We've read so much about the issues at the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians. Does anyone really believe that the three groups led by Morris Reid, Nancy Ayala and Reggie Lewis have the best interest of the tribe as their priority, or the best interest of themselves?
All three of these so-called leaders were proponents of the first disenrollments in the tribe in 1999 and 2006. They cut 800 tribal members from their heritage and rights as Native Americans. Is that what someone who purports to care about the tribe does? I think not.
These actions against their own people and those subsequent disenrollments documented by the Sierra Star, have led to violence and huge police presence to protect Chukchansi's shrinking number of citizens from their own leaders. Is this what was meant by tribal self reliance?
Nancy Ayala wants to limit the Chukchansi membership to 46 people. Is she serious? Taking a once prominent tribe to such a small number is unconscionable. A real leader would be making it tribe stronger, by restoring their membership to 1998 levels and enrolling any who rightfully belong.
All three "leaders" are culpable in the destruction of the Chukchansi tribe. Yet blinded by their own ambitions, they can't see the damage they are doing with their depopulation efforts.
Help these leaders see the light. How, you ask? Ask your congressperson to set up field hearings on the issue. Ask for enforcement in the Indian Civil Rights Act. And most important, do not feed the greed.
Simply quit going to Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino. Dry up the income stream and let them know why you are no longer coming. Let them know you refuse to support their corruption and greed.
But what about sovereignty, you may ask? Yes, they are a sovereign nation, but then, so was South Africa, and we used moral persuasion to get them to eliminate apartheid. You can do the same at Chukchansi. Let them know you expect them to act humanely towards their people or they won't get your entertainment dollars. Help them to see that being corrupt is not a long term solution.
Bring all the Chukchansi people home.
Rick Cuevas writes Original Pechanga's Blog originalpechanga.com) which focuses on tribal disenrollment issues.