The Chukchansi Gold Resort and Casino, owned and operated by the Picayune Chukchanski Indian Tribe, is apparently causing tribal members to get kicked out of their own tribe. The cause of this member removal is because other tribal members are becoming too greedy over money. For the last five years, the casino has brought in millions of dollars that goes directly to the tribal members.
Membership in 2000 was approximately around 1,500, and within the last year over 600 members have been kicked out. Mary Martinez, 77 and two years removed from vice chairwoman, is one of the members who have been told to leave. Martinez said “They kicked me to the curb so they could keep more money for themselves. Our ancestors would roll over in their graves if they knew.”
According to Chanel Wright, a spokesperson for the Picayune Chukchanski Tribe, “Each tribe, under sovereignty, has the right to set its own membership.” Because of this law, members of the tribal council are also the only place where kicked out members have the opportunity to appeal to.
This is just one case of what gaming income has brought to the Indian Tribes across the nation. California and Oklahoma are two of the places in our nation where this is a huge concern to Indian Members. The Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma kicked out 2,800 of its 200,000 members last year alone. California, on the other hand, has overcome Las Vegas as the biggest gambiling region in the nation. Because of the tribal sovereignty, the inner tribal members can basically kick out whoever they want so other members can make more money.
Many of these members have been part of the tribes for their whole lives. While some members are looking for a quick dollar, others are fighting with their own family members over how big the gaming industry has become. It is clearly unknown how much more tribal members are making since their disenrollment. While this factor isn’t known numbers wise, I’m sure many families from former tribes can attest just how much the gambling industry is affecting their lives.