Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Trauma and Pain of Losing Tribal Heritage: The Devastating Consequences of Disenrollment

 Disenrollment is the process of removing members from a tribe's rolls or membership, effectively stripping them of their tribal heritage and all the associated benefits that come with it.

This is an experience that can cause immense pain and heartbreak for those affected. Losing tribal heritage through disenrollment can have significant social, cultural, and economic consequences, and the impact is often felt for generations.  This is an abuse of our ancestors.

For those who have been disenrolled, the pain of losing their tribal heritage is multifaceted. They may feel a profound sense of loss and grief as they are cut off from their ancestral roots and no longer have a connection to their tribe. They may also feel a sense of betrayal, as the tribe that they believed to be their family turns its back on them.

At Pechanga, the disenrollment of my ancestor Paulina Hunter, 107 years after she died, and the same after so many years of traveling by wagon from Los Angeles, to Temecula, to be included in the censuses was a direct attack, by people who were not with the tribe at that time.   The Butch Murphy family for one.

For many Native Americans, being part of a tribe is not just a matter of ancestry or heritage. It is a vital part of their identity, providing a sense of belonging and community that is difficult to replicate elsewhere. Losing that connection can be isolating and traumatic, leaving people feeling adrift and disconnected from their cultural and social roots.  Read NATIVE HEART  written by my cousin Della.

Disenrollment can also have significant economic consequences, as those who are removed from tribal rolls lose access to tribal resources, including healthcare, education, and financial assistance. This can be particularly devastating for those who rely on these resources to survive, such as the elderly or those with disabilities.

The loss of tribal heritage through disenrollment can also have a profound impact on future generations. Children and grandchildren may be cut off from their tribal heritage and culture, leading to a loss of traditional knowledge, language, and values.  IN FACT, PECHANGA sent jack-booted thugs to pull our youth from the tribal school, see that video description here.
This can have a lasting impact on their sense of identity and their ability to connect with their community and cultural roots.

There are many reasons why a person may be disenrolled, including disputes over tribal membership criteria, allegations of fraud or misrepresentation, or disagreements over the distribution of tribal resources. In some cases, disenrollment may be motivated by politics or personal grievances, with tribal leaders using their power to remove members who they see as a threat or who have spoken out against their policies.   

The two disenrollments at Pechanga, were coincidentally done just prior to tribal elections, resulting in a shift in voting strength.  Imagine if the GOP could get rid of 25 percent of the opposition votes.  THAT IS WHAT HAPPENED.

Regardless of the reason, the pain, heartbreak and yes, TRAUMA of losing tribal heritage through disenrollment are real and significant. It is a traumatic experience that can leave individuals and families feeling lost, disconnected, and vulnerable. While some may be able to rebuild their lives outside of their tribe, many are left struggling to find a sense of identity and purpose in a world that no longer recognizes them as part of their ancestral community.

The impact of disenrollment is not just felt by those who are removed from tribal rolls. It can also have broader social and cultural consequences, leading to division and conflict within tribes and undermining the ability of Native American communities to come together and work towards shared goals.   EXPRESSING MORAL OUTRAGE would be significant, tribal leaders.

It is important to acknowledge the pain and heartbreak that disenrollment can cause and work towards finding ways to address disputes within tribes without resorting to this drastic and destructive measure. This may involve improving communication and transparency within tribal governance structures, these are NOT FAMILY SECRETS, establishing clear and consistent membership criteria, and working to address underlying issues such as poverty, inequality, and historical trauma.

In the end, the loss of tribal heritage through disenrollment is a painful reminder of the ongoing struggles faced by Native American communities. It underscores the need for greater respect and recognition of this abuse, and for a deeper commitment to working towards justice, healing, and reconciliation.

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