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Old 05-25-2005, 01:37 AM   #1
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National Conference on Disenrolled and Disenfranchised Indian People

PRESS RELEASE

May 22, 2005
By Marty Firerider Hiles
World Talk Radio



National Conference on Disenrolled and Disenfranchised Indian People

The joy of solidarity and the pain of tribal corruption was present
____________________________

On Saturday, May 21, 2005, representatives from throughout Indian Country peacefully gathered in Temecula, California in a show of unity, strength, and support for those who have been disenrolled, disenfranchised, or otherwise denied their tribal heritage, lineage and civil rights. The gathering was the beginning of a United Front against corrupt Tribal Governments.

The gathering was held in Temecula, California at Harveston Park. Nearly 300 individuals attended the peaceful gathering representing tribes and reservations from all over the United States. Representatives came from Arizona, Northern and Southern California, Washington, Minnesota, Utah, Montana, New Mexico, New York, Nevada and more, including the United Nations. Many of those in attendance were disenrolled former tribal chairpersons and council members, including Indian organizations such as the American Indian Movement representing California, and the radio hosts of the American Indian Movement Today show on World Talk Radio, and others.

Unity and struggling for ones legal civil right to be Indian without others dictating who is Indian seemed to be the conference theme. The discussion turned to staying united while fighting for Indian Civil Rights. However, to never resort to the immoral and illegal actions of those corrupt tribal officials who have created and perpetuated these human rights violations. Several lawyers, including legal and civil rights experts specializing in Indian law spoke of previous Indian case law with emphases on formulating future legal actions and political legislative strategies.

No one has the right to tell an Indian that they are not Indian, nor to deny them their rightful place among their people as handed down by the Creator. That appeared to be the prevailing attitude of the participants at the peaceful gathering.

Police and undercover police vehicles continually patrolled the disenrollment conference of disenfranchised Indian People. One Police officer attending as a disenrolled member, stated that the corrupt Pechanga tribal leadership misled police authorities in that the conference was really a protest of trouble makers, including the American Indian Movement was there to start violence. Joseph Red Bear president of the AIM San Diego chapter stated that, “That is always the way it ends up. Those with unscrupulous motives will falsely accuse AIM to cover up their own dishonest deeds. AIM never initiates any acts of violence; we are a spiritual movement, we respect all life as sacred. However, we will do what ever it takes to defend Indian people and our culture.” Santa Rosa Cahuilla disenrolled members stated that it is always the same with corrupt tribal governments. They utilize the unknowing local law enforcement agencies to support their illegal activities and immoral agendas under the disguise of sovereign immunity. This was followed with the information that the second largest family in the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians is presently being disenrolled. That now counts for over 65 percent of the tribe that will be disenrolled. The sad part they stated is that both families are the oldest original families on the reservation. Even worst, that their corrupt chairman John Marcus is a non Indian who intimidates with boasting about himself and his tribal councils ties to organized crime south of the border.

The conference did not go without participants placing much of the blame on the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The Southern California regional superintendent James Fletcher has been accused by many Indian people of supporting and encouraging corrupt tribal government for personal gain. He has a strong history of supporting Indian disenrollments while encouraging expansion of Indian gaming. Mr Fletcher, himself no stranger to the disenrollment, he is enrolled in Pechanga while holding past tribal positions involved with major disenrollments. Unfortunately, many former BIA officials quit their government jobs to take advantage of the Bureau’s revolving door policies for immediate lucrative tribal gaming opportunities. This growing problem has drawn enough attention for the U.S. Senate Indian Affairs Committee Chairman, Senator John McCain to hold congressional hearings this year.

“Unfortunately, these corrupt tribal leaders are setting a precedent that will change how the laws and congress deal with Indian enrollment and sovereignty. If that happens, everyone loses,” Marty Firerider Hiles noted. “They are setting up a future for all Indians to fail. The voices of the disenrolled are becoming louder as the numbers continue to grow.” John Gomez, conference organizer stated after explaining how another 300 of his people have received disenrollment notices from Pechanga. Many attending spoke of how numerous Indian People are intimidated to stand up to or vote against their corrupt tribal council for fear of being disenrolled, including their entire families. These disenfranchised individuals were continually referred to as the Voiceless Indian Majority.

The conference attendees were invited to hold the next conference on Shoshone territory in Nevada. Everyone left feeling empowered about their future while armed with legal knowledge and a shared sense of solidarity to win one for all Indian People.



For more info contact:

Joseph Red Bear
www.aimsandiego.org
[email protected]
951-767-1743

John Gomez
www.pechanga.net
[email protected]
951-541-6612
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