Trouble In Indian Country
In some Indian Tribes, particularly west coast tribes with casinos, disenrollment is a growing problem. Disenrolled members lose all their rights as tribal citizens and are cut off from all benefits. In the case of the Pechanga, that means the end of $20K checks each month—and the increase in the remaining members checks.
A young Mashpee Wampanoag posted a link to a YouTube video on the subject, followed by the usual likes and comments, mostly comments about the greed that can result from sudden riches for people who never had money before. $20,000 a month, that’s almost a quarter million a year. And that’s not enough?
Digging Up Bodies
So it went, as you scan down the page, until you reach this line:
Paula Peters Shameful to think how close we came to this. So glad our future is in the hands of tribe members like you Brian. Stay strong.
What is she talking about, one wonders. Why is she coming from out in left field with a statement like this? Then someone who knows poses the question:
Paul Mills So Paula, are you trying to say that the diligent and careful consideration of past enrollment workers is somehow equivalent to disenrollment? do you really want to go there?
It would seem that Paula is attacking the integrity and competence of the genealogists and membership committees. But there’s even more:
Paula Peters So that was diligent and careful consideration that disenrolled my Aunt Amelia and three others for asking questions??? Hmmm…. Like I said Brian, stay strong.
So, There it is, she wants to dig up old bodies, and for what purpose? Is there going to be some sort of propaganda campaign to try to discredit the proper and constitutional means of placing candidates for membership on the rolls?
Let us continue:
Paul Mills First of all, Amelia was not disenrolled. Please do not spread lies. And the shunning was not for asking questions, it was for suing INDIVIDUALS in superior court, and in fact, making it impossible for my niece to refinance her house. The suit placed lis pendens on all properties and threatened peoples livelihoods. When are you going to smarten up? You may fool these young kids, but no one else.
Clearing The Air
Why don’t we start with the truth.
- Paula Peters lost her lawsuit in Barnstable Superior Court against the Tribe for not putting her on the ballot in a Tribal election. She could have easily gotten on that ballot had she done like all other candidates and showed proof of meeting attendance, but refused, in her own uniquely narcissistic way, because she was above all that.
- In the next chapter, we find Amelia Bingham and others filing another lawsuit, this time for $7 million, claiming financial mismanagement by the Tribal administration. The suit was not just against the administration as a governing body, but against each and every individual member, as well as against their property and assets. Are you hearing me? They tried to ruin people. Not only that, but they got their exhibits wrong through bad research, claiming property that was owned by non-Tribal people and supplying wrong addresses. Paula’s name was not on the suit, but I guarantee her hand was in it.
- At an emergency meeting of the Tribal Council subsequent to the papers being served, there was a discussion of what the Tribe could do to the individuals involved in the suit. Several remedies were discussed. Chairman Marshall indicated that disenrollment would be unconstitutional, whereupon Jessie “Little Doe” and Chief Lopez both advanced the idea of “shunning,” that is, suspending all rights of membership emanating from the Tribe, but not those due from federal sources. Chairman Marshall neither conceived of nor did he vote on shunning.
- At Barnstable Superior Court, the lawyers for Amelia Bingham, et al, encountered a skeptical judge, who questioned their motives for bringing the suit. The suit was without merit.
- The only thing that the judge ordered was that Tribal members had the right to see financial records. The Tribe promptly complied and gave the opportunity and with the Tribal office vacated, Stephen Bingham, Amelia’s son, was handed the books. Nothing came out of that inspection.
Is This Necessary?
Of course not. The problem here is the continued use, by Tribal and non-Tribal people alike, of the technique of the “Big Lie.” If you tell a lie loud enough and long enough it becomes the truth, right? You the reader, who may not have been privy to the events that took place while you were in middle school or were too busy to pay attention, really need to learn what transpired and those who were the actors in this drama. Not all things are as they appear, and there are many skeletons in closets.
We will continue to tell the truth.