Sunday, May 25, 2014

The Good Old Days

Some commenters have lamented they wish Pala could go back to the good old days. They say the casino has brought nothing but trouble and caused all this fighting.  There is probably some truth to that but I think we have to be honest with ourselves about just how good those good old days were.

I remember in the early 1990's people would fight over a $300/year or $500/year per capita check.  Some would try to make it to where you had to live on the reservation in order to receive a per capita check.

I remember constantly hearing those that live off the reservation being put down as less Indian and asked why they wouldn't come back to live on the reservation.  Then after the casino was build some did come back to live on the reservation only to be told they don't belong.

But we can go much farther back than that.  Tensions existed between Old Pala and those removed from Warner's.  There was a time when it was thought there were two reservations at Pala - One for the Kupa and one for Old Pala.  This still exists to this day where you can read articles where it refers to Robert as Chairman of the Pala Band of Luiseno Indians and others where he is referred to as the Chairman of the Pala Band of Mission Indians.

The Federally Recognized name of Pala is Pala Band of Luiseno Mission Indians of the Pala Reservation.

We can see some of those tensions described in this letter from the BIA.

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

Even before the removal the Kupa were embattled in years of legal proceedings trying to keep their land.

How far do we need to go back before we get to the good old days?  When the Spanish arrived and just declared they owned the land but let the Kupa live on it?  When land ownership of Warner's was transferred and somehow the Kupa were allowed to remain but had to work as serfs?

Should we go all the way back to pre-European contact?  Ok, let's go all the way back to the story of Kisily Pewish where all the Kupa except for him were massacred.  Good old days?

Did the good old days ever exist?  I am sure there were moments of time - stretches of a few years here and there - where things were pleasant.  For the rest of the time Warners's and Pala have been in turmoil for hundreds of years.  If it wasn't being conquered by the Spanish then it was being turned over to U.S. authorities after the Mexican American War.  It was having land taken and traditional culture squelched.

It was being made against the law to speak your language and forcing their children to speak English. It was being forced to give up their traditional religious practices in exchange for Catholicism.  It was many things from the exploitation of cheap labor and the outright theft of land along with its natural resources.

Were there ever good times?  I am sure there were times that had their moments of good.

As for the good old days which ones do we go back to?