Documents indicate fuzzy history of rancheria

By From page A6 | April 13, 2012

In the ongoing battle over an Indian tribal trademark, Kristen Mackey provided a position statement from the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors from when Red Hawk Casino was being proposed by a group Cesar Caballero claims usurped his tribe’s name.

In the 2003 document titled “Position Statement Shingle Springs Casino,” the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors said that “Records from the Bureau of Indian Affairs disclose that two unrelated groups from the Indians from Sutter and Sacramento counties, jointly referred to as the ‘Sacramento-Verona Band of Homeless Indians’ for administrative convenience, never functioned historically as a tribe, never had a relationship with El Dorado County, and were never formally or properly “recognized” by the federal government as an ‘Indian tribe.’”

The board statement goes on to say that the land that was bought for them was “never the homeland of any Indians” and therefore did not qualify as “Indian lands.”

Caballero and his group assert that the casino tribe is actually the Sacramento-Verona tribe but using Caballero’s tribe’s name.

Mackey says the casino group then paid off the Board of Supervisros, citing a March 2009 document, titled “Memorandum of Understanding and Intergovernmental Agreement Between the County of El Dorado and Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians.” The document details the money that the tribe would pay the county, but does not specifically say why some portions were being paid.

The document also states that the board will drop two court cases and stipulates that the tribe is federally recognized. The board reverses its previous views, stating it will “affirmatively support” the tribe’s Interchange Project, which the members of the board had been vehemently against.

In one of the cases the supervisros decided to dismiss, El Dorado County v. Norton, the opening brief by the county states that Special Indian Agent John Terrell of the Department of Indian Affairs, which would later become the BIA, conducted a census in 1916, which reported 34 individuals of Native American and Hawaiian ancestry in Sutter and Sacramento counties.

The 34 individuals had no knowledge of each other. As per SA Terrell’s recommendation, the government purchased 160 acres for the “landless” Indians, which was completed as the current rancheria in 1920. The land title is for the Sacramento-Verona tribe, a name SA Terrell created, and makes no mention of a Shingle Springs band, the court filing states.

The rancheria remained vacant until the 1970s. In 1970, the BIA contacted the descendants of the 34 in an attempt to sell the rancheria and distribute the profit among the individuals. In 1976, according to the brief, 16 of the descendants voted to establish the articles of association and bylaws for the “Shingle Springs Band.”

The court filing asserts that “The articles of association indicated no connection to the Miwok Indians. Nor do the articles of association address the fact that several of the original members of the band were native Hawaiians and not of Indian heritage.”

By October of the same year, none of the group had set up residence at the rancheria, and the federal government had not recognized the group. In 1979, the government recognized the rancheria, but not the group itself.

In 1980, 60 years after the land was purchased, the first member of the group set up residence there. In 1981, the BIA updated its list of recognized tribes, on which the “Shingle Springs Band of Miwok Indians, Shingle Springs Rancheria (Verona Tract), California” appeared, but, the brief asserts, the tribe, rancheria and federal government had never complied with Federal Acknowledgment Regulations.

In 1994, the List Act was passed by Congress, which, for the first time, gave the BIA statutory authority to publish a list of federally-recognized Indian tribes. The next year, the first official list was published, and the tribe was listed solely on the basis that it had been on the 1981 list.

The brief makes no mention of Caballero’s tribe, however it does mention that in 1951, the director of the BIA stated that “There are no ‘Shingle Springs Indians of California.’”

Contact Cole Mayer at 530-344-5068 or [email protected]. Follow @CMayerMtDemo.

Cole Mayer

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