Some Chumash Are More Equal Than Others

When It Comes to Being Within the Tribe, Not All Members Benefit

The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians has about 150 enrolled members. They receive all the money from the casino. The thousands of other Chumash descendants, some with more Chumash DNA than the enrolled tribal members, are locked out, receiving no benefit from the Tribe’s fortune.

The state grants this gambling monopoly. The federal government removes enrolled members’ land from a taxable status (fee) into a “sovereign nation” (trust). The reason we did this is to appease our guilt and “make it right” for the Native Americans.

Does it correct our wrong to give a small minority huge wealth while leaving the remaining thousands of Chumash descendants out of the money?

The Santa Ynez Chumash Tribe asserts it has the legal basis to exclude the other Chumash. Does the legal right to do so make it right?

Laws have made it legal to:

• Put Japanese Americans in relocation camps and strip them of land and possessions.

• Enslave Africans and African Americans.

• Keep African Americans second-class citizens without basic rights through the Jim Crow laws and the “separate but equal” determination by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Where is the compensation to “make it right” for these people? Being legal did not make it right.

Shouldn’t we rethink government policies that enrich a small minority and do not “make it right” for the vast majority?

Charitable giving is a wonderful thing. Americans are truly altruistic. I applaud the Santa Ynez Chumash Tribe members for their gifts to the community. We also need to thank the individuals and charities, too numerous to list, that give as much, or a greater percentage, of their income to charity.

Does giving to charities give non-tribal members the right to stop paying property taxes?

Our schools, our roads, our water, our environment are all supported by taxes, and determinations about these critical issues are made through our government. Yet, we have an elephant in the room. The Enrolled Tribe says it is sovereign and above the rule of law.

All other citizens do, and will, bear the burdens of the Tribe’s actions.

My opinions and votes are often contrary to those of elected officials. But that is the democratic way. Other than about 150 U.S. citizens in Santa Barbara County, the Enrolled Tribal members, we all pay property taxes and live within the rules and regulations the majority have made. And, we give to the community.

I don’t feel right about allowing a small minority to gain extreme wealth at the expense of other Chumash descendants and all U.S. citizens. To me, this system fails to “make it right.”

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