Members of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians who were targeted for disenrollment earlier this year were kickedout of the tribe in March — and now a new group of more than 60 members is facing the same fate, according to an attorney representing the majority of the impacted tribal members.
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Attorney David Dehnert told The Bee the disenrollments and the new pending disenrollments are in violation of the tribe’s constitution and several other tribal laws. Dehnert represents about 39 of the 49 who received notices in mid-March saying their names would be removed from the tribe’s membership roll. Dehnert is from Southern California, and he typically represents tribes, but said he believed the tribe’s actions were so egregious that he decided to change spots in this case to litigate the tribe.
The tribe, he said, has now selected another group of around 62 members who will be part of another wave of disenrollments. He represents about 36 of them. According to a copy of one of the notices, the affected members’ disenrollment hearing is April 22.
Dehnert said there’s no “accountability, no judicial review,” and “no checks and balances at all” with the actions of the Chukchansi Tribal Council. OP: MORAL OUTRAGE IS NEEDED
“It’s deplorable what they are doing to their own people. They should be taking care of their people,” he said.
At stake is a piece of the profits from the tribe’s sprawling Chukchansi Gold Resort & Casino on Highway 41 north of Fresno. According to an online estimate, the casino in 2022 had revenue of $43.7 million.
Affected members who spoke with The Bee in January said the disenrollments are being driven by greed and designed to significantly swell the monetary benefits for some tribal families. Another 60 to 70 members were disenrolled last year.
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