Our friends from Pala, who were disenrolled by Chairman Robert Smith nearly a decade ago, OBJECT to the nomination of current Tribal Chair of the IONE BAND of Miwok Sara Dutschke to the Native American Heritage Commission by CA Governor Gavin Newsom
To: Catheryn Rivera-Hernandez
Governor's Office of Gavin Newsom
Dear Ms. Rivera-Hernandez,
Recently the Governors Office announced the appointment of Sara Dutschke to the California Native American Heritage Commission [CNAHC].
As a former tribal member of the Pala Band of Mission Indians [PBMI] who was directly harmed by Ms. Dutschke, I wish to voice my fervent opposition to this appointment.
During her tenure as the tribal attorney of the PBMI Ms. Dutschke drafted an enrollment ordinance which removed authority for enrollment decisions from the Band’s General Council and placed this authority in the hands of the Band’s Executive Committee. This was a contradiction to the Band’s Constitution which places political authority in the General Council.
Ms. Dutschke was retained as Tribal Attorney of the PBMI without approval by the PBMI General Council or the Secretary of the Interior, despite the requirements of the PBMI Constitution.
As the tribal attorney, Ms. Dutschke had an ethical duty and responsibility to represent the interests of the Band and its members.
She betrayed that duty by working to disenroll tribal members, and afterward labored diligently to deny all recourse to disenrolled members, even representing the Executive Committee in Allen v. Smith (No. 3:12-cv-01668-WQH-KSC) claiming the Executive Committee was protected from suit brought by tribal members due to the provisions of sovereign immunity.
Sovereign immunity is intended to protect tribes from external litigants who might interfere with the self-determination of a tribal nation. It should never be extended to protect tribal leaders from rectifying actions of the political body of the tribe, but Ms. Dutschke argued it was necessary to allow the tribe to resolve internal matters without interference from the court.
The only reason there was a suit in the first place was because the General Council was not allowed to address the matter since their authority had been removed through the contrivance of Ms. Dutschke, and then she assisted the Executive Committee in eliminating any other recourse, such as Tribal Court.
These actions of Ms. Dutschke constitute a betrayal of trust of the highest order. I consider them to be moral and ethical violations that should have been addressed by the State Bar of California had they not been conducted in a tribal forum where federal jurisdiction applies. These moral and ethical violations strongly indicate how Ms. Dutschke values tribal heritage.
For her tribal heritage is malleable and can change based on the whim of the current power base. She reached back a hundred years into the past to orchestrate the reduction of blood degree of an original tribal member in order to destroy the legacy and heritage of an entire family lineage. She has no qualms about revoking tribal citizenship and denying due process and is more than willing to undermine the democratic processes endorsed by a tribe’s political body in order to assist tribal leaders in illicit objectives such as removing internal opposition.
Not only do these actions reveal how Ms. Dutschke values tribal heritage, but they also demonstrate a total disregard for political consensus, due process, and equal protection under the law.
Ms. Dutschke has proven that she prefers to change the rules rather than abide by them and will be unable to make objective decisions as a member of the CNAHC.
She will instead operate under the influence of those who wish to twist the rules and decision making to favor their position. This appointment should be rejected and a candidate that values California Indians, our heritage and our culture be assigned in Ms. Dutschke’s place.
All California Indians would welcome an appointee that has a proven record of protecting and promoting our heritage and tradition rather than one that has openly attacked tribal members.