Saturday, June 30, 2012

Tale of Two Pala Reservations - Trouble In Paradise

As humans we have a habit of romanticizing the past. This is common in nearly all human cultures. The truth is life is not always good for humans. Since the dawn of our history we have been fighting each other and killing each other.

Often the life of indigenous peoples not just in American but all over the world is also romanticized. Indians are sometimes thought of as "ignorant savages" living in harmony with the land and nature. But we know indigenous people also fought each other, killed each other, and engaged in warfare albeit not on the scale of the Europeans.

We also know indigenous people suffered like everyone else from disease, climate changes, food shortages, and fatal injuries. Death is universal and all cultures have had to develop ways to deal with death.

For Pala there might be a tendency to think of the "Old Ways" and the old times as being better. Some may even think life at Kupa prior to the removal was wonderful and idyllic - some sort of paradise lost. It wasn't. There were hard times just like there are for all people. The Kupa were harassed and did some of their own harassing.

Ultimately the Kupa were forced onto Pala where Luiseno Indians were already inhabiting. There was already a reservation established before the Kupa arrived. Some may think that the modern strife Pala is experiencing is some new development due to the casino and in the past things were somehow better and everyone got along.

This isn't really the case. From the time of the removal going forward squabbles have broken out between various groups and families. Early on it typically had to do with allotments. The Kupa were entitled to allotments since they were to receive land in lieu of the land they lost at Kupa (Warner's Hot Springs). The Old Pala (Luiseno) also thought they should receive allotments.

This tension existed and persisted well into the 1950's.

This 1951 letter from BIA District Agent H.W. Gilmore to BIA Area Director James B. Ring describes some of this friction:

7 Feb 1951 Pala H.W Gilmore Letter BIA District Agent to Area Director Mr. James B .Ring

This 1957 letter from the BIA Sacramento Area Office addresses whether there are two Pala Indian Reservations or not:
1 Jul 1957 060 - Pala 1957 Letter from the Sacramento Area BIA Office Regarding Two Pala Reservations

One may think "well that was then and this is now" with regard to Two Reservations only even as recently as last year Pala is referred to as the Pala Band of Luiseno Indians.

The following are the minutes from the June 20th, 2011 Fallbrook Community Planning Group where Robert Smith is listed as the Chairman of the Pala Band of Luiseno Indians on page 2:
20 June 2011 Fallbrook Community Planning Group Minutes

Also, on an EPA webpage dated April 2012 Pala is referred to as the Pala Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Pala Reservation.

The following letter from BIA Area Director James B. Ring describes Mrs. Juliana Calac's opposition to BIA supervision of the tribe:
7 Mar 1952 Pala Letter from Area Director James B. Ring

This November 8th, 1957 letter from BIA Field Representative Orlando Garcia goes over some of the disagreements over land assignments:
8 Nov 1957 Pala Letter from BIA Field Representative Orlando Garcia

As one can see tensions and squabbles have been a part of Pala's history for well over 100 years.  The mass disenrollments that recently occured at Pala are a new thing but tensions between those removed from Warner's and those that live at Old Pala have existed and persisted since 1903.

And the question as to whether there are two Pala Indian reservations or not?  That question still seems to persist today.  Are we the Pala Band of Mission Indians, The Pala Band of Luiseno Indians, the Pala Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Pala Reservation, or maybe all three?

I can remember before the casino days people would fight over a once per year $300 per capita payment from Pala's Sand and Gravel operations.  That was big money in those days.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Two Indian Workers Attact Attention

Here is a newspaper article that discusses the Riverside County Fair in 1916 where Margarita Brittain and Salvadora Valenzuela put on some demonstrations at the Pala Booth. Margarita Brittain demonstrated basket weaving and Salvadora Valenzuela demonstrated lace making. It's a pretty neat article. It's a little hard to read but if you enlarge it and squint a bit you can get through it. Great information considering the time period. I am also including the accompanying picutres.
Two Indian Workers Attract Attention RIverside County Fair 1916 October 10th to 14th

You can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Why Are The Brittain Descendents Being Held to a Higher Standard Than Other Pala Tribal Members?

The Brittain Descendents are being held to a much higher standard than any of the other tribal members at Pala.  Why is this the case?  Ok, we all have some theories so insert your own here.

On the surface is the claim that we do not know who Margarita's father is.  We do know who her father is.  Her father is Pelegrino Ortega.  We also know from the sworn testimony of Carolina Nolasquez that Margarita and Merced had the same father.  Thus, if you really believe we do not know and cannot prove who Margarita's father is then the same must hold true for Merced.

As discussed in the comments on the prevoious post the documents provided there layout how the Pala 1913 Allotment Roll was created.  A hand written document of the allotment roll was used to establish the base roll of the tribe.  This hand written document did not have roll numbers or blood degrees.  The BIA then used other documents such as Family History Cards and notes made by Special Alloting Agent Mr. L.W. Green to reconstruct the base roll of the tribe with allotment numbers and blood degree.

On this reconstructed roll Margarita Brittain is listed as 4/4.  Her children are listed as 1/2.  To get an allotment one had to be at least 1/2.  You will notice looking at the 1913 rolls that everyone is either 4/4 or 1/2.

In the early 1960's Pala's Enrollment Committee set out to develop criteria for how Pala would determine its membership.  A statement was issued by the Enrollment Committee that goes over 5 points for considering enrollment.  You can read that statement below:

Pala Enrollment Committee - 5 points to be considered for enrollment

You will notice how the Pala Enrollment Committee was looking at considering anyone who was removed from Warner's to be counted as full bloods.  Whether this policy was officially adopted or not I do not know.  If it was officially adopted then I would think my Great Grandfather James Brittain who was part of the removal would be counted as 4/4 and not 1/2.

Others on the 1913 Rolls do appear as 4/4 that are not 4/4 Kupa which suggests that some deference was given to those who were removed from Warner's.

Case in point is Rocinda Nolasquez.  She was not 4/4 Kupa.  Her Grandfather Sylvario Nolasquez was "Mexican Indian" (Yaqui).  We can see this on her 1928 Application here:

Rocinda Nolasquez 1928 Application

Most of us who were removed from the Pala tribe starting in June 2011 have no real idea why the tribe considers us disenrolled.  The first 8 to be disenrolled received letters suggesting the 1928 application for Juana Regetti Freeman was the reason.  The remaining 154 disenrolled on February 3rd 2012 received no explanation or reason for the disenrollment.

We know from prevoious BIA documents that the BIA stated the 1928 applications for Margarita Brittain's chidren were tampered with and were not to be relied on for considering blood degree.

We also know Robert Smith requested the 1928 applications for Margarita's Children on June 2nd, 2011 and June 23, 2011.  See the following letter addressed to Robert Smith from the BIA:

13 July 2011 Robert Smith Request 28 Applications for Brittain Descendents

If Robert Smith and the rest of Pala's Executive Committee (Enrollment Committee) now wishes to use the 1928 Applications for determining membership in Pala then why didn't Robert Smith request the 1928 applications for everyone?

Clearly based on this new standard Rocinda Nolasquez should be considered 1/4 Kupa not 4/4.  If we trace her mother's blood it's posisble Rocinda could be 3/4 but I am not familiar with her mother's ancestry.

A commenter wrote this earlier:

"Also, Rocinda Nolasquez grandfather was Sylvario Nolasquez. Her father was Salvador Nolasquez. Her mother's lineage was called foreign in Jane Hills notes...although her mother was Native. Roscinda would have been 1/4 Kupa if we do not count her mother's Indian blood. Rocinda would have been as much as 3/4 American Native if we add her mothers blood."

There are many many other tribal members who would not meet the membership requirements of Pala if the 1928 applications were used to determine Pala Membership.

So, is this the new standard at Pala even though the BIA has stated the 1928 applications are fraught with errors?  Is this the new standard even though one of Pala's original Enrollment Committees wanted to consider anyone removed from Warner's as full blood?

If this is indeed the new standard Pala Tribal Members need to beware.  Robert Smith can at any time request the 1928 applications for your ancestors and remove you from the tribe in a moment's notice.  The descendents of Sam Barker and Remijio Lugo should be concerned as should many others.

Let me state for the record that I do not wish to see anyone else removed from Pala.  I just want Pala to stand on Custom and Tradition, the Articles of Association, and the Constitution which clearly state the 1913 Allotment Rolls are the base roll for the tribe.  You have to be at least 1/16 blood of the band and a lineal descendent from the 1913 rolls to be a member of Pala.

This is what our elders wanted.  This is what they established.  By creating this new standard Robert Smith and the Executive Committee have put the entire tribe in peril.

If you have been told you have nothing to worry about because the Executive Committee won't disenroll you don't believe it.  They said the same thing to many families in the summer of 2011.  They told many of the Brittain Descendents they had nothing to worry about they were not getting disenrolled.

Look where we are today.  We know Robert Smith requested the 1928 applications for Margarita's children as early as June 2011 well before the enrollment committee told people they were not disenrolling anyone else.

The tribe is in serious jeopardy of being torn apart and reduced down to half the size it is today.  The General Council should seek to remedy this situation as soon as possible before more people are disenrolled.  It is already rumored that Pala is looking to disenroll 60 more people.  Are you next?

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Father of Margarita Brittain - Pelegrino Ortega - Redux

I know we have discussed Pelegrino Ortega, the father of Margarita Brittain previously but I am going to go over it again.

First up is the 1986 BIA letter where the BIA concludes that Margarita Brittain is 4/4 and that the Secretary is authorized to officially record Margarita as 4/4.  This letter references the sworn testimony of Carolina Nolasquez and makes reference to the 1928 applications for the children of Margarita Brittain being tampered with.
1986 BIA Letter Authorizing The Secretary to Record Margarita Brittain as 4/4

Next we have a 1989 BIA letter that goes through the reasoning for determining that Margarita Brittain is 4/4 and references the Probate Hearing of Merced Nolasquez where Carolina Nolasquez testifies that Margarita and Merced had the same father but different mothers.
1989 May 17 Department of the Interior Letter - Margarita Brittain is 4/4

Next we have the sworn testimony of Carolina Nolasquez where she states that Margarita and her mother Merced Nolasquez were half sisters and had the same father but different mothers.
1921 July 22 Sworn Testimony Carolina Nolasquez at the Probate Hearing for Merced Nolasquez

Next up is the Family History Card for Merced Nolasquez showing her father as Pelegrino Ortega and lists Margarita Brittain as a half sister.
Merced Nolasquez Individual History Card

Lastly we have the probate hearing for Rafaela Owlinguish half sister to Merced Nolasquez and Margarita Brittain.  On the last page it lists Merced's father as Pelegrino Ortega and mother as Josefa Chuparosa.

The conclusion then is Margarita and Merced had the same father, Pelegrino Ortega.  Merced's mother was Josefa Chuparosa and Margarita's mother was Miguela Owlinguish.

Please note each document can be enlarged for easier reading by clicking on the square in the bottom right corner of each document.  Each document can also be downloaded and printed out.
Rafaela Owlinguish Probate

UPDATE:  A commenter pointed out that it appears based on the probate of Raefela Owlinguish that Josefa Chuparosa is not Merced's mother.  The common parent is Pelegrino but Merced is listed as half-sister.

*Note - earlier I was in error by saying Raefela was Merced's mother, she was Merced's half-sister not mother.

On Merced's family history card the parents are listed as Miguela and Pelegrino but her siblings are listed as half-siblings.

So perhaps the real question is who is Merced's mother?  Uh-Oh...someone call up Pala's Disenrollment Committee.

Again, remember,  Carolina Nolasquez's testimony is SWORN testimony that Merced and Margarita had the same Father (Pelegrino) but different mothers.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

LasCal, Robert Smith, Jerry Turk, Paula Lorenzo, Arlen Opper, and George Maloof

LasCal Land Development, LLC is a Nevada based LLC.

You can look up the information at the Nevada Secretary of State Business Search.  Just search for LasCal.

Here is what the ownership of LasCal is listed as:

LasCal Land Development, L.L.C.

To anyone following this blog these should all be familiar names.  Jerry Turk was a long time manager of the Pala Casino.  George Maloof was at one time owner of the Palms Casino in Las Vegas and owns the Sacramento Kings.  George Maloof is also a preferred shareholder in Wells Fargo Bank.  Arlen Opper has been involved in Indian Gaming for years along with Howard Dickstein.  Paula Lorenzo is the tribal Chairwoman of the The Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians.

The saga of LasCal goes back to the early 2000's when the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians sought to expand their Card Parlor in San Pablo into a Las Vegas style Casino with Class III gaming.  This was made possible by a a last minute provision added to a Congressional Bill by George Miller "ordering the Secretary of the Interior to take the site of the Casino San Pablo cardclub into trust for the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians, to declare the land a reservation, and to backdate the trust status so that the land would be deemed to have been Indian land since before IGRA was passed.2 The later provision was intended to exempt the proposal for a Nevada-style casino from review of community impacts." (Source Class II gaming Machines In San Pablo)

After the plans were revealed to develop a huge Las Vegas style casino at San Pablo there was a State wide backlash.  This ultimately lead to the Lytton Band of Pomo Indians dropping the plans and instead they installed Class II Bingo Like slot machines.  You may recall that earlier I wrote about the development funded by Pala to create a Video Lottery Terminal Slot Machine.

Turns out that in the early days Pala was an investor in the San Pablo Casino:

"At that time, the tribe of about 50 members teamed up with LasCal Development Corp. a
California-based development company owned by Jerry Turk. The partnership also includes the Maloof family, owners of the Palms, and California-based tribes the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians, and the Pala Band of Mission Indians. The Paiute Tribe also has retained Las Vegas-based Construction Consultants Inc."

Tribe Taps American Nevada for Planned Development - Thursday, March 3, 2005 | 10:54 a.m. - Las Vegas Sun

From here we need to go back and revisit the lawsuit filed by RUMSEY INDIAN RANCHERIA OF WINTUN INDIANS vs Howard Dickstein.

Here are some excerpts:

Contemporaneous with the restructuring of the Tribe's investment in the Lytton Band's casino project, the Tribe invested in LASCAL Land Development, LLC ("LASCAL") an entity seeking to develop land in Nevada, belonging to the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe.

The members of LASCAL nearly mirrored those in CIGD and CIGM, including the Tribe (through RMG), the Pala Management Group, the Maloof family, Opper Development, LLC and Turk Paiute, L.P., an entity controlled by Turk, the Pala Band's business manager.

Dickstein, Zerbi and Dickstein & Zerbi also represented the Pala Band in the LASCAL transaction. Dickstein, Zerbi and Dickstein & Zerbi did not disclose to the Tribe their conflict of interest in simultaneously representing multiple parties in the transaction or explain the potential and adverse significance of this conflicted representation. They also never sought or obtained the Tribe's consent and waiver of any conflict of interest in connection with representing both tribal clients in LASCAL.

The LASCAL operating agreement contains provisions that economically benefit
Opper at the Tribe's expense. Opper Development, LLC was a 3% owner of LASCAL and the Tribe was a 45% owner. However, upon the repayment of each member's invested capital, Opper's ownership interest increased from 3% to 8.25% without any further investment of funds. Correspondingly, the Tribe's ownership interest in LASCAL decreased from 45% to 33.75%.

In or about January 2004, at the request of Dickstein and/or Opper, then-
Chairperson Lorenzo signed the LASCAL operating agreement. Opper never sought or obtained the Tribal Council's approval of his ownership interest in LASCAL, through Opper Development, LLC. Further, neither Dickstein nor Opper disclosed to the Tribal Council that the LASCAL agreement's structure contained a "carried interest" in which Opper's ownership increased at the expense of the two Tribal investors (the Tribe and the Pala Band), whose interests would correspondingly decrease. Dickstein and Opper knew, or should have known, that the Tribal Council never authorized the terms of the investment. Thereafter, Opper did obtain a 3% ownership interest in LASCAL.

Dickstein, Zerbi and Dickstein & Zerbi, failed to faithfully and zealously
represent the Tribe's interests in negotiating the LASCAL operating agreement. Dickstein,
Zerbi and Dickstein & Zerbi failed to advise the Tribe about the Tribe's rights, the nature and extent of Opper's ownership interest in LASCAL, and Opper's fiduciary duties and
responsibilities to the Tribe.

The Tribe first discovered some of the acts, injuries and damages described above
after the Tribe retained Kroll. The Tribe discovered the balance of the acts, injuries and
damages described above after Dickstein's and Opper's termination and the Tribe secured its records from them.
Notwithstanding his position as General Counsel and attendant duties, Dickstein claims it was not his role to review the agreements for the Tribe's various investments. He takes this position even though he was involved in the negotiations for some of the investments, the original executed agreements were located in his files, and the agreements frequently listed him as the Tribe's legal and/or primary contact. As important, he never told the Tribal Council that he was not reviewing the agreements, and the Tribal Council understood otherwise. Dickstein also provided no advice or warning to the Tribal Council about Opper's receipt of undisclosed compensation from the various investments and the conflicts, of interest that arose therefrom, not to mention the existence of other investment terms that disproportionately favored the investment's promoters.

Nor did Dickstein inform the Tribal Council about his own conflicts of interest in connection with the investments. For example, when Rumsey invested in the Lytton Band's casino in San Pablo, Dickstein did not explain to the Tribal Council the implications of his representing multiple clients in the same transaction. He previously had held himself out as Lytton's General Counsel, and in this deal, along with Rumsey, he represented another of bill Rumsey's co-investors—the Pala Band of Mission Indians. He also omitted that he stood to gain $1 million annually in "pre-approved fee arrangements" under the terms of the management agreement for the venture. (The management agreement also gave Opper $500,000 annually.)

Full Lawsuit here:
Rumsey Band Rancheria vs Howard Dickstein

The Lytton Band of Pomo Indians continues to operate their casino with Class II slot machines and has been wildly successful.

Casino finds a wild card in knockoff slots

Article Exercpt:

"Scaled back from a planned high-rise mega-casino, the Lytton band's modest San Pablo Lytton Casino is on a pace to gross more than $100 million in its first year solely with gaming devices – strikingly similar to slots – that do not require state approval. 

The knockoff slots – slower, bingo-based machines – are netting more than $330 a day each, an eye-popping figure that is double the take for slots on the Las Vegas strip and more than slots earn at some of the state's bigger Indian casinos."

Another article:

SAN PABLO Video bingo machines are tribe's new gamble Devices no different from slots, say critics of East Bay casino 

Casino San Pablo spokesman Doug Elmets disagreed, calling electronic bingo and slot machines "inherently different."

Unlike with slot machines, video bingo players play against each other and not the house, though the house takes a cut, he said. The bingo machines also "operate more slowly and generate substantially less revenue" than slot machines, he said.

The Lytton tribe initially had proposed building a six- to eight-story casino with as many as 5,000 slot machines on the site of its cardroom near Interstate 80, which was essentially turned into a reservation under congressional legislation authored by Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez.

While the tribe later sliced the proposed number of slots in half, it could not rally enough support in the state Legislature to approve its compact with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Under the deal, the tribe would have paid $25 million and 25 percent of its annual profits -- estimated at $155 million a year -- to state and local governments to mitigate impacts.

But the tribe does not need a compact to operate so-called Class II gaming, including bingo and card games such as poker. There are no limits on the number of machines, and the tribe will not be required to pay the state, although it already makes payments to the city of San Pablo.

Elmets said the tribe has spent several million dollars renovating its 71, 000-square-foot cardroom and could double the number of video bingo machines depending on customer demand.

The video machines will cost between 1 cent and $5 to play, and progressive jackpots will start at $50,000 with no upper limits. The machinehas a 15-inch touch-screen with a graphic representation of a bingo card. Instead of coins, it pays out with paper slips that can be redeemed, Elmets said.

But a novice looking at a picture of a "Video Reel Touch Bingo" machine on the Web site of manufacturer IGT, Casino San Pablo's supplier, could easily mistake it for a slot machine.

You may recall that Anchor Gaming originally had the contract to develop the Pala Casino but was later bought out by IGT.

So what is this all about?  I don't know, you tell me.  Is Pala an investor in the San Pablo casino or not?  Robert Smith as listed as a Manager for LasCal.  Is he representing Pala on that board or is this a personal investment? 

Are the Class II machines being operated at San Pablo based on the VLT machines which Pala funded the development of?  If so, who is earning royalties on that patent from those machines?  We know the inventors are listed as Robert Luciano (Sierra Design Group), Art Bunce, Glenn Feldman, George Foreman, Jerome Levine, and on the last page Howard Dickstein was also added as an inventor.

Class II unlike Class is not regulated by the NIGC.  There are no limits on these machines.  California is frustrated by these machines as they feel they are just slot machines but you may recall from the development of the VLT machine that the inventors used California's ban on Class III slot machines as a blue print for developing the Class II bingo-like slot machine.

Here is some more background on San Pablo and Class II gaming:

Class II Gaming Machines In San Pablo

Update:  Is Pala receiving its share of the profits from the San Pablo Casino?

See this article:

San Pablo Casino Pits City v. City, Gambler v. Gambler By RICHARD BRENNEMAN


Some of the supporters of the San Pablo proposal belong to the Maloof family of Sacramento and Las Vegas, owners of the Sacramento Kings NBA team and of the Palms Casino in Las Vegas. The Maloofs reportedly raised $2 million for Schwarzenegger’s successful gubernatorial run, and it was Schwarzenegger who signed a pact with the Lytton Tribe to build the San Pablo casino.

The Maloofs are partners with three other entities that have signed on to manage the reincarnated Casino San Pablo, two casino operating tribes—the Rumsey Band of Wintun Indians which owns and operates the Cache Creek Casino in Yolo County and the Pala Band of Mission Indians—and former Las Vegas casino owner Jerry Turk, who manages the Pala’s casino in San Diego County.

In exchange for running Casino San Pablo, the four managing partners will receive a quarter of the net profit.  (emph added)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Pala Tribal Members - So You Think This Isn't Your Fight?

Below is a flyer. Feel free to print it out and pass it around.
So You Think This Isn't Your Fight?

Text Version

By Concerned Tribal Memebers


The Margarita Brittain fight is more your fight than you think. There are several implications related to the Executive Committee’s recent decision to disenroll several members of the Brittain Family.

Why is it you fight too? Under the new rules of the Executive Committee they can now disenroll anyone they want to disenroll.

Is this really what you want for Pala? You want you and your family to constantly live in fear that the Executive Committee will take away your heritage and your per-capita with a single stroke of a pen?

The use of the 1928 Roll as proof of eligibility for enrollment with the Tribe is a violation of our Constitution.

Under this new rule by the Executive Committee, Committee members Dion Perez and Theresa Nieto are not eligible for enrollment in Pala because the 1928 Roll shows their family to be from Morongo and Cahuilla and not from Warner Springs Valley.

The children of Leroy Miranda should not be enrolled because the 1928 Roll shows that they are Yaqui Mexican. More significantly, the 1928 Roll shows more than ½ the Tribe to be ineligible for enrollment just as the descendants of Margarita Brittain.

Not your fight? YOUR NEXT!!

More importantly to you, when the Brittains win, and they will, are you prepared to have your per-capita slashed in order to pay the back money owed them as well as damages?

The sooner this is ended the better it is for you. Damages are accruing at a rate of $2 million a month. Think about it. It will be your debt.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Vice-Chairman of Pala Leroy Miranda Doesn't Want to Wake Up For His "Stupid Job"

Here are a couple of tweets from the Vice-Chairman of Pala Leroy Miranda (Nanakish)

These were from around August 2011.

 Apparently he doesn't like his "stupid job".  There are (3) tweets from him with one saying he doesn't want to wake up for his "stupid job", another where he is "tooo laaaaazy" to go to work, and a another where he says "Screw workkk today".

Must be hard getting up in the morning and disenrolling Brittain Descendents.  Leroy has fulfilled a 10 year long crusade against the Brittain Family.  After all that hard work maybe Leroy needs a break.

If you are not happy with your "stupid job" Leroy you can easily resign.  People do it all the time when they are in careers they are not happy with.

Vice-Chairman of Pala Leroy Miranda Doesn't Like His Job

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Elsie Lucero BIA Enrollment Specialist On Margarita Brittain

Here is an affidavit from Elsie Lucero.  She was the Southern California Agency BIA Enrollment Specialist from 1985 until she retired in 2005.  She was in charge of going over all the historical documents related to Margarita Brittain.

Elsie Lucero has been kind enough to prepare several affidavits for us for which we sincerely thank her.  Her words speak for themselves.  If you have not read any of her affidavits please read this one.

I know several affidavits are out there and they are similar but this one is newer and addresses Pelegrino Ortega, Margarita Brittain's Father.

Great information here.

Elsie Lucero Affidavit Filing May 30 2012

Friday, June 15, 2012

Gaming Patents and Pala

Today's post is on the gaming patents behind slot machines.  Understanding patents can get pretty complicated particularly if one if not familiar with the intricate details of the invention.

First, a little Patent 101.  Let's say you invent something.  You would then like to sell that product or service you have invented.  But before one starts selling their invention they typically like to get some legal protection in the form of a patent.  The inventor then would draft their patent and submit it to the United States Patent and Trademark Office for consideration.

Often there are multiple inventors and Patent Attorneys need to be hired to do an exhaustive patent search to make sure the invention doesn't already exist.  More often than not an idea you may think is unique is already patented.

Usually the patent office rejects the first patent submission.  The inventors then decide if they are going to revise the patent and resubmit or abandon the project.  All this can cost a lot of money.  Usually the minimum amount a patent will cost is about $7000 to $10,000.  This is a rare case where the inventor can write the patent themselves, submit it themselves, do the patent search themselves, and address any concerns raised by the patent office themselves.

Patent costs can soar if a similar invention is found and legal challenges are mounted against the patent.  Every reiteration and resubmission a patent goes through costs more money.

But if the inventors make it through this process then they are the proud owners of a U.S. Patent.  It doesn't stop there though.  If one plans to sell their product or service internationally one may decide to pursue patenting their invention in other countries such as in Japan or the European Union.

After all that the owners of the patent can do several things.  First, then can produce and market their product on their own.  Or they can sell the patent to another company.  Or, more often than not, they can license their patent to another company or multiple companies who then use the patented technology to produce products and sell them.  The owners of the patent are often paid Royalties and/or Licensing Fees for the right to use their intellectual property (IP).

Further, a patent can be licensed and sub-licensed multiple times.  Even more complicated, if a company gets bought out that has a license to the technology then the company that bought the other company will assume ownership of that license.

Ok, for this discussion we also need a little background on Indian Gaming.  A good primer on Indian Gaming is on Wiki about Native American Gaming.  In a nut shell in the 1970's a couple of tribal members living on Indian Land in Minnesota received a property tax bill.  Feeling they did not owe the property tax since they were on Indian Land they challenged the State and County in court.  They lost.  They appealed that decision to the Supreme Court which not only reviewed the case but made a ruling that " not only that states do not have authority to tax Indians on Indian reservations, but that they also lack the authority to regulate Indian activities by Indians on Indian reservations. (from Wiki)"

This paved the way for tribal gaming under the premise of tribal sovereignty.   In 1980 the Cabazon Band of Mission Indians in California began operating a Bingo Hall.  The Indio Police and Riverside County Sheriff promptly shut down the Bingo Hall.  Cabazon took their case to the Supreme Court in 1986.  The Supreme Court once again "ruled that Indian gaming was to be regulated exclusively by Congress and the federal government, not state government; with tribal sovereignty upheld, the benefits of gaming became available to many tribes. (from Wiki)"

Indian Gaming was born but complications still arose.

One complication was in California where Class III gaming was still illegal (traditional slot machines, craps, roulette, etc).  California did have a State Lottery, Horse Race Tracks, and Poker Parlors but Class III gaming was still illegal.

Seeking ways to increase revenue tribes began looking at slot-like machines called Video Lottery Terminals.  Since Bingo was already legal they sought slot machines that used a Bingo Mechanism instead of the Random Number Generators most Class III slot machines have.  This lead to the creation of Class II Slot-like machines.

In the early days of Indian Gaming I remember people complaining about the machines.  They didn't like the printed ticket.  They wanted to feel the coins and hear the coins hit the tray.  In the late 1990's this lead to a push at least in California to make Class III gaming legal on Indian Reservations.  This lead to several tribes pursuing compacts with the State and ultimately lead to several ballot initiatives making Indian Gaming legal in California.

But while tribes could now operate Class III slot machines they were limited to 2000 machines per casino, had to pay the state a fee per machine, and still could not operate other games such as craps or roulette.

This lead to another round of inventions and patents that lead to the creation of crap-like and roulett-like games.  I know Pala and Pechange both have "Pala Craps" and roulette and "Pechanga Craps" and roulette.  Instead of rolling dice, cards are dealt that have pictures of dice.  In the case of roulette instead of a ball landing on a number the wheel a card is drawn from a spinning wheel with a number on it.

Those of you who remember the early days of Indian Gaming may also remember playing Black Jack where an ante or "fee" had to be paid to the House.  This was because at that time Black Jack had to be player banked and not house banked.  The house could not make money on the loses of players.

The first document I have here is an article that appeared in the Los Angeles Times in 1998 titled The Slot Machine That Isn't.

Here is an excerpt:

"The Pala tribe promptly commissioned a Nevada company called Sierra Design Group to build a gambling device that met all the requirements and still, as they say, quacked like a slot machine.

Six months and several million dollars later, Sierra Design rolled out the result.
It has the soul of a lottery but the look and feel of a slot machine.

The new system actually conducts a lottery as described in the compact. It's just that the gambler is hardly aware of it."
The Slot Machine That Isn't - Los Angeles Times

This patent for this slot machine was issued.  It's titled Video Lottery Game United States Patent US 6,168,521, B1.  The inventors of the patent are very familiar names:  Robert Luciano (Sierra Design Group), Art Bunce, Glenn Feldman, George Foreman, Jerome Levine, and on the last page Howard Dickstein was also added as an inventor.

Presumably this is the invention Pala commissioned and paid for.  Yet no where is Pala mentioned in the patent.  It could be there is another patent similar to this I have not yet seen.

Here is the patent:
Video Lottery Game United States Patent US 6,168,521, B1


Other patents were developed.  Two were developed by Jerry Turk who managed the Pala Casino for 7 years.  One of those patents is for Pala Craps and Pala Roulette.  The Pala Band of Mission Indians is the Assignee on one of the patents.
United States Patent US 7,540,498 B2 Systems and Methods for Card Games That Simulate Non-Card Casino Table...
United States Patent Application US 2005/0032569 A1 Methods and Systems For Interactive Lottery Game Jerry ...

In 2003 Alliance Gaming Corp bought Robert Luciano's Sierra Design Group. which is now known as Bally Technologies
Alliance to buy Reno’s Sierra Design Group

After Prop 5 passed Class III slot machines seemed to be preferred to Class II slot machines.  People who go to Vegas are familiar with Class III games and thus if they go to an Indian Casino with the same games there is a familiarity there that helps pry the dollars from their wallet.

But lately Class II machines are in resurgence.  First off, the NIGC does not regulate Class II machines.  Second, there are no limitations on how many Class II slot machines an Indian Casino can operate.  Indian Casinos are limited to 2000 (or 2500?) Class III machines.

Second, Indian Casinos have successfully developed their own brand and no longer rely on Vegas familiarity.  Indian Casinos now have their own unique games and even slot machines that their customers specifically come to play.

Thirdly, it is increasingly difficult to tell a Class II from a Class III machine. Often the only way to tell is by the internal mechanism.  But some Class II machines have made them easier to identify.  With each spin of the wheel there is a little bingo card near the top of the machine that displays the numbers drawn.

You thought you were playing a slot machine but you were really playing Bingo!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Deposition of Paula Lorenzo in Rumsey Indian Rancheria of Wintun Indians vs Howard Dickstein

The deposition of Paula Lorenzo goes with a previous post on the lawsuits of Rumsey Indian Rancheria of Wintun Indians vs Howard Dickstein.

Every Pala Member should be familiar with this case and Paula Lorenzo's deposition.   Just a reminder, Howard Dickstein is Pala's attorney.  Well, Howard Dickstein actually works for several gaming tribes.  Or should I say several gaming tribes work for Howard Dickstein?

Paula Lorenzo is Chairwoman of the Rumsey Band. If you take a look at Corporate Wiki you will see there is a connection between Paula Lorenzo, Robert Smith, and Jerry Turk.

All three were members of a company called California Indian Gaming Development, LLC as well as California Indian Gaming Management, LLC.

You can do a business search for businesses located in California using the California Secretary of State. Go ahead and type in California Indian Gaming, select Limited Liability Company/Limited Partnership Name, and both CIGD and CIGM will pop up though both are now canceled.

Anyway, keep this all in mind while going over the Rumsey case. Take a look at what Howard Dickstein did at Rumsey then think of Pala. The Deposition of Paula Lorenzo in Rumsey Indian Rancheria of Wintun Indians vs Howard Dickstein

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Pen and Ink Changes on the 1913 Pala Allotment Rolls

One of the sources of the continued persecution of the descendents of Margarita Brittain is a copy of the 1913 Pala Allotment Rolls Pala had in its possession in the formative years of its tribal government.

In the 1950'a Pala began formally organizing itself as a tribe and establishing a government to government relationship with the BIA.  Part of this process was establishing the governing documents of the tribe - the Articles of Association.

Pala was also exploring economic development.  They began looking at leasing out some of their land to Sand and Gravel operations.  This was to help provide funding for the tribal government and per capita payments to its members.

Before per capita payments could be made Pala would have to define how it determined its membership and adopt a distribution plan.  Pala decided it would use the 1913 Pala Allotment Roll as the base roll of the tribe.  To be a member one must show lineal descent from the 1913 Pala Allotment Roll and poses at least 1/16 "Pala" blood based on that roll.  This has been enshrined in Pala's governing documents for over 50 years and has been custom and tradition for at least as long.

Sometime in the late 1950's or early 1960's some unknown individual used a pen to circle the 4/4 for Margarita Brittain's blood degree and wrote next to it 1/2. This unknown person then wrote 1/4 next to all her children.

This pen and ink change was made despite the fact that in 1962 a letter was sent to the Pala Enrollment Committee clearly stating Margarita Britten (Brittain) was full blood.

When this occurred and who made the pen and ink changes is largely unknown. Pala then went on to recognize this pen and ink change until the error was discovered. An appeal was then made to the tribe and the BIA to restore Margarita Brittain's blood degree. This is all referenced in the 1989 letter from the Department of the Ineterior to Pala Chairperson Patricia Nelson

The BIA found that the pen and ink change did not appear on the original roll housed in Washington D.C. Further, they found no record or reference justifying the change.

When the Pala Enrollment Committee asked for documentation to verify our blood degree I included a copy of the 1913 Pala Allotment Roll sent to my Grandmother Pauline Pink. I have included here the letter sent to her along with the complete roll. I heard by rumor that the Pala Enrollment Committee claimed the roll to be a forgery of some sorts or that it was tampered with.

I have the original document. It is no forgery which is clear to anyone who sees it. I have uploaded a full copy of that roll.

Further, the only way an individual could obtain an allotment was to be either full blood or half. All of Margarita's children were given allotments. Thus, how can any of them be considered anything but at least 1/2 Indian Blood? As usual, logic does not apply when we consider who sits on the current Pala Enrollment Committee and logic certainly does not apply to Pala's current Chairman, Robert Smith.

Robert Smith has been Chairman of Pala for over 20 years. People of Pala - do you not think it is time for a change in leadership? 1913Nov3_PalaAllotmentRoll_PenandInkChange0001 1967 Jan 12 Letter to Pauline Pink Accompanying the 1913 Pala Allotment Roll 1913 Pala Enrollment Approved by Secretary of the Interior

September 11, 1989 Department of the Interior Lettter to Pala Chairperson Patricia Nelson On Margarita Brittain

The Document Speaks for Itself September 11, 1989 Department of the Interior Lettter to Pala Chairperson Patricia Nelson On Margarita Brit...

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bureau of Indian Affairs Pacific Regional Director Recommends All 162 Disenfranchised Pala Members Be Enrolled

Pala Disenrollees received their recommendation today from the BIA that they should all be enrolled with the Pala Band of Mission Indians which has been the case since 1989 when the BIA made its final determination that Margarita Brittain is a full blood Kupa Indian.

Also posted at Original Pechanga's Blog

Bureau of Indian Affairs Pacific Regional Director Recommends All 162 Disenfranchised Pala Members Be Enrolled