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.