Saturday, December 14, 2013

Federal Court Intervenes Into Tribal Dispute - Overrides BIA

Interesting Article in the Sac Bee from yesterday: 

Federal court reopens Calaveras County tribe challenge

A bitter and long-running fight over a small Calaveras County tribe has now taken a new turn, as a Washington, D.C.-based federal judge has ordered Interior Department officials to take another look at its past decisions.

Read more here:

Read More Here - Federal court reopens Calaveras County tribe challenge

So, Federal Court can force the BIA to finally do something...should be interesting to follow.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

JESSICA TAVARES et al vs GENE WHITEHOUSE et al Case 2:13-cv-02101-TLN-CKD Filed 10/10/13

A lawsuit was filed on 10/10/13 titled:

SUEHEAD, unlawfully banished members
of the United Auburn Indian Community,
WILLIAMS and DANNY REY, in their
official capacity as members of the Tribal
Council of the United Auburn Indian

Case 2:13-cv-02101-TLN-CKD Filed 10/10/13

Howard Dickstein is featured prominently in the lawsuit.  As far as I know Howard Dickstein is still Pala's Attorney.

Here are some excerpts:
"Specifically, petitioners took issue with several decisions made by the 2011 Tribal Council, including its refusal to seek restitution of $25 million in tribal gaming revenues paid to the Tribe’s counsel, Howard Dickstein (“Dickstein”) under an illegal contract he wrote for his unjust enrichment and convinced the Tribal Council to sign, to the great detriment of the Tribe."
"Despite guarantees in federal law protecting petitioners from punishment for engaging in political speech, the 2011 Tribal Council summarily deemed petitioners’ speech “defamatory” under an ordinance that Dickstein drafted and urged the Tribal Council to adopt – an ordinance whose language echoes the infamous Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 (1 Stat. 596)."
"Without providing meaningful notice or opportunity for petitioners to be heard, the 2011 Tribal
Council summarily sentenced them to years of banishment from all tribal lands, stripped them of
all rights associated with membership (including the right to run for election to any tribal office),
and imposed severe sanctions upon them by curtailing hundreds of thousands of dollars in financial benefits to which all other tribal members are entitled."
"The 2011 Tribal Council inflicted this criminal-like punishment on petitioners so as to maintain complete and unquestioned control over the Tribe and its assets. Among other reasons, the 2011 Tribal Council members and Dickstein wanted to conceal their unauthorized transfer of tribal assets to a secret escrow account (“slush fund”) designed to benefit them personally at the Tribe’s expense. As petitioners would later learn, the 2011 Tribal Council and Dickstein diverted millions of dollars in tribal funds to this secret, irrevocable slush fund held by the San Francisco branch of U.S. Bank. Petitioners are informed and believe, and thereon allege, that the 2011 Tribal Council members can access this fund if they are ever ousted from office, disenrolled from the Tribe, removed from the Tribal Council, denied their per capita distributions of gaming revenues or sued by the Tribe for their malfeasance in office. In addition, the slush fund inures to the direct benefit of Dickstein and a former Tribal Administrator who is under indictment by the federal government for embezzling millions of dollars from the Tribe (and is now in private, closed arbitration proceedings to enforce his right to use slush fund monies to pay for his defense of the criminal embezzlement indictment against him). Although neither Dickstein nor the former Tribal Administrator is a member of the Tribe, they both have the express and unlimited authority to tap the slush fund."
"a. The Tribal Council did not deny that $25 million was paid to the Tribe’s attorney, Dickstein, as claimed by petitioners, but only asserted that the money also went to two other attorneys at his firm. (In fact, petitioners are informed and believe, and on that basis allege, that Dickstein kept the lion’s share of the $25 million for himself and paid only a small portion of it to other lawyers).

"b. The Tribal Council did not deny that the $25 million in legal fees paid to Dickstein’s firm were improperly based on a percentage of casino revenues distributed to the Tribe pursuant to the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act, as claimed by petitioners, but only asserted that the payments were made on the “tribal side” after “management fees” and repayment of “construction loans” were made."
"The 2011 Tribal Council acted contrary to the interests of the Tribe and outside the course and scope of their authority as tribal officers, not only by punishing petitioners for their exercise of protected rights, but also by converting and misappropriating millions of dollars in tribal revenues through the secret slush fund established for the personal benefit of themselves and Dickstein."
"Specifically, petitioners are informed and believe, and on that basis allege, that members of the 2011 Tribal Council established an account for tribal officeholders, certain employees and Dickstein, immediately funding that account with $7 million in tribal assets and authorizing an additional contribution of up to $8 million in tribal monies."

Read the full lawsuit:

Monday, September 23, 2013

306 Members of the Nooksack Indian Tribe in Washington State Face Disenrollment

This sounds all too familiar...

Nooksack 306 plan Seattle rally
September 19, 2013
The Bellingham Herald

Nooksack Indian Tribe members threatened with expulsion from the tribe have scheduled a protest march and rally in Seattle Friday, Sept. 20.

Those who support tribal Chairman Bob Kelly and the expulsion process had planned their own rally near the tribe's Deming headquarters about the same time. But an event organizer tells me they have decided to cancel it and focus on the Nooksack Days cultural events that also get under way on Friday.

Those facing expulsion say they will rally with their supporters in Occidental Park, South Main Street and Occidental Avenue S.  at 11 a.m. At 11:45, they plan to march to the Norton Building, 801 Second Ave., for a noon rally there.

A law firm that is defending the expulsion process on behalf of Kelly and his tribal council backers has its office in the Norton Building.

A total of 306 members of the 2,000-member Whatcom County-based tribe are facing loss of tribal membership and the housing and medical benefits and fishing rights that go with it. Kelly and his supporters argue that the 306 were mistakenly granted tribal membership in the 1980s, and their removal would correct that mistake.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE - Nooksack 306 plan Seattle rally

Read more here:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Leroy Miranda Arrested 9/1/13

Leroy Miranda is the Former Vice-Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Pala Ventures Into Online Gaming

Couple of Articles on Pala's online Poker Venture:

The Dirty Stack, Pala Interactive’s Hope, Regulation of Online Poker

Posted by Peter McCullough on July 10, 2013 in Gambler's Report, Online Gambling News, Online Poker News

Pala Interactive, LLC based in California is a relatively new online poker collaboration between former CEO Jim Ryan and the Pala Band of Mission Indians. The Pala Indian tribe is behind San Diego’s premier casino, the Pala Casino Resort Spa.

As with any new venture, the start up needs a face to help promote the brand. That face belongs to none other than professional poker player, Phil Ivey. Ivey is not new to being the face behind a poker room startup, back in 2004, Ivey was one of the most popular players backing resurrected poker room Full Tilt Poker.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE - The Dirty Stack, Pala Interactive’s Hope, Regulation of Online Poker

Another Article:

Phil Ivey to Join California Indian Tribe in Online Gaming Venture

By Steve Larson -

Rumors surfaced this week that the so-called “Tiger Woods of poker,” Phil Ivey, has made an agreement with a southern California indian tribe to be the face of their Internet gaming venture.

Ivey is set to team up with the Pala Indian Tribe, which runs one of California’s most successful tribal casinos. The Pala Casino Resort and Spa is located just outside the city of San Diego. Also slated to participate in the new venture is Jim Ryan, formerly the chief executive officer of

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE - Phil Ivey to Join California Indian Tribe in Online Gaming Venture 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Article on Tribal Member Disenrollments

This is an aticile published on titled Tribal Membership Revocations: Dialing For Dollars? written by Dennis Whittlesey and Patrick Sullivan.

The Article mentions Pala:

Pala Band of Mission Indians


The Pala Indian Reservation is in Southern California, and it houses the Pala Casino which opened in 2001. The casino has been immensely successful, to the point that each tribal member currently receives about $150,000 in per capita payments annually from gaming revenues, as well as housing subsidies, health care, and educational benefits. When the casino's revenues dropped in 2012, the Tribe's per capita payments dropped by $500 per month, and the membership grew disenchanted with the decline in each member's income. The drop in revenue resulted in financial pressure on members who relied on the payments, with the result that a long-simmering membership dispute flared into open hostility and ultimately a massive disenrollment revoking the membership of one-sixth of the Tribe's population.

The Tribe's membership rules require at least 1/16 Pala ancestry. Such "blood quantum" membership rules necessarily lead to an evershrinking tribal membership as members frequently marry outside the tribe. The dispute centered on a single woman named Margarita Britten, who is an ancestor of all of the disenrolled members. The Pala Executive Committee determined on its own that Britten's father was white and not Pala, meaning that all members tracing their Pala ancestry solely to Britten as a great-great-grandparent went from 1/16 to 1/32 Pala blood and no longer qualified for membership. With that decision, more than 160 Pala members were disenrolled, an action that cut off per capita payments, as well as access to health care and all other tribal benefits. Tensions continue to run high on the reservation, with the disenrolled claiming the decision was made solely to prop up per capita payments, while members not affected respond that the disenrollment was an overdue resolution of a preexisting problem.

As for appeals, the Pala leadership took care of that by terminating what might have been a venue for the ousted members to seek judicial relief. In California, tribes may voluntarily settle disputes in the Intertribal Court of Southern California, a tribal "circuit court" providing a neutral forum for appeals of tribal decisions. The Pala Executive Committee voted to withdraw from that court before enacting the disenrollments, so the decision was never subject to review in that court.

The Pala enrollment case was closed before it even was ripe for hearing in that court.

Read Full Article Here at Tribal Membership Revocations: Dialing For Dollars?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Editorial By Rick Cuevas - Do They Care?
We've read so much about the issues at the Picayune Rancheria of Chukchansi Indians. Does anyone really believe that the three groups led by Morris Reid, Nancy Ayala and Reggie Lewis have the best interest of the tribe as their priority, or the best interest of themselves?

All three of these so-called leaders were proponents of the first disenrollments in the tribe in 1999 and 2006. They cut 800 tribal members from their heritage and rights as Native Americans. Is that what someone who purports to care about the tribe does? I think not.

These actions against their own people and those subsequent disenrollments documented by the Sierra Star, have led to violence and huge police presence to protect Chukchansi's shrinking number of citizens from their own leaders. Is this what was meant by tribal self reliance?

Read Full Article Here - - Do They Care?

Rick Cuevas runs  Original Pechanga's Blog

Off-Reservation Casino Moves Forward

Capital Weekly - State’s first off-reservation tribal casino poised for OK

By Greg Lucas | 06/24/13 5:00 AM PST

Despite objections of a dozen Indian tribes operating casinos across California, the Senate is expected to approve legislation this week allowing the North Fork Rancheria Band of Mono Indians to build a hotel casino complex near Madera – the first off-reservation tribal casino authorized in the state.

North Fork says its 2,000-slot casino and 200-room hotel will jumpstart the economic livelihood of its 1,900-member tribe and buoy the area’s depressed rural economy.

“Ratification of our compact is going to bring jobs to the area and build up the economy,” Elaine Bethel Fink, chairwoman of the North Fork tribe, told Capitol Weekly. 

 Read Full Article Here - Capital Weekly - State’s first off-reservation tribal casino poised for OK

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

LA Weekly Article on Pala

Pala's Big Gamble: A SoCal Tribe's Casino Made Them Rich. But At What Cost?

By Ben Westhoff Thursday, Jun 20 2013

When city folk daydream about ditching the rat race and settling down somewhere peaceful, they imagine a place like the Pala Indian reservation. Nestled near the base of Palomar Mountain in north San Diego County and just a few miles east of I-15, it's 12,000 acres of gorgeous hilly countryside and red earth. Roadside stands sell oranges and avocados. Prickly nopal cactus grows like weeds, surrounding ranches populated by cows, horses and even the occasional buffalo.

READ MORE HERE Pala's Big Gamble: A SoCal Tribe's Casino Made Them Rich. But At What Cost?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pala's Chairman Robert Smith Writes A Letter

The Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians wrote a letter to the San Diego Reader in response to an article written by Siobhan Braun titled Can you find the big secret in this casino? Reservation’s reservations.

You can read all of Chairman Smith's letter here under the heading Attention to Detail:

San Diego Reader Editorial Inbox - Attention to Detail by Robert Smith

Part of Chairman Smith's letter reads:

"Additionally, the blood requirement to receive a land allotment in 1913 for any Native American was 50 percent. This was determined by the federal government, not by the Pala tribe."

Margarita Brittain received an allotment in 1913 along with all her children which makes her children 1/2.

Here is the 1913 Allotment roll.  Margarita Brittain is listed as 4/4 and her children as 1/2.  Thus all the disenrolled members of Pala are eligible for enrollment under Pala's Constitution as they posses 1/16 Blood of the Band.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

San Diego Reader Article on Pala

Can you find the big secret in this casino? Link to Full Article

Reservation’s reservations

By Siobhan Braun, June 5, 2013

The Pala Indian reservation sits 40 miles northeast of San Diego, on 12,333 acres in the middle of the San Luis Rey River Valley. If you approach from along Highway 76, a winding, two-lane road that takes you through Palomar Mountain’s foothills, the first landmark you see is the Pala Casino. It’s a Las Vegas–style casino and hotel, and it looks garish among the modest tribal-member-owned ranch-style homes and rundown businesses. The casino boasts over 2000 slot and video machines, 87 table games, a 9-table poker room, and a 507-room hotel. It opened its doors on April 13, 2001.

If, instead of entering the casino’s parking garage, you make a left onto Pala Mission Road, you wind up in the heart of the reservation. Remnants of the tribe’s past are evident along this main drag. A scruffy mutt with matted white fur roams the graveled lot in front of a run-down fruit-and-vegetable stand. Next door is a small, paint-chipped Mexican restaurant and hamburger joint. Double-wide trailers house a beauty salon and a tattoo parlor. A few blocks farther and you come to the Mission San Antonio de Pala. A white picket fence surrounds a cemetery overrun with wildflowers. Wooden headstones tilt over the graves, etched with old tribal family names. The mission opened June 13, 1816, and it is the last California mission still in operation. Across the street sits the Pala General Store, established in 1867. Tribal elders sit on a weathered bench out in front and watch the comings and goings.

Can you find the big secret in this casino? Read Full Article Here

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Willie Pink Certficate of Degree of Indian Blood

Here is a Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) for my Father Willie Pink.  He is listed as 1/8 Pala (Kupa) and 3/8 total which makes me 1/16 Pala (Kupa) and 3/16 total.

Willie Pink is the great grandson of Margarita Brittain.  His Mother, Pauline Pink, is 1/4 Kupa.  Her Father, James Brittain, is Margarita Brittain's son and is 1/2 Kupa.  Margarita Brittain is 4/4 Kupa.

Monday, April 22, 2013

James Brittain 1/2 Kupa

 Here is an Application for Enrollment in a Nonreservation School filled out by my Great Grandfather James Brittain (son of Margarita Brittain) where he is listed as 1/2 Pala  and his wife Flora Machado is listed as Full from Pechanga.

Comments are back on for now but anonymous comments are not allowed and comments will be moderated.  I also had to turn on the spam filter word verification due to too much spam in the past.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

BIA Recommendation February 24, 2012

The first 8 disernolled Margarita Brittain descendents appealed the Executive Committee's decision to disenroll to the BIA.  The BIA responded to the appeal recommending that Pala's Executive Committee reverse their decision.  Here is that recommendation:

Feb 24, 2012 Pala Disenrollments BIA Decision To Recommnend Re-enrollment

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Warner Springs Ranch Bankruptcy Sale

It appears Warner's Ranch will be sold off - click links to read the articles

CBRE Appointed Exclusive Agent For Sale Of Warner Springs Ranch

San Diego – October 23, 2012 – CBRE’s Golf & Resort Group has been authorized by the U.S. Bankruptcy Court to professionally market Warner Springs Ranch for sale on behalf of the debtor, Warner Springs Ranchowners Association, in accordance with a Section 363 Bankruptcy Sale, including the use of a Stalking Horse Buyer and provision for overbids.

More Here 

SHUTTERED RESORT TANGLED IN LAWSUITS, HARD FEELINGS Sale of Warner Springs Ranch fell through, leading to Chapter 11 bankruptcy 

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Margarita Brittain 101

In the late 1950's, early 1960's Pala began organizing itself and establishing a government to government relationship with the BIA.  This was done in part so the tribe could pursue economic development.  At this time this consisted of pursuing Sand and Gravel operations.  There were probably other economic development plans as well that I am not aware of.

In order for the tribe to pursue economic development and distribute per capita payments membership had to be defined, an enrollment process established, and a base roll for the tribe needed to be created.

An Enrollment Committee was formed to discuss how this process should occur and what standards would be established.  Here are the 5 points they considered:

Pala Enrollment Committee - 5 points to be considered for enrollment

We can see from these 5 points that some but not all of these points were adopted. 1/16 was decided as the minimum blood degree. This standard was included in the Articles of Association and later in Pala's Constitution. But we know people moved from Warner's were not all considered fullbloods. Everyone listed on the 1913 Pala Allotment Roll are listed as full or half. Margarita Brittain is listed as full while her children are listed as half. If the standard of counting everyone that was moved from Warner's as fullblood was adopted then Margarita Brittain's children would have been counted as fullblood as well.

The original 1913 Pala Allotment Roll was a hand written document and did not contain blood degrees. But the alloting agent did make notes for all or some of the individuals. In addition the BIA also had Individual Family History cards for many as well as other documentation of blood degree.

An inquiry was made to the Department of the Interior about the blood degree of certain individuals including Margarita Brittain.  The Department of the Interior issued this letter in 1962:

1962 Feb 27 Letter from the Department of the Interior - Margarita Britten Full Blood Cupa Indian

The letter states that on December 5th, 1910 Special Alloting Agent Mr. L.W. Green recorded Margarita Brittain as a fullblood Cupa Indian.

We can see on Margarita Brittain's selection for Allotment that the agent was L. W, Green:

1911 Margarita Britten Selection for Allotment (Brittain)

We can see on the 1913 Pala Allotment Roll that Margarita Brittain is recorded as 4/4:

1913 Pala Enrollment Approved by Secretary of the Interior

However on the copy Pala had of the 1913 Roll that the tribe used for enrollment purposes someone circled 4/4 next to Margartia Brittain and wrote 1/2 next to it.  They wrote 1/4 next to her children.  The changes are not noted in anyway:


In the mid-1970's this error was discovered.  In 1984 Pala's General Council voted to correct Margarita Brittain's blood degree to 4/4.

In 1985 the tribe requested a Per Capita distribution.  At the time the Original Enrollment Ordinance required Department of the Interior approval of the rolls before a Per Capita Distribution could be made.  In 1986 the BIA recommended that the Secretary authorize the BIA to officially record Margarita Brittain's blood degree as 4/4:

1986 BIA Letter Authorizing The Secretary to Record Margarita Brittain as 4/4

This decision was appealed and in 1989 the BIA issued their Final Decision that Margarita Brittain is fullblood:

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

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Regarding Commnets

I hope everyone had a Happy New Year.   Let's hope 2013 is better than 2012.

I have struggled for many months with the tone and tenor of the comments on this blog.  And while I was considered a member of the Pala Band of Mission Indians for 19 years I am also a United States Citizen.  As a Citizen of the United States I do believe in The Constitution which has enshrined in it Freedom of Speech.

For this reason I have not yet censored comments or required registration.  I have wrestled with this and even thought of turning the comments section off at times.

I cannot and do not speak for anyone else but myself.  Comments on this blog do not reflect my own personal views.  I do not agree with any of the hateful things being said about anyone.  I don't think it's necessary to call people names.

I am also against violence.  My own view is violence is not a solution.  It would only perpetuate the problem for more generations.  Solutions need to be pursued through the legal system, the BIA, and through Tribal Government.  That is my opinion.

I would also caution everyone on putting too much weight behind anything anyone says anonymously.  You don't know who they are or what their agenda is.  Some I fear are just trying to stir trouble and to continue giving the Brittain Family a bad name.

I have no problem with vigorous debate.  I have no problem debating the facts and the issues.  Discussions can surely get heated over the facts.  But they do not have to resort to name calling or threats of violence.

In many ways it seems the comments section has turned into an unruly Pala General Council meeting with anonymous commenters playing those role of those who make snide comments during the meetings.  Much of the comments are nothing more than graffiti on the wall of a bathroom stall.

If you guys want to call each other names and jawbone each other I would ask that you take it somewhere else.  Post on each others Facebook pages.  Go comment to each other on forums.  Tweet at each other.  Send each other emails.  Or go meet in the park and jawbone each other there.  There is no need for it here.

For now I will continue to respect Freedom of Speech but please remember with Freedom of Speech also comes responsibility.