Provocative ad highlights federal relations fight
By Rob Capriccioso
On Nov. 5, the day of the historic White House Tribal Nations Conference, newspaper readers across the Washington region saw an ad featuring the smiling face of Obama posing next to a grinning Matthew Franklin, the federally recognized chairman of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians of California.
“Mr. President, what is wrong with this picture?” asked large, black newsprint appearing below the photo.
Beneath the image and words was a letter, signed by Nicolas Villa Jr., identified therein as the historical tribal leader of the band.
It claimed that Franklin was not the tribe’s real leader, but rather a tool corruptly put in place to advance the interests of outside gaming investors at the cost of the sovereign rights of the tribe’s citizens.
“The person next to you, Matt Franklin, is recognized by your administration as the Tribal Chairman of the Ione Band of Miwok Indians. However, he is not our tribal leader. He is not a real member of our tribe and cannot even speak our language,” the letter opened.