Thankful that my cousin Kent, who has written guest posts for me is back to writing. He also wrote a wonderful song on disenrollment you can watch on YOUTUBE
NO DUE PROCESS FOR DISENROLLED INDIANS
BY ‘aamokat ( Kent Appel)
On June 30, 2021 the
New York Times reported, “Bill Cosby was released from prison
Wednesday after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned his 2018
conviction for sexual assault, a dramatic reversal in one of the
first high-profile criminal trials of the #MeToo era.”
Last year the state Supreme Court had ruled Cosby's prosecution violated "principles of due process and fundamental fairness." The state judges said, "prosecutors generally are bound by their assurances, particularly when defendants rely to their detriment upon those guarantees." This week the Unites States Supreme Court decided to not hear the appeal of the state prosecutors thereby letting the overturning of Mr. Cosby’s conviction stand.
The purpose of this article is not to comment on whether Mr. Cosby is guilty of being a sexual predator or not but instead it is to compare how Mr. Cosby was let out of jail because his rights of due process were violated and compare it to how disenrolled Native Americans were denied the same due process rights that are supposed to be afforded to all American citizens during the kangaroo court proceedings that resulted in our losing our citizenship in our tribal nation. OP: Ironically, Bill Cosby stood against DISENROLLMENT at Chukchansi, refusing to perform there.
In the early 2000s
one of our relatives who was serving on the Pechanga tribe’s
enrollment committee reportedly was served disenrollment papers from
certain fellow committee members against our extended family before
any evidence had even been submitted that would warrant opening an
investigation towards possible disenrollment. Our family member along
with other committee members had found evidence of bias by those
certain committee members against certain families when it came to
processing membership applications.
The tribal legal department and even Indian legal services were no help in these matters and neither was the tribal council. This first disenrollment challenge was not allowed as obviously nothing had been shown that would be cause for disenrollment.
Fast forward to 2005
when we the Hunter family of Pechanga were served with disenrollment
papers to appear in front of the enrollment committee. At the
hearings we were not allowed legal representation to appear with us,
we were not told why the applications we had originally submitted for
membership did not prove tribal membership even though the
disenrollment procedures clearly stated the committee was required to
The committee said nothing about why were being disenrolled and the only so called evidence against us were statements by three elders who said we didn’t belong. Not surprisingly one of the statements was by the brother of two of the committee members our family member had accused of wrong doing. Those committee members were allowed to rule on our case even though any fair and reasonable legal proceeding would not have allowed them to do so due to conflict of interest and prejudice against our family. A pure case of unfairness and lack of due process!
We also were not allowed copies of the transcripts of any of the disenrollment proceedings, we were not allowed to record video or even audio of any of the proceedings, and we were not allowed to even take notes as we were not allowed to have pens or pencils in the hearing room!
Related: Are Native Americans Entitled to Civil Rights Protections?
We were given a month to turn in documented proof of tribal membership which all had to be certified or notarized while the statements against us were not certified or notarized. By the way, the statements against our membership, again the only so called negative evidence, was contradicted by statements by three other elders who said they have always recognized us as Pechanga tribal members. Their positive statements confirmed what the documentation of census records, probate records for our land allotment, as we are still allottees on the reservation, and what other documentation showed.
Ironic that Bill
Cosby was convicted as a sexual predator but his conviction was
overturned because of unfairness of the proceedings while we lost our
citizenship in our tribal nation through disenrollment and one of the
statements against us was a hand written note from a convicted child
molester that was sent from prison where he was serving out a seven
So Cosby who was likely guilty gets set free while we who are innocent get to pound sand.
How fair is that?!