Saturday, 25 May 2024

Robinson protest draws support for disenrolled members

Protesters stand in front of Robinson Rancheria Resort and Casino at 1545 E. Highway 20, Nice, on the morning of Saturday, January 17, 2009, to protest the tribal council's disenrollment of close to 60 members, a move the tribe announced last month. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.


NICE – Dozens of Robinson Rancheria tribal members – those under threat of disenrollment and those who aren't – as well as nontribal members lined a short stretch of Highway 20 near the tribe's casino on Saturday, protesting the tribal council's action to remove at least 60 people from its rolls and to fire numerous people from jobs with the tribe.

The disenrollment, which took place last month as Lake County News has reported, has deepened divisions in the tribe, according to those who marched and chanted Saturday.

The Bureau of Indian Affairs must approve the action, according to the tribe's constitution. That agency has yet to do that, according to tribal members who appealed their disenrollment and await a decision.

That disenrollment action was followed earlier this month by sudden firings for disenrollees and nontribal members working at California Tribal TANF, which offers social services to Indians, and the tribe's well-respected environmental program.

Indian and non-Indians alike carried signs that read, “Corruption spoken here,” “Can you smell the greed,” “Justice for who? All,” “Did our ancestors die for injustice,” “All tribes united to fight tribal corruption,” “Honk for justice” and “Fairness and quality for all RR (Robinson Rancheria) Pomos.”

About 50 people were engaged in the protest at any one time, with many people coming and going over five and a half hours. Drivers of dozens of cars honked and waved to the group.

Clayton Duncan helped start the morning out with a brief smudging ceremony, burning sage and offering a blessing of the protest and its participants, who ranged from young children to elders.




Clayton Duncan with a smudge stick, preparing to bless the protest area with the burning sage on Saturday, January 17, 2009, at Robinson Rancheria's entrance. Photo by Elizabeth Larson.



Duncan expressed concern over what the disenrollment could mean for the tribe's future and its young people, some of whom also are proposed to be stricken from membership rolls.

“What about our children?” Duncan said. “They don't even think about our children.”

Wanda Quitiquit, one of those targeted for disenrollment and a member of the American Indian Rights and Resources Organization (AIRRO), credited AIRRO – which cosponsored the protest – with being the only group to actively fight for Indian civil rights.

“I'm not disenrolled as far as I'm concerned,” said Quitiquit, who called California “the home of disenrollment.”

She said AIRRO estimates that 3,000 California Indians have been disenrolled from their tribes. “There is something very bad going on in Indian land today.”

Wanda Quitiquit and her brother, Marion Quitiquit, have been part of AIRRO since it was founded several years ago with the help of the Foreman family of Redding Rancheria, who were themselves disenrolled.

Quitiquit said Indian gaming “is our downfall,” and said the present disenrollment crisis requires Indians to step up their political activism like they did in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.




Wanda Quitiquit, left, addresses the crowd of protesters on the morning of Saturday, January 17, 2009, in front of the Robinson Rancheria Resort and Casino and the rancheria's tribal office.

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