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Law
Expert disputes Pechanga Band on disenrollment


An anthropologist hired by the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians says the tribe's decision to disenroll the family of a respected elderly couple went against his research.

John Johnson, a curator of anthropology at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, said the tribe "ignored" his findings on the heritage of 89-year-old Lawrence Madariaga and his 86-year-old wife Sophia Madariaga. The Madariagas and about 90 adult members of their family were kicked out after the tribe said their ancestor was not Pechanga.

But Johnson said Paulina Hunter, the ancestor in question, was Pechanga, based on all the available evidence. "They ignored whatever I did in their decision-making," Johnson told The North County Times. "It's too bad economics and politics have been injected into (tribal lineage rulings)."

The Pechanga Band has removed hundreds from the rolls. The people who remain are eligible for higher per capita payments from the tribe's successful casino.

Another southern California tribe, the Jamul Band of Kumeyaay Indians, appears to be headed down the same road. Tribal members recently voted to disenroll more than a fifth of the current membership, reducing the rolls to less than 50 people.

Get the Story:
Expert contradicts Pechanga disenrollment (The North County Times 9/25)
Jamul Indians divided on tribal membership (The San Diego Union-Tribune 9/23)

Relevant Links:
Pechanga Tribal Disenrollment - http://www.pechanga.info
Bureau-of-Indian-Affairs.com, Disenrollment site - http://www.bureau-of-indian-affairs.com

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