EDITOR: The Mountain Democrat’s coverage of the dispute about who can call themselves Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians is incomplete. Specifically, there is more to say about the current actions of the small Band of Miwoks being sued by the Red Hawk Casino affiliated group claiming trademark protection of the name Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. The April 4th Letter to the Editor from the Chairman of the Red Hawk Casino affiliated group criticizing accuracy and sources of the March 30 Mountain Democrat article covering the jailing of the leader of the small band of Miwoks does not “set the record straight” and is full of inaccuracies and falsehoods.
The judge in the Federal Trademark case has indicated the resolution of the dispute over who are the true Shingle Springs Miwok Indians is not in his Court’s jurisdiction. The contempt order was issued against the Chief of the small Miwok band because of his reluctance to concede to that limitation, preventing him to argue the more global issue that his tribe is the true Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. (Imagine if some entity trademarked the term “The United States of America” and then used the legal system from allowing you to call yourself a citizen of the United States of America. As a patriot, what would you do?)
The contempt order issued against the Chief was because he refused to give up a business license using the name of Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. It is not a “fraudulent document” but a key element of the overall issue of who are really entitled to claim the rights and responsibilities of the Miwoks.
What is not mentioned in the Chairman’s letter is that the judge released the Chief for a brief amount of time to allow both parties to mediate the dispute including the global issues. The Miwok Band, in good faith, offered to put all the disputed issues up for mediation but the Red Hawk group only wanted to cover the trademark issues and the establishment of two separate tribes. Thus the full context of the March 30 Mountain Democratic article is that it covered the Chief’s return to jail following the inability of the lawyers to set up the mediation. On April 4 he was able to comply with all the restrictions of the court’s contempt order and was released from County Jail. The rejection by the Red Hawk group to discuss working out an agreement on the global issues via an “Indian to Indian” mediation process can only be seen as a unwillingness to risk exposing their status as imposter Indians and lose the Casino and governmental benefits. Rather than working out an agreement and make peace with each other, their strategy apparently is to bring lawsuits to wear down and intimidate the true Miwoks’ capabilities to legally challenge the legitimate status of the groups affiliated with the Red Hawk Casino.
Last week, the Miwok band filed a petition to key Federal government officials that specifically covers the issue of which group should be the Federally recognized Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians. Their petition cites extensive evidence that the responsible Federal agencies that set aside the land for the Miwoks Indians in the early 1900’s failed to properly and legally do so. It goes on to document that Federal agents’ actions aided and abetted a fraudulent taking of lands designated for Northern California Indians by a group of non-Indians. The recipients of the Shingle Springs Indian lands were 100 percent composed of people with Hawaiian and European backgrounds, without any connections to local groups of Miwok or Maidu Indians. It is this group of non-Miwok and non-Maidu Indians that the Chairman bases his assertion of being a Miwok descendant. The wording in his letter about the Red Hawk group descending from Indians is misleading if not patently untrue.
With over 35 years of governmental audit and investigative experience I was asked to review the documentation supporting the petition and I found it to be very compelling. It provides more evidence to support Mr. George Peabody’s historical research. I understand it will be released publically as part of the Trademark case or upon acknowledged receipt by the responsible Federal agencies. I would hope that the Mountain Democrat will fully cover what the petition says.
THOMAS J. SCHULZ