A group trying to stop a casino in Rohnert Park, California says the chairman of the local tribe has no Indian blood — and it wants the Bureau of Indian Affairs to remove him. That leader, Greg Sarris, the chairman of the Federated Indians of the Graton Rancheria, has shot back with charges of politics and said the group has no legal leg to stand on.
The dispute centers on the Graton Rancheria’s efforts to build an urban casino in Rohnert Park on the northern edge of the densely populated Bay Area. It seems obvious that there is an "agenda" here and that ancestry is only a part of a bigger dispute.
The Stop the Casino 101 Coalition sent a detailed letter to Larry Echo Hawk, the assistant secretary of Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior, attacking Sarris’ ancestral claims. The five-page letter cites detailed Census and genealogical information that they say shows Sarris is of mixed white, Filipino and possibly Mexican and Black ancestry — but “possesses no Native American blood, and specifically, no Coast Miwok and/or Southern Pomo blood.”
Copies were also sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, local Rep. Lynn Woolsey and others.
But the Graton’s attorney, John Maier, cited the 1978 U.S. Supreme Court case Santa Clara Pueblo v. Martinez, which he said clearly prevents the BIA from doing what Montgomery asks. “The bureau has no authority to do that,” Maier said. “The tribes determine their own membership. That’s the end of the story.” The attorney has not responded to charges that Mr. Sarris has no Indian ancestry.
It's fun watching what politics can do. You can read more at http://www.capitolweekly.net/article.php?_c=ymfa5d7izjxlyd&xid=ymeu28afca9np1&done=.ymfa5d7izkhlyd.