Cesar Caballero, the leader of the tribe claiming to be the real Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, has had three months filled with pain. The pain of being assaulted, being denied access to a class on archeological preservation and not being able to see his daughter.
It started July 22, when Caballero was set to go to the class provided by the United Auburn Community, he said, with two of his fellow tribe members. Only one was allowed in, though all three had been invited to attend and had been confirmed via voicemail.
Caballero claimed that it was members of the Shingle Springs Band of Miwoks that operate Red Hawk Casino, who he called “tall Hawaiians,” that forced himself and the other tribe member out.
“We went to the class, got the materials, sat down. The tribal elder personally greeted us,” he said. But then the “Hawaiians” surrounded his table, he said, claiming that Caballero and his tribe members were not registered for the class and thus had to leave. Caballero’s other tribe member called in a favor to stay, he said.
On July 31, Caballero said, he was again confronted while he was reading at a cemetery near Bass Lake. He was forced to drop what he was reading “when this guy lunged at me with a knife,” Caballero wrote in an e-mail to the Mountain Democrat. “I took him down but he was with company and I had to flee for my life.” He says he suffered injuries to his knees and arm. He subsequently filed a report with the Sheriff’s Office, who later acknowledged they had taken the report.
When questioned about the event, AmyAnn Taylor, general counsel for tribe operating the casino, said, “The Tribe has investigated Cesar’s allegations but have found no truth to the allegations.”
But life was not done throwing curveballs at Caballero. Judge Kenneth J. Melikian ruled that Caballero still would not be able to see his young daughter, who he hasn’t seen since he turned himself in on March 6 over a trademark dispute case with what Cabellaro calls “the casino tribe.” Caballero, however, calls the ruling into question as Melikian also ruled in the case for the casino’s water restrictions and wondered whether that would constitute a conflict of interest.
September saw Caballero’s luck change. He hired Suzie Wirths, a private investigator, to help him prove that, despite what “the casino tribe” says, he is a Miwok Indian.
A trip to the Bureau of Indian Affairs on Sept. 18 resulted in a letter verifying Caballero’s BIA-issued ID. An independent call to the BIA verified that the letter issued is theirs. A second trip, this time to the Social Security Administration, resulted in a similar letter.
A ruling in mid-September allowed Caballero to spend two hours a week with his daughter, so long as he was supervised.
Caballero was able to get hard copies of BIA-issued reports that showed that his ancestors, the Blackwell and Craig families, were listed as Miwoks on the federal roll in 1968 and 1928, respectively. A report from 1954 from the Division of Water Resources shows that the reservation land, contrary to what other reports said, was not abandoned and had one house and between 80 and 110 people on it from 1940 to 1960.
For his part, Nick Fonseca, chairman for the “casino tribe,” said he is willing to accept another application from Caballero to be part of the tribe. But, Caballero would have to pass a DNA test showing that he is related to members from the 1916 roll the tribe uses. When Caballero last tried, five years ago, the tribe was not using DNA. It is feasible, Fonseca said, that using DNA, the results would be different and Caballero would be gladly welcomed into the tribe.
“There’s nothing I can do,” Fonseca said, noting the articles of association for the tribe, a public document, can only be changed by a vote from the entire tribe. “These things are not secret.”
He says that his tribe moved from Auburn, Latrobe and Sacramento to the region. “The county wanted them to go to El Dorado Hills,” he said of his ancestors. After quibbling over whether they would instead be given Discovery Park, land where the current rancheria stands was given to them.
Despite Caballero’s claims that Fonseca’s tribe was primarily Hawaiian, Fonseca said his great-great-grandmother was full-blooded Indian, part of the Nisenan tribe, made up of Miwok and Maidu Indians. “Hawaiians married in,” he said.
As for Caballero, Fonseca’s only real problem was that he threatened members of the tribes health clinic, he said. “He said he was going to be their boss and the employees felt threatened,” Fonseca said, justifying why Caballero is not allowed to be treated at the clinic.
Noting that he would not be opposed to another Miwok tribe in the area, should Caballero be proven to be Miwok, in late July Fonseca said, ”I feel really bad. The people they need to talk to, the federal government, should be able to help resolve” the issue of the tribes.
Caballero is attempting to do just that.
Contact Cole Mayer at 530-344-5068 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @CMayerMtDemo.