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Pechanga Band Seeks to Drop Members
The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Mission Indians wants to reduce its
membership by 10 percent in a dispute over who is entitled to a share of
the millions of dollars the tribe’s casino brings in each year.
The 130 people affected are seeking a federal court ruling preventing
individual members of the tribe’s enrollment committee from dumping
them. Each person would lose $120,000 annually if they are dropped from
the membership rolls.
Tribal leaders argue that the key ancestor of the group at issue cut
her ties with the reservation 80 years ago. They also maintain that
neither state nor federal courts have the right to intervene.
A call to tribal chairman Mark Macarro’s office rang unanswered
Saturday, and tribal councilman Russell "Butch" Murphy did not
immediately return a call for comment.
The Pechanga tribe isn’t the only one struggling to define its
Previously undisputed bloodlines have become increasingly divisive
since Indians began operating profitable casinos.
Individual tribes are not compelled to disclose how much money their
casinos produce, but the total revenue generated by California’s 53
tribes with casinos is estimated to be about $5 billion a year.
Casino gambling profits are intended for tribal government operations
and various health, social, education and housing programs. But at the
tribal council’s discretion, some of the money can also be paid to
individual members as profit-sharing income. Each adult member of the
Pechanga Band receives up to $10,000 a month in casino profit-sharing
checks and other perks.
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