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Tribe in central California kicks out 60 members

June 27, 2019

COARSEGOLD, Calif. (AP) — A casino-owning tribe in central California voted to expel dozens of members who were granted tribal status during an enrollment less than two years ago.

The Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians in Coarsegold voted this week to cut off 60 people from a share of casino profits and other benefits of tribal membership, the Fresno Bee reported Thursday .

“It was determined that these individuals do not meet the requirements for Tribal enrollment and it was necessary to suspend their memberships as part of a formal review and disenrollment hearing,” tribal council chairwoman Jennifer Ruiz said in a written statement to the newspaper.

Critics say the vote is a blow by the tribe against its own people fueled by greed for casino gaming revenue.

The vote is the latest turmoil for the tribe, which has endured repeated rounds of disenrollment and even an armed confrontation as different factions jockey for control of the tribe and its casino.

At least one of the past disenrollments, in 2016, targeted people whose families were among the founding members of the tribe. Prior to that, feuding between two rival factions erupted in an armed confrontation at the casino in October 2014, prompted the closure of the casino for over a year.

Cathy Cory, a Chukchansi descendant whose family was disenrolled in 2006 said that she heard this week’s suspension affects at least 125 people.

“It’s generational trauma for the Indian people of California,” Cory said. “To have your birthright stolen by your own tribe is hurtful, ridiculous and unnecessary.”

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Information from: The Fresno Bee, http://www.fresnobee.com

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