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Documents indicate fuzzy history of rancheria

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From page A6 | April 13, 2012 | 2 Comments

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 cmayer@mtdemocrat.net. Follow @CMayerMtDemo.

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Discussion | 2 comments

  • 1036-FrankApril 13, 2012 - 9:02 am

    This seems to answer a number of questions and also raises a number. Starting with why the BOS, or their staff, didn't think by reversing their previous statement of fact it would result in where the issue is now. Either it was correct then or not. Was it because a decision was made to accept payment? Then, it appears, a decision was made to allow the attornies on both sides to "Work Around" the previous statement of fact. The historical backround and claims of this casino tribe, as stated by the county, appear to defeat their claims now, and why an attorney was allowed to write a stipulation or present an agreement, which should of red flagged this, into an issue that appears to be, at best, historically inaccurate and accomplished by failure and bungling from beginning to present. Why a group of what has been described as former Sandwitch Islanders, or Kanakas, be allowed to be labeled a homeless band of "Verona Indians" from out of the county having a tribal right here is beyond common sense. Was it a federal idea to relocate them out of their area of residence into another tribe's area, and for what purpose. What possible right to historical local indian land, whether occupied then or not, could they have. The Govt. Indian Agent when he wrote there were no Shingle Springs Indians in 1916 would be very likely historically inaccurate by knowledge of area people, and as written, we aren't told from where he was writing and what his investigation involved and where he traveled. The history books and census will reveal a different picture of who was present and where they were, but it should be noted that native people were migratory in hisorical times from valley to foothills to mountains and back by need of following food sources and traditional hunting grounds and some village sites were used for centuries, others abandoned for various reasons though a remnant of the tribe would still be in the area generally seasonally. The issue over the BOS having agreed to dismiss litigation for payment is another curious matter to be considered and it does appear whoever entered into these agreements should of expected this issue to resurface and should have consulted with a historical perspective for the sake of county history and public accuracy of backround first, then discussion, with the elders of the native people in the county area for verification of history and tribal right of name and residence. The County Grand Jury may have to be called upon, or outside agency, to sort out what happened at the BOS and why their position was reversed otherwise it appears to be obvious.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Ken SteersApril 13, 2012 - 9:43 am

    But most importantly on Tue. and Thurs. you can try to enjoy a really crappy buffet for $5.50...

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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