August 03, 2007

Disenrollment shrinks tribes

The Incredible Shrinking Chukchansi TribeAll told, around 3,000 people have been kicked out of California Indian tribes since the advent of casino gaming in the state. But these former Chukchansis make up the single largest block of disenrolled tribal members in California. The numbers put the tribe at the center of a growing dispute over who gets to enjoy the newfound wealth of being a member of a California gaming tribe.

From a low of fewer than 30 members in 1988, the tribe grew to nearly 1,500 in 1999. Tribal councilwoman Dixie Jackson was quoted in the Madera Tribune a year ago saying the tribe had 1,200 members. At a June 23 tribal membership meeting, the tribal council announced that the tribe had 691 members--more than 500 fewer people. This rapid expansion and contraction of the tribe has led to complaints from disenrolled members that they were used to pump up the tribes numbers as it sought federal dollars and a casino, then discarded once they had served their purpose.

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