Disenrollment: A Tale of Two Tribes

  Two neighboring California tribes are going about disenrollment in two completely different ways:

This week the Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians is becoming the latest tribe to terminate its own people.  For 70 Pomo Indians, it is not a question of whether they'll be disenrolled, but how quickly.

Meanwhile, just down the road, the Graton Rancheria has "buck[ed] the trend" of mass disenrollment by imposing constitutional limitations on the tribal government's ability to jettison its citizens.  (Graton Chairman Greg Sarris recently went on record before a group of California Indian leaders, denouncing tribal disenrollment, and becoming the first tribal leader to do so nationally.)story

Tragically, Dry Creek's disenrollment efforts are related to Graton's very recent economic success:

Coming at a time when the tribe's River Rock Casino is suffering the bruising effects of competition from the newly opened Graton Resort and Casino in Rohnert Park, some suspect it's another way to trim expenses by reducing the number of Dry Creek tribal members who get a monthly “per capita” distribution of casino profits.

Indeed, the tragic trend of mass tribal disenrollment is very much about "money, and an 'individualistic, materialistic attitude' that is not indigenous to tribal communities."

I predict that for these two California tribes, history will tell:  "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair."

Gabriel “Gabe” Galanda is the Managing Partner at Galanda Broadman. He is an enrolled member of the Round Valley Indian Tribes of Covelo, California. Gabe can be reached at 206.300.7801 or gabe@galandabroadman.com.