Members of the Elem Indian Colony gathered in front of the Superior Court of Mendocino County in Ukiah on Wednesday to dispute a cut in membership from the Clearlake Oaks tribe. The protest included supporters from other Pomo tribes and was intended to continue today. Chris Pugh — Ukiah Daily Journal
By Berenice Quirino,
Lake County Record-Bee
Posted: 04/05/16, 9:14 PM PDT | Updated: 16 hrs ago
Lake County - Beginning today and for the next two days members of the Elem Indian Colony Pomo Tribe will stage a protest at the Ukiah Plaza alongside representatives from at least two other tribes in the area.The group is challenging a cut in membership from the Clearlake Oaks tribe. Those involved in the protest say the disenrollment of tribe members is contrary to tribal law.
Though the exact number at this time is uncertain, two dozen and perhaps more received a notice of disenrollment last week with six pages worth of what lawyer Little Fawn Boland calls baseless accusations.
The San Francisco based attorney has more than a decade of experience with Native American law and is representing the group facing disenrollment. She likens the action to taking away a United States citizen’s legal status for breaking the law.
“Our families are part of the fabric of Lake County,” stated David Brown, an Elem tribe member who reportedly received notice of disenrollment. “We have been here since time immemorial. By the stroke of a pen we are being told we are not Elem people. That we have no rights. We cannot and will not let that stand.”
According to the order of disenrollment mailed apparently by tribal leadership, those who received the notice are accused of violating tribal laws, and pursuant to to Elem Indian Colony Disenfranchisement, Banishment, and Disenrollment Ordinance, if found guilty may be punished by the loss of membership.
However, Boland says that ordinance was never properly passed in accordance with the tribe’s constitution and cannot be enforced.
Article 2, section 4 of the governing document states, “The council shall have power to prescribe rules and regulations subject to the approval of the Secretary of the Interior, covering future membership including adoption and loss of membership.”
In an email correspondence with Troy Burdick, superintendent of the Central California Agency, Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) under the U.S. Department of the Interior, said Monday they have no evidence the ordinance has been submitted to the office for review and approval.
In contrast to the letter, Boland and protesters say the tribal leaders are attempting to strip them of their rights because they voted for a new executive committee at the Nov. 8, 2014 elections.
“As punishment for not supporting their government, the ruling government commenced ‘disenrollment’ proceedings against their own tribal and family members a few days ago,” Boland stated in a press release.
The current government certified just 54 votes to the BIA, according to challengers, but protesters allege another 60 cast ballots for new a new committee. These, they claim, were never officially submitted.
Elem members being disenrolled were on the sign in sheet for the unaccounted votes, and Boland said that’s how they are being tracked down.
Tribal chairman Agustin Garcia said the council had no comment at this time.
“Probably somewhere down the road we’ll have an attorney send a letter,” regarding the issues he said on Monday.
Today’s protest in Ukiah will include members of related Pomo tribes from Coyote Valley and Hopland, which faced its own mass disenrollment.
In March, the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians voted 127-71 to confirm the disenrollment of 74 members of the tribe.
Hopland tribal member Lori Thomas, a doctoral candidate at UC Davis specializing in Pomo history and language curriculum, has conducted a case study of disenrollments in California tribes. She said during a recent tribal meeting she believes that disenrolling members “is really a political movement,” with the goal of removing voters who do not support current council members. The motive is similar to what Elem protesters say is behind their own disenrollment.
The group plans to meet at the Ukiah Plaza next to Round Table Pizza, located at 292 S State St., at 10:30 a.m. The protest is scheduled to take place today, Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.
“We hope the local community and our local politicians will help spread the word that this plague of disenrollment must stop,” Elem tribal member Robert Geary stated in a press release. “ We respect tribal sovereignty to determine whether people have the bloodlines to be part of a tribe, but we cannot support using disenrollment as a punishment. That is not the Native way.”
Sarah Reith, Ukiah Daily Journal correspondent, contributed to this article.
Article prepared for Greenfuse:
BRUTAL DISENROLLMENT OF 70+ PEOPLE FROM HOPLAND TRIBE
EXPULSION BRUTAL DE 70+ MIEMBROS DE LA TRIBU EN HOPLAND
Since the birth of the casino movement, tribal councils across the state - including Mendocino county - have made up lists of who is REALLY a member of the tribe. People who have lived in a tribal community for decades have been taken off the rolls - making the distribution of profits higher for those deemed ‘real’ members. Sometimes the disenrolled person came from another tribal area in the past; sometimes the person is just on the ‘outs’ with the majority on the tribal council. Where do you go to challenge this injustice?
In mid-January the Hopland tribal council voted to disenroll about 70 of the approximately 800 members - or almost 10% of the tribe.
Desde el nacimiento del movimiento del casino, los concejos tribales en todo el estado - incluyendo el Condado de Mendocino - han hecho listas de quién es ‘en realidad’ un miembro del tribu. Para realizar la distribución de los beneficios más altos para aquellos miembros considerados “autenticos” hay personas que han vivido en una comunidad tribal durante décadas que se han echado de las listas.
A veces la persona que han expulsado vino de otra área tribal a un tiempo en el pasado; a veces la persona es un 'enemigo' de la mayoría en el concejo de la tribu.
El enero pasado, el concejo de la tribu Hopland votó para echar para fuera cerca de 70 de los aproximadamente 800 miembros - casi el 10% de la tribu. . No hay lugar para ir a desafiar estas injusticias.
DAWN CHANCE MIEMBRO DE LA TRIBU EN HOPLAND, HABLO EN CONTRA DE LA EXPULSION
El Creador nos hizo los guardianes de la tierra que pisamos, no la tierra que nos asignieron los colonizadoros europeos. Miren dentro de sus corazones - su historia Pomo esta allí. Despiértala. Asumen una parte de nuestra historia y pasenla a nuestra juventud. Un concejo tribal, hambriento de poder, puede llevarse su trozo de papel, pero nunca puede quitarle lo que está en su corazón. Sientense y piensen por un momento, sientesen en silencio, y piensen en lo que su abuela, bisabuela o el anciano más viejo que sigue viviendo diría sobre las acciones actuales de nuestra tribu.
No tomeremos una lucha contra nosotros mismos, pero mirremos dentro de nuestros corazones y manteneremos nuestras verdaderas tradiciones vivas. Enseñsenle a nuestros hijos lo que significa ser nativa - cuidar la tierra, los animales - que no hagan ningún daño y que respeten la vida que la Madre Tierra y lo que provee para nosotros. Estos son nuestros caminos, conserver esta paz, no iniciar una guerra contra nuestros hermanos y hermanas.
Hemos luchado contra el gobierno por la tierra en Hopland para asegurar que nuestras familias tengan un lugar seguro en el cual crecer y florecer, no para enfrentar a la familia contra familia. Estoy realmente triste por las acciones de nuestros funcionarios elegidos durante la reunión a puerta cerrada. Estas acciones son un crimen contra las tradiciones que tenemos dentro de nuestros corazones.
DAWN CHANCE, A POMO WITH THE HOPLAND TRIBE, SPEAKS OUT AGAINST DISENROLLMENT'
Creator made us the guardians of the land we walk on, not the land assigned to us by settlers from Europe. Look inside your hearts -- your Pomo story is in there. Wake it up. Take on a part of our history and pass it to our youth. A powerhungry council can take away your piece of paper, but they can NEVER take away what is in your heart. Sit and think for a moment, quietly sit, and think about what your grandma, great-grandma or oldest living elder would say about the current actions of our tribe.
Let us not take up a fight against ourselves, but let us look inside our hearts and keep our real traditions alive. Teach our children what it means to be native - to look after the land, the animals - to do no harm and to respect the life the Mother Earth provides for us. These are our ways, let us preserve this peace, not start a war against our brothers and sisters.
We fought the government for the land in Hopland so that our families would have a safe harbor in which to grow and flourish, not to pit family against family. I am truly saddened by the actions of our elected officials during the closed meeting. These actions are a crime against the traditions we hold inside our hearts.
Protesting expulsión February 23 under the Shokawah Casino sign. - Photo Terri Melendrez
KMEC Programmer Terri Melendrez broadcast voices from the disenrollment protest on Native Ways and Music. Escuche los lunes de 4 - 5 por la tarde en Radio KMEC 105.1 en el valle de Ukiah. Every Monday from 4 - 5 pm on KMEC in the Ukiah Valley.
Policía tribal no permite que los miembros asistan a las reuniones en donde se deciden sus futuros. Tribal police prevent members from attending meetings where their future is decided.
Photo tomado de video puesto sur Youtube.
From a video posted to Youtube.
Página puesto por Edwin Nieves y Antonina Esposito