” had not requested BIA support to attend. As I stated, Troy Burdick obviously does not understand the Mission of the BIA, as stated the BIA IS to facilitate support for Tribal People and Individual rights including Tribal Governments. Obviously this was not the case with Troy Burdick.
I was also in contact with Ms. Amy Dutschke from Pacific Region and she passed on some information to me that I was requesting, however she held back critical information regarding my grandmother’s land in Hopland and never to this day has she provided me documentation which was much needed for our Disenrollment Appeal process.
The BIA has a trust obligation to serve both the tribal members not just the Tribal Councils. If they were present for our Appeal they could have stopped the ignoring of our Civil Rights from the Hopland Tribal Council along with the fraudulent Election process.
This office also honors tribal sovereignty by supporting Self-Determination while upholding their fiduciary responsibility, However, interesting in that they do not assist when tribal sovereignty is being abused by the tribal governments. They just throw their hands up and say the BIA cannot help. They have a responsibility to all native people not just the Tribal Governments. The United States Budget allows for a several billion dollars of funding and is recommended for adoption to the many areas in tribal government including funding the BIA Federal entity here in Sacramento. If the BIA does not want to help American Indian people, then they should not be working for American Indian people. Congress needs to be addressed on these issues as Congress approves the federal budgets and should know the useless assistance we have with the BIA agents here in Sacramento.
Also, under the trust relationship and based on the Indian Treaties history, the United States has assumed the responsibility for American Indians to access education, health, welfare and other social service programs available to all tribal citizens, if eligible as a recognized tribal member and Not just the Tribal governments. As a Disenrollee these needs are stripped from me and my family.
Despite the disruption to tribes from past policies, especially assimilation and termination, native people must be able to prove their affiliation with their tribe in order to benefit for these assisted programs as Recognized Tribal Member. Tribes continue to Disenroll for their own selfish reasons which eventually result in “statistical genocide” or elimination. Congress needs to be informed about the corruption occurring in tribal nations and the tribal governments.
The Office of Indian Services is the Division to guide programs for Tribal enrollment activities, including enrollment appeals and tribal organic documents, including assistance to the tribal membership rolls. They did not even question the removal of those being disenrolled.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) essentially has two major responsibilities: protecting Indian legal rights and providing services to Native American Indians. The legal basis for federal authority rests on the power of Congress "To regulate Commerce with … the Indian tribes" and federal laws, treaties, and judicial decisions.
No due process – Civil Rights were violated. Disenrollees vs. Tribal Constitutions and no valid Tribal Court, Hopland’s Tribal Court is currently inactive but interestingly enough the current Tribal Council is abusing a court grant for their own usage. Tribal Councils have abused their leadership powers by terminating tribal law documents for their own self gain in several areas within the tribe.
For many tribes, the Bureau has represented mistrust, fraud, and cultural destruction; for the national government it has represented both the goal of fair dealing and the reality of mistreatment. In my family’s case this was the situation, of not working fairly with my membership and my family’s historical rights to Hopland Tribe.
The tribal government has assigned me as well as my ancestral family members a federal number and yet the Hopland Tribal Government refuses to accept this including the history of my ancestral family.
The Hopland Band of Pomo Indians membership requirement states: According to the tribes Constitution, if proved to be of “lineal descendent from the 1961 Distribution Plan”, we should be admitted to the tribe. There is no language in the Tribal Government laws that brings forward proof of ancestral years of the 1800’s to prove membership.
Something needs to be done to STOP DISENROLLMENT! The BIA must step in or take an act of Congress to protect all American Indians from this genocide disaster. Let’s all step up and push for the cause to Stop Disenrollment!