PRESS STATEMENT BY THE PICAYUNE RANCHERIA OF THE CHUKCHANSI INDIANS REGARDING TRIBAL ENROLLMENT
The Tribal Council and the membership of the Picayune Rancheria of the Chukchansi Indians, through the Tribe’s Enrollment Committee, conducted a comprehensive audit of all membership files. The goal of the audit was to ensure that those listed as members were indeed eligible under the Tribe’s Constitution. Since then, the Enrollment Committee has thoroughly researched the Tribe’s laws and investigated each and every membership file to determine who is rightfully eligible for membership in the Tribe. In fact, the Enrollment Committee took over three years to research and investigate the membership files to ensure the greatest degree of accuracy.
The issue of tribal citizenship for all Native Americans relates to individual heritage and identity, and is a very personal and emotional issue. The Tribe complied with its own laws, taking the necessary time to ensure the process was accurate, and ensuring that every individual was given due process under the Tribe’s law..
Accordingly, the Tribe followed the due process requirements under the Enrollment Ordinance, which provide for a fair hearing prior to disenrollment. In the hearings, the burden of proof that an individual was ineligible for membership was placed on the Tribe’s Enrollment Committee, not on the individual, and the individual had an opportunity to present their position on the issues and challenge the evidence put forth by the Enrollment Committee.
The Tribe determined that a number of former members were not eligible for membership under the criteria of the Constitution and they have been disenrolled. Due to the privacy issues involved, however, specific information about individual members and their enrollment case will only be discussed with that individual member and the Tribe will not make any statements in regard to individual cases.
The process we have engaged in throughout this very difficult process has been fair to all involved.