Tribe needs a clean slate

Chukchansi Tribal / Members For A Real SolutionMay 15, 2013 

Guest Commentary

It is a crucial time for our tribe. As the various factions fight for power, we have become divided more than ever. We are in jeopardy of losing our control over the casino as well as our tribal programs for the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians.

The Ayala faction and Lewis faction have failed us, for the tribe is on a spiral decline into oblivion. This must change. The time has come for a whole new tribal council.

We must put aside our differences and stand united as a tribe. It does not matter whether you have supported the Reid faction (four leaders elected in 2011 who were never allowed to take power at the rancheria), the Lewis faction, or the Ayala faction. Let us all come together and demand a new election to end this senseless fight for power once and for all.

If tribal members believe that it is time for a change, we are asking them to sign a new "Clean Slate" referendum no later than May 31. We believe that together, we can make a difference.

The governance dispute that has plagued the tribe since December, 2011 has done great harm to the tribe as a whole and the individual tribal members.

The governance dispute has escalated further since the Wyatt and Ramirez families have formed a third group claiming to be the tribal council.

The tribal membership recognize that the dispute will not be resolved unless the membership takes action.

The tribal membership realize that we are divided and there must be a unification of the tribe.

Therefore, we members of the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians formally have submitted a referendum for a clean slate election to resolve the dispute between the Reid, Lewis, and Ayala factions through the referendum process.

The following is some more specifics from the clean slate referendum:

1. Referendum process: The Madera County Clerk will oversee and certify the referendum process, and ensure confidentiality of all responses. Names and signatures will not be disclosed.

2. Special clean slate election: A special "clean slate" election shall be conducted to elect seven tribal members to the tribal council. All aspects of the election shall be overseen and certified by a neutral third party, such as the Madera County Clerk, the BIA, or another neutral body. All ballots and votes will remain confidential. Once the results are certified, the election will be deemed final.

3. Terms of the elected: The three candidates receiving the highest total votes shall hold office until the December, 2014 election and seating. The four candidates receiving the next highest total of votes shall serve until the December, 2013 election and seating. Thereafter, all terms of office shall return to two years.

4. Tribal membership: All purported disenrollments between November 1, 2011 and today's date shall be declared null and void. Any individual who was a tribal member on October 1, 2011 shall be restored to full tribal membership, and all adult members shall be eligible to vote..

5. Sanctions: All sanctions, including but not limited to anti-violence ordinance sanctions and debarment letters between October 1, 2011 and today's date shall be declared null and void.

6. Voter eligibility: All persons who were, as of October 1, 2011, members of the tribe and eligible to vote in a tribal election shall be eligible to vote in the clean slate election. In addition, all tribal members who have reached the age of 18 since October 1, 2011 shall be eligible to vote.

7. Qualification of candidates: Candidates shall be qualified voters, reside within a 75-mile radius of the Picayune reservation and have never been removed, recalled or forfeited their position on the tribal council prior to December 3, 2011.

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