California Indiantribal Heritage vs. Casino

Andrea Vipperman
Native North America
April 19, 2012

California IndianTribal Heritage vs. Casino

Imagine opening your mail over morning coffee to find out from the six page legal document in your hand that you are no-longer a member of your tribe.
Well according to the New York Times article of December 12, 2011 that is what Nancy Dondero and 50+ members of her tribe experienced; they were told that they were not of the ‘proper bloodline’. Ms. Dondero had been carrying an identity card for 58 years of her life, to prove that she was a member of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, and in the blink of an eye, Ms. Dondero and her family lost their identity.

I don’t understand how someone can just take your heritage away from you like that; of course over time and through the generations the bloodlines may thin a little, but the heritage is still there.

The article goes on to say that this has a lot to do with clan rivalry and political power plays, but the number one problem is the casino. California’s casino took in over $7 billion in revenue in 2010. What does all this have to do with loss of tribal membership you may ask? Sadly everything; the casinos provide housing and are a source of income for many tribal members; many of the tribes’ children are educated on casino monies. To lose your tribe, is to lose everything.

Casinos have made big changes for many tribes who once were at the point of poverty; their leaders find themselves in a place of power and good standing both politically and economically and they don’t want to lose that again, so they have decided to disassociate from tribal members that are not of the main bloodline, in other words those of mixed blood or whose heritage is a little sketchy. Which personally I find insulting, for my heritage skips a beat here and there, but I still believe in it and am proud of who I am.

The article says that it is not about power or greed; the governing tribes are...
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